My daughter, V, had a bad day today. This is not one of those times when a parent says, referring to a child’s difficult behavior, that their child is having a bad day. No, my poor girl literally had an awful day. She fell backward in the kitchen three separate times, twice while she was helping me. The first time, she was helping me dry Tupperware and slipped on a wet spot near the dishwasher. The second time, she wanted to help cook and was frustrated when she couldn’t chop veggies (she’s 18 months old) so she grabbed hard on the oven door, slipping and falling backward. The third time, she was helping me wash the kitchen floor with her little rag that she loves dipping in “bubbows” (her word for bubbles). She paused to watch a moment of WordWorld on tv and then slipped cutting back through the kitchen to her playroom before I could reach her, despite my call to her to “Stop!”
This was only part of her day. Earlier in the day, she tripped on our deck and skinned her knee for the first time. She got two splinters in her feet and I had to remove them with ice and a sterilized needle (through this process she was an angel!). She pooped in her swim diaper the moment she got into her paddling pool and later pooped in the pool again as she swiftly stepped in fully clothed despite the fact that I was less than a foot away. Picking her up and stripping off her wet shorts and PullUp, poo smeared all down both legs and feet. So instead of putting on her swimsuit as she had hoped, she was subjected to massive prewiping and a bath.
The event that really made an impression though was when I killed three flies hiding behind the blinds right above her potty chair. She was freaked out by the buzzing, so I took matters in hand like the efficient mommy I strive to be, and pounded those suckers, smashing them one by one into the window with the blind. I scooped them up in toilet paper and disposed of them discreetly in the other room. Somewhere during this process, I went wrong. My traumatized girl won’t sit on her potty today. She keeps talking about the “buzzies” (her word for bugs). I’m not quite sure what it is that is upsetting her, but I think the gist of the repeated inquiries is that she wants to know what happened to them. I do not like the idea of lying to her, but I’m not sure what exactly she wanted to happen to the “buzzies” other than she wanted them to go “bye bye.” I told her “Mommy caught the buzzies, I put them in the toilet paper and took them away. They are all gone.” She kept persisting, raising her hands in a questioning gesture, “buzzies?” then making a gesture like bopping her head. I take this to mean, did I hit the buzzies…”Yes, I did,” I confess. I mean, she saw me, I can’t exactly stretch this one, right? “Yes, Mommy hit the buzzies. You can’t hit people, but you can hit bugs. Only bugs.” Now, I’m really deep in it. She sits on the potty for a moment and I try to distract her with a book, but she’s too freaked out to continue and hops off. She learned to put her feet in her PullUp by herself today and so I watch and help when needed and we leave the room.
So not only did she suffer through 5 separate injuries, two inconvenient poops, multiple disappointments, she watched her mother commit atrocities upon three helpless bugs who were probably looking for the way out and then I fumble miserably at explaining their disappearance. I felt like a murderer and a liar. Over three flies. Ugh.
At the end of the day, I was clean worn out. I had soothed, reflected, and redirected my heart out. Then I realized. These are the simple problems. There will be a day when I can’t kiss the boo-boo or rock and nurse her for comfort. There will be a day when the problems aren’t falls, and forgone play and scary buggies. And I will have to fumble to find the best way to support her, even if I don’t think I know how.
As her bedtime approached, she pulled me into the living room to cuddle on the couch with her. I know I still have her trust and her love. I am her mommy. I hope I can meet the challenges her future brings, that she’ll still seek my arms for comfort and solace during her worst days. But I know my heart will break every time I see her fall, even when I’ve warned her ahead of time.