Some days you need a reminder that your kid is cute and fun, just two after all, and not deliberately making you miserable with the most ridiculous, terrible, clichéd garbage you never thought would be a part of your reality. Let me paint you a little picture. A woman is wearing an outfit cobbled together of things that were left downstairs when the rest of the laundry was taken up to be put away. She has an infant in a carrier on her front, and she is holding a small boy up in front of her. They are in a mall. The small boy is screaming. Is she swinging him, for fun? Is he screaming with delight? Oh no. No, no, no. Also, the baby is crying.
We're having one of those days. One of those everything-goes-wrong kind of days where you try to turn it around with a trip to the Children's Museum but that doesn't work out either, and you resort to the mall's play area which proves to be your gravest error yet. A day when you beg the universe for a break and instead get a diarrheal cat.
If you'd have seen me moments prior to the swinging/screaming scene, you'd have caught me calmly saying, over the fussing directly beneath my face, George, I know you're disappointed, but we will walk until Zelda falls asleep and then come back to the play area. Let's find a place to buy a snack. You would've seen me try to quiet the fussing with a quick nurse, then hurriedly corral one boob back into my shirt while I chased after my toddler who had seized a golden opportunity and run off. I was doing pretty well...and then I wasn't.
His priorities are not your priorities, I repeated to myself, as I carried him to the car. It didn't make me any less frustrated. For all the gentle parenting resources I could list, all the redirection and communication tactics I know, sometimes I'm still that lady. The "did you see that lady?" lady. Ach.
So I put him to bed when we got home -- a nap was sorely needed -- and looked at these photos of the art project we did yesterday. An exercise in tape and placement. I asked him: Would you like to make a pond or a tree? I cut out shapes and he put them where he wanted. We taped them on, one by one, together, and with markers he added some eyes to the fish, some bubbles.
The pride on that face. To say he was pleased with himself would be an understatement. I thought because he's not able to draw figures that look like figures yet his finished product would be more abstract, less "correct" about where everything went. But sand was at the bottom, the frog was at the top, and the plant was planted right in the dirt. Go figure.
He's pretty alright, that boy. Even though he tees me right off sometimes. He apologized, by the way. I'm sorry, Mama. Sorry for being a rascal.
I know, I said. Let's just try again.