Monday, October 7, 2013

I swear, I will remember to forget if you will just Stop. Screaming.

It started off well. So well. So smiley, huggy, lovingly well. She was happy to see me. I was ever so happy to see her. She showed me the puzzle she got at Mad Science. I showed her the paper caterpillar I had made for her. She asked if I had anything sugary to surprise her with and I told her that, in fact, I did! She happily got busy making paper caterpillars for her dad and I when we got home while I started making dinner. Bliss. Until...

E: Mom, isn't your birthday coming up?
M: Why yes it is!
E: I'm going to make you a birthday card!
M: Wonderful!
E: Do you want it now or on your birthday?
M: Oh, I'll wait until my birthday for sure.
E: Okay!
E: Mom, how do you spell "Birth"?
E: Mom, how do you spell "th"?
E: Mom, how do you write "d" again?
E: How do you spell "ay"?
M: Like the letter "A" or "ay" like in "birthday"?

I wish you could picture the utter and complete emotional, physical and psychopathological breakdown that occurred inside the body of my little girl before exploding all over the kitchen after my benign, yet terribly ill-fated inquiry.


Screaming, crying, pounding, kicking, flailing - the works. For a very long time. Through the hugs and the cuddles and the assurances and the pat downs and the suggestion that she leave the kitchen after kicking the dishwasher door open twice and swiping the cap of her marker under the hot stove, it continued. Through the apologies and the promises to forget this ever happened and putting a 4 minute timer on the pity party and suggestion after suggestion after suggestion of ways to start over and make a new surprise, there was just no consoling her.


Eventually though, it passed. It passed as quickly as her running back into the kitchen, stepping into her rainboots and zipping out to the backyard saying "I'll just be a minute, Mom!" When she returned, she had a pile of freshly picked tomatoes and, more importantly, an excited smile on her face.

M (making sure to look very, very surprised): Tomatoes! Just what I was hoping for! THANK YOU so much for this lovely surprise!
E (beaming maniacally): You're welcome! Did I surprise you???
M: You sure did! These will go so well with our dinner tonight!
E: Do you remember the other surprise?
M: What other surprise?
E: The one about your birthday?
M: Oh, I forgot! It's almost my birthday, isn't it?
E: Yes, and do you remember the surprise?
M: What surprise?
E: The card?
M: What card? Did Dad buy me a card?
E: Okay! Never mind! (skips out of the kitchen and hurries over to her table) Mom! You can't look at what I'm doing okay?
M: Okay!

E: Mom, how do you spell "Birth"?
E: Mom, how do you spell "th"?
E: Mom, how do you write "d" again?
E: How do you spell "ay"?
M: "A-Y"! (please don't freak out please don't freak out please don't freak out)
E: Okay, thanks!
M: Whew.
A few minutes later, as I was putting dinner on the table, she ran over saying "Here's your birthday card Mom!" Luckily, I've learned from being burned many, many times. I slapped my hands over my eyes and said "No wait! We have to wait until my birthday, remember?" "Oh, yeah! Don't look Mom!" That was a close one. So off she trots, back to the table, and proceeds to apply enough tape to seal every window in our house shut to that card to make sure that noone, but noone, is getting into that baby. I instantly start brainstorming ways to get into it in a few days time without destroying this precious labour of love and agony. I think I'm screwed.

And there it is, folks. Parenting, boiled down to one tumultuous anecdote. There are good times, and there are horrific times. And they are completely erratic and unpredictable. You never quite know what's around the next corner, except that in any given day you are likely to feel like Mom of the Year and Turd of the Earth, most likely in rapid succession. So please, the next time you find yourself questioning why a mom you know seems a bit fragile and might be sipping a little too freely from that bottle of wine, understand - she is probably either just emerging from, or moments away from diving headlong back into one of the most harrowing and/or gratifying moments of her life. So cut her some slack. 

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