Two funny conversations and one not so much.
On the way home from day care, Ingrid said, “I got to make something to chew on today.” Apparently it was made of rubber. With strings in it, and with her name on both sides like the tag on her lunch bag. She made it, then she put it in her mouth and chewed on it, and she didn’t get to bring it home, she just left it on the table. It wasn’t food. She couldn’t remember if it had a name.
If you have any idea what this object could be, please tell me. I’d love to know.
Also, her ears are a bit plugged up from this cold, so we got to have a conversation like this after dinner:
Ingrid: Mama, did Iris wear this hat to day care?
Me: No, she wore a different hat today.
Ingrid: What hat?
Me: The fuzzy green hat.
Me: The fuzzy green hat.
Me: THE FUZZY GREEN HAT.
Ingrid: What are you talking about?
And then at bedtime we had more or less the worst interaction ever. She was Worried Her Diaper Was Going To Fall Off, which is sort of like a Yahtzee or a Bingo or insert your favorite games of chance and skill metaphor. Part sensitive kid, part thoughtful kid, part manipulative three year old wanting to postpone bedtime, all turned up to top volume, literally and figuratively. Add mama who Just Wants a Fucking Hour To Herself Before A Decent Night’s Sleep, plus little sister already asleep and needing relative quiet, and obviously we were headed for misery.
Ingrid could not be reassured by my sympathy, consoled by my logical suggested coping strategies, or influenced at all, it seemed, by my calm and firm (and then less and less calm) limit setting, and she expressed her ongoing discomfort and worry by crying loudly. I ended up ranting and crying on the phone to my mom while Ingrid wailed upstairs in bed, then, after Ingrid came downstairs again, yelling some really lovely things at her about how there was nothing I could do and she really had to just get over it and go to sleep. This after many, many rounds of calm-but-firm, I swear. There is only so much fucking calm-but-firm in me, I’m very sorry to say. Her face turned pale and blotchy as I yelled.
For a horrible many minutes after I stopped yelling, I couldn’t see how we were going to get out of it. Call someone to stay with the kids while I drove out for some better fitting diapers? Unnecessary giving in, I thought, and crazy-seeming. Have her sleep without a diaper? She’d already thought through how to be anxious about peeing the bed in that case. Tape her diaper on? She refused for unknown reasons. I thought about calling A in the middle of the night in Addis Ababa and just letting Ingrid wail into the phone. The thought of that sound leaving the house and fading across the continents was calming, but I decided, barely, to spare A the pain. I thought, as usual, about breaking dishes. I stepped into the backyard for a moment and screamed, without words, as loudly as I could. I worried, vaguely, that someone might call the police. Then I came back inside, made seven or eight more failed attempts at calming conversation with Ingrid, walked her, still sobbing (her, not me) up the stairs, and sat by her bed singing our lullaby while she kept moaning and crying. When my voice got tired I stopped singing and sat with my hand on her back until she fell asleep.
When I finally came downstairs, my dinner was long cold. And now it’s way past my bedtime. I hope we’ve forgiven each other by morning. Tomorrow could be a long day.