Disconnect

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.
Ingrid:What?
Me:      The fuzzy green hat.
Ingrid: WHAT?
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.

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7 thoughts on “Disconnect

  1. I think this is the sort of thing that is far more traumatic for the mother than the child. Ingrid will forget about it before you do, if only because having a child melt down because her diaper might fall off is pretty funny after enough time has passed to dull the pain.

    I hope things get better soon. It sucks to be the solo parent.

    And now something random to distract you: the captcha I got was “pawnzym”, and because I’m trained as a protein biochemist, I automatically typed “pawnzyme”, like some sort of enzyme that sells your jewelry because it needs cash. How sad is it that I can’t even see the letters “zym” without thinking of something like that?

  2. oh shit. If anything in particular drives me crazy about kids it’s the irrationality. Basically by definition there is no sane way to deal with it.

  3. We’ve had a few of these. I’ve decided to be philosophical about it and take it as a sign that a) kid is becoming a person and b) it’s a lesson to kid that people can be mad, yell, and then love each other anyway. And, that one day he’ll be an irrational teenager and we’ll have the same fights, so it’s a learning opportunity for me on how to deal when he’s old enough to remember each and every word and will hold them all against me. 🙂

  4. Ugh. But I think every household has this stuff.

    I don’t really remember these episodes from my own childhood, but I do remember the pinching, slapping, etc., that they usually escalated to, so basically what I am saying is: no harm, no foul.

  5. My take on these kind of events is that they are totally caused by overtiredness, and the child will seize on any minute, irrational thing, and turn it into a BIG THING. Only cure I think is back rubbing and sleep.

  6. Yeah, my calm-but-firm runs out pretty fast, especially at bedtime. Having lost it once or twice, I can now tell A that I am about to get mad, so I want to leave before that happens. And apparently she remembers my mad face so vividly that she always agrees with me. I hope today was better for you guys!

  7. I’m sorry about the tough end to the day. And I am DYING to know what she ate/chewed in school! Please ask the teachers and report back!

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