sometimes this parenting gig is a whole lotta hard
"But I gotta go, Mumma."
Because the child's immune system doesn't function properly, and because sometimes it affects her digestive system, when she says she has to go to the bathroom, we don't ask questions. We just find a bathroom.
Okay, I said, let's go, and we started walking home.
"But I'll miss the bus, Mumma."
"It's okay, Bean. I can drive you to school."
The child freaked out. She wanted to go on the bus with her friends. She didn't want to miss out on sitting next to Sarah, her best friend from Kindergarten who isn't in her class this year. She was screaming. Yelling. Stamping her feet. Total meltdown. But, the thing is, if she really had to go to the bathroom, getting on the bus at that point was a very very bad idea. So I ignored her meltdown and kept walking towards home.
The volume of the screaming brought the neighbors to their windows, and then, when we got home, she refused to go to the bathroom. Her way of punishing me for "making me MISS THE BUS!"
And because I'm a good mother, instead of trying to figure out exactly why she was so upset (because while she is a stubborn and sometimes-spirited kid, she was way off the charts with her reaction to riding to school with me instead of on the bus), I yelled at her. And she yelled back. So I yelled louder. And so did she.
Before I knew it, I was furious at her for picking the worst possible time of day to have a tantrum and she was sobbing.
"You don't love me!" she wailed.
"I love you!" I shouted back at her. "I just hate when you act this way!"
"YOU HATE ME!"
This would be where I took a deep breath and remembered that I am the adult in this relationship. I hugged her. I told her I loved her more than anything. I told her that loving her doesn't mean I have to like bad behavior. I told her I wasn't angry about missing the bus, and that she did the right thing telling me her tummy didn't feel so great. I told her I didn't want her to think she can't tell me that she needs to go back to the house, even if the bus is sitting right there at the corner, and that I will always take her home, and that I will never make her go on the bus if her tummy feels yucky...
"That's what I was nervous about, Mumma. That I'd be on the bus and my tummy would start hurting. What if my new teacher doesn't know and doesn't let me go when I need to? I don't really have to go to the bathroom right now. I feel kind of scared about school."
I quickly decided that I am the worst mother on the planet, and then I talked to her.
We had a nice talk, and by the time I drove her to school she was reassured and feeling just fine. She kissed me good-bye, told me she loved me, and trotted off down the hall.
I found her teacher and explained why my daughter's face was all splotchy, and the teacher, who has to be about 100 years younger than I am, put her hand on my arm and said, "Oh, sweetie, I imagine it's very hard for you to let her come to us every day. Trusting us with her health must be a giant leap of faith. I'll reassure her later, when she's had a chance to settle in for the day. I'll take good care of her, I promise."
It was like a bell went off. I thought, yes, it is hard, and *ding*, there it was. It is very hard to let my daughter go to school every day. I have this low-grade, nagging worry when she's there because I'm not with her. What if she gets sick? What if the teacher forgets she needs to be able to just get up and leave the class? What if some kid in the cafeteria smears her with strawberry jam and she stops breathing? What if...what if...what if...
Today I let my worry turn into something else, and I made my baby cry. She's fine now, having a great day in first grade. Her teacher called to tell me this because she didn't want me to spend the day feeling bad about a bad morning.
"Lemony Child is fine," she assured me. "Having a perfectly nice day."
I'm happy for that.
Now if only I could forgive myself for having a bad morning.