Just Like the Weather

Ah, the capriciousness of a preschooler’s opinions! When Claire is going through particular physical developments — such as learning to use scissors, cutting with a plastic knife, and so on, I’ve noticed our relationship hits an emotional roller coaster. Just last night as I tucked Claire in, we enjoyed the sweetest exchange.

Me: “Night night honey, I love you, you’re my favorite girl in the world.”

Claire: “Night Mommy, you’re my favorite Mommy. I think I’ll keep you, and even if you’re mad at me I’ll love you and take care of you when you get sick. And I’ll give you milk or juice or water, but you have to choose which one.”

Then, out of the blue at lunch today, she said, “I want better parents. Ones who don’t hit. I’ll go live with PJ’s parents.”

Now before you call CPS on me, I confess: in the past nearly four years, I can count on one hand the instances I have, in a moment of heated reaction, smacked a hand or a leg. I even wrote about the first time. We do not discipline with physical force in our family, and yet there have been those few occasions when I have lost myself and my control. It’s usually after we’ve had a build-up of tensions and disagreements over many many days, which peak in her swatting or shoving me. I feel very sad on those occasions, and disappointed in myself.

As she gets older, her memory is growing indelible. After last week’s blowout she said, “It’s not nice for big people to hit little people, because they’re stronger.” And of course how does a child process the family rule of We Do Not Hit if her parent does? We talked about how important it is to use other ways to express anger, and I need to be more diligent about putting my bottom on the zafu. I’m a pretty good parent, but Claire teaches me all the time how to be the adult in our relationship.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart or those of thin endurance.

The odd bit is that we’d been having a lovely day so far, so I’m not sure what prompted this. I replied to her statement that she could look for other people to be her parents but that Daddy and I will always love her and be her parents and she will always be our girl.

Soon she moved on to asking me, “What’s in your imagination, Mommy?” And I replied I was thinking about hummingbirds, since we have a feeder right outside our dining room window and they often feed and fight over it. I asked what was in her imagination, and she replied:

“I imagine being a kangaroo and bouncing and having a joey. I imagine being a mermaid! I wish to be a dog and be a friend and live with each others [sic] and have puppies and live with you and you could own me forever.” And I told her we belonged to each other forever.

Then she moved on to talking about dinosaurs, and Sid the Science Kid, and announced, “Fruit sometimes gets dead. It decays and breaks down, But then nature starts all over again! Then the fruits and vegetables grow all again!”

Love this girl.

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