I rushed my daughter Lu to ballet class this morning. She was not happy to leave the house with 5 minutes left in her Scooby Doo episode, and I threatened no TV for the rest of the day if she didn't stop whining. Fortunately she pulled it together and apologized in the car. We usually run late to our 9:15 class, regardless of whether my husband or I take her. I found some parents at the cafe whose child attends Lucy's preschool, so I had a nice chat and enjoyed tea with them while she danced.
Like most times spent with kids, this morning was a roller coaster. Refreshed from a relaxing tea with my daycare friends, I lost track of the time and arrived a few minutes after ballet class had ended. She greeted me with a worried expression, saying she didn't know where I was, and buried her head in my leg. I felt terrible, but it was a good opportunity to tell her to sit tight with an adult she knows in case I am outside or downstairs when she's done.
Next we went to brunch. Lu had to use the bathroom right away, so we spent what felt like 10 minutes there before we'd even ordered water. When we got to the table, she chose pancakes. Then she asked if the flower on the table was real or fake. I told her fake, and she asked if it was meant to look fancy. I told her it was, and she was disappointed that I would not let her put water in the vase for the fake flower. She immediately assumed a grumpy disposition, and started ducking her head under the table. If I looked under, she'd pop her head up, and vice versa. I was worried she'd bump her head and told her so, and sure enough, 2 minutes later she did. I looked around the room, desperate for escape, silently hoping for a better mood, reminiscing about when I could come to brunch straight from bed at 10:30 and enjoy a mimosa and peace and quiet. Why did I take her to brunch myself? Luckily the food came soon after and she quickly forgot about her boo boo in favor of sausage and scrambled eggs.
Most of the meal progressed uneventfully, enjoyably. I think Lu had been irritable because she was hungry, and she started acting more like herself. Near the end of the meal, she discovered the delight of blowing bubbles in her water. She squealed with excitement, and beamed a smile of pure joy. She asked me to try, so we took turns for a while. We were quickly back in our flow. The innocent pleasure of discovering a fun new trick was evident on my daughter's face, and so rewarding to watch.
She had to use the bathroom again before we left. This can create havoc, but this time, she was cooperative and we played little games like "my boot fell off." She told me, "mommy, you're the best mommy ever!" This is why I take her to brunch, I reminded myself. As we walked out, satisfied, suddenly she began whining that her leotard felt uncomfortable and tugging at it. I attempted to adjust it without success, and begged her to just come with me and fix it in the car. She dragged her feet and whined most of the way, and was crying about how uncomfortable her outfit was by the time we got to the car. She cheered up on the way home, comforted by cheerios.
I titled this post typical because it sums up my experience with parenting thus far. Just when I think, this kid is the best, and I have it together today, she humbles me in the same thought with some tantrum or unmet need. And as soon as I draw in an exasperated breath, thinking, I just have to make it through this unpleasant moment, she pulls me close and makes me wonder why I would ever think of being anywhere else.