Tuesday, September 25, 2007

She's sooooo good at being 2.

My youngest daughter is 26 months old. Two and some change. And she is frighteningly good at it at times. Sister Goldenhair is a body full of passions. What she wants may change from time to time, but rest assured she really, really, really wants it. Bad.

Where Miss B was all easygoing charm and in love with the world at large, SG is more the brooding silent type. At least as far as everyone else is concerned. Miss B takes after her dad, and Woody never met a stranger. Poor SG takes after her mother, and I take some time to warm up to people/situations. But once I know you, you would never usually think me the shy, retiring type. So it goes with SG.

But for those of us blessed to have her in our daily lives, SG is pure toddler. Her vocabulary is growing every day, yet she can't express herself as she likes. This results in tantrums. She is growing more adventurous, but doesn't like to be pressed into trying something new. This results in tantrums. She can understand what she's told and knows that there are rules, but doesn't like it when the rules are enforced. This results in tantrums. Are you seeing a pattern here?

I don't want to give you the idea that SG is a rotten little kid, she's just a typical kid. There are few things that warm my heart more than her infectious giggle and silly faces. But there are few things that frazzle me quicker than when SG is on a rampage.

This past Sunday found my sweet baby in rare form. She got to sit with me during church because she is recovering from yet another ear infection (and I didn't want to expose all the other kids). During Sunday school she hounded me for cookies that she had seen me pack in her bag. I told her firmly that the cookies were for later (during church). She persisted, until I explained that in church she would see Papaw and Granny -- then she could have cookies. SG was quiet for a minute, then began to say, "I want Papaw." She is a smart little girl.

Church then saw us visiting the bathroom 3 times. After the first visit, she felt compelled to announce to those seated nearby, "I go potty!" We left a bit early (I hate distracting everyone else with our constant comings and goings). As usual we went to Granny and Papaw's for dinner.

Dinner time found SG unhappy with her food choices. Granny had thoughtfully bought her some chocolate mousse yogurt. SG has had this before and loved it. But this time refused to try it. She even sat in the corner rather than try one bite.

Back home and after her nap she continued to pursue perfect two-ness. She managed to reach onto a cabinet and snag the Lysol. I heard a hissing sound from the laundry room and found her spraying Lysol in the family room, utterly fascinated. Her stint in the corner turned into a stint in her crib after she refused to stay put, saying simply and clearly, "Want out."

As I prepared dinner she rummaged my craft area and found my markers. Luckily we found each other before anything could be ruined. She also found the cookies in the lunch drawer, and was quite put out after I took them away.

Again and again we found ourselves at cross purposes, and each time I thwarted her plans was like a crushing blow. She wept and sought solace in my arms, loving me even though I had been the one to devastate her. And I, for my part, could not love her more if she were the compliant, people-pleaser type. She is my shy little spitfire, and I wouldn't change a thing. I might long for peace and quiet, but I wouldn't give up an ounce of what makes my girls unique. The old song is true, "one is the loneliest number." And I know that someday my girls will grow up and leave home. I am holding on to this time for as long as God lets me. I'm in no hurries to have Miss B and SG grow up. So Sister Goldenhair can continue her reign of toddler terror, and I will always be there to give solace and a hug.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Consequences of Speaking Too Soon

So in my last post I made the bold statement that I could handle the usual childhood traumas involving blood or other injuries in a calm, efficient manner. Stomach fluids are the only thing that really gets to me, I asserted.

Unfortunately, it appears that I must now qualify my claims of grace under fire. It seems that I can muster my inner Scarlett O'Hara only when I am witness to the injury. Otherwise I fear that I seem to muster my inner "chicken-with-it's-head-cut-off." I'm not quite as bad as that sounds. But until I know exactly what happened and the severity of the injury, I am a wreck.

This was clearly revealed to me about a week and a half ago. My family was attendig my Dad's union picnic. As the annual raffle was starting, a friend noticed that someone's ticket was stuck to the lid of the drawing barrel. I hopped up to fix it, leaving Sister Goldenhair sitting next to my mom. As I was about to return to our table, I heard SG begin to wail. I saw my mom holding her and assumed that SG had tried to follow me and was told no. SG is two, and "no" is the kind of word that can quickly conjur tears (in both of us). As I got closer I still didn't realize that what happened was more serious than hurt feelings.

But then I saw Sister Goldenhair's face, covered in blood. It seems SG had indeed tried to follow me, but got her foot caught on the picnic bench and face first in to the cement slab underneath. Her chin took the brunt of the blow and she very nearly bit through her bottom lip. The bleeding was profuse. I tried to use napkins to absorb the blood and ice to dull the pain, but it was useless. I was useless. Mimi was also on hand and I asked both mothers/grandmothers if I should take her to the ER for stitches. Another mother in crowd came over and said the same thing had happened to her grandson and three stitches were needed.

I would have been a bit panicked even if I had seen everything that happened, but the not seeing made it so much worse. I tried to get a firm hand on that inner-headless-chicken. Granny and Mimi helped talk me down, and the bleeding finally stopped. No stitches were needed and SG would be running around happily later that same evening.

There was a turning point in the whole situation. A moment when Scarlett O'Hara began to win out over the chicken. When SG realized through her pain that I was there. She called out to me, and I took her in my arms. She calmed down quite a bit, and so did I. I was still tense as I asked Granny and Mimi what I should do, but in those same moments I had some peace. I knew that I had done something right in my life if this sweet little girl found comfort in my arms. She even fell asleep once the bleeding had stopped. I held her close for so long that afternoon that my arms hurt for several days afterward. Usually I would have passed her to a grandmother, but I could not seem to let her go.

I do not know if I'll ever really be able to let go of either of my girls. They are such perfect gifts from God. Part of the danger in loving someone so much, is that the potential for hurt is so much greater. Sometimes in my life, I have been able to pull back from someone to avoid being hurt. But not with my girls. All my cards are on the table with them. We are never guaranteed another moment on this earth, so if nothing else I want them to always know that they have my love.

P.S. This was SG's third union picnic. At the first (when she was only a little over a month old) she was stung and bitten by a yellow jacket. Her whole arm swelled up. Last year she was unhappy about needing a nap. After this year, I think we might be forced to reevaluate our attendance of this particular picnic.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Attack of the Mysterious Barfing Flu

As you can guess from the title, the time since my last post has been a bit hectic. The girls were both stricken with what seems to be a yearly bout of the Mysterious Barfing Flu.

And just what makes this barfing flu so mysterious? It seems to stalk its unsuspecting prey, waiting for the right moment to strike. And just what is the right moment? It has become obvious to me that it must include nocturnal regurgitation of the sort that requires an immediate change of bedding and deep, motherly soul searching (such as, "Why didn't I put a trashcan next to Miss B as soon as she said her stomach hurt?" or "Why God, why must barf smell like this?").

And you should also know that barf is my Achilles heel. While I never like to see my girls suffer, most illness, injuries, and emergencies seem to bring out my best poker face. While I inwardly scream and mentally catalog all the possible negative outcomes, I appear to be confident and assured of a happy end to whatever episode is occurring. I can think clearly and rationally, I just can't stop also thinking of all the what ifs. Barf is different. I cannot maintain an appearance of calm when faced with the most thankless of mom jobs: vomit patrol. Sure, it looks gross, but it's all in the smell.

Once, when I was pregnant with Sister Goldenhair, Miss B was struck by the most dreaded of Mysterious Barfing Flu bugs: The Mysterious 15-Minute Interval Barfing Flu. I was forced to call my husband at work and plead for him to leave work early. Whenever I've been pregnant my sense of smell has been incredibly sensitive, so this particular strain of TMBF was particularly excruciating for me. And since it lasted for most of the night...

What? The girls were suffering too, you say? Well that's a given, but as a mature, responsible parent I can still say, "Yuck!" There's nothing like a little stomach acid to make a woman want her mommy. And once Miss B began to recover from her bout with TMBF, we foolishly thought that was it.

We were wrong. Two nights later, Sister Goldenhair was laid low by this evil bug. And even worse, at her tender age of 2, she was confused and frightened by the stomach-emptying spasms. Any attempts at collection/containment were met by tears and fervent attempts to be held. It was traumatizing for both of us.

While neither Woody nor myself were infected by TMBF, I consider myself a victim just the same.