This evening I horrified myself.
Do-Bug and I were in my parents’ basement with a few two-by-fours. I was dutifully cutting them to appropriate lengths even though we should have been at home eating dinner because we both wanted to start making her special table. Every time I turned on the saw, she shrieked and dashed behind a curtain. Given my state of hunger and exhaustion, I couldn’t focus on the whirring blade, my fingers, and her whereabouts all at the same time. I told her so.
But I wasn’t very nice.
I said something along the lines of “How can I concentrate when you’re whining like a little baby? This is your project.”
As soon as it came out of my mouth, I sent a silent prayer out to the universe that my mother hadn’t heard. My mother, a noted professor of early childhood education, who would be so ashamed of me for saying those words to my child. First of all, babies whine for good reason. They’re scared or hungry or lonely or uncomfortable, or all four. Second, it was such a demeaning insult. It was the equivalent of telling a boy he was acting like a little girl. It is both insulting to the boy and the girl. In this case, it was insulting to both Do-Bug and the anonymous baby.
Fortunately, I have a forgiving child and she recognized my state of frustration. She hopped right over and asked what she could do to help. It didn’t make my insult any less insulting. Or my shame any less shameful. But it did help me get over it.
It is hard, sometimes, to have a five-year-old. They are a baby and a big kid stuck in the same skin and you never know which one you’re going to get.
The upside to all this is that Do-Bug got to see me frustrated, express my frustration, and then work through the problem to realize that I couldn’t solve it tonight. I was too tired and hungry to use the electric saw and, to be safe and smart, we needed to finish our project at another time. So we put it away for another day.
It is hard, sometimes, to be a grown-up. I am a child and a parent stuck in the same skin and I never know which one will come out to say ‘hello’ or ‘crap.’