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OK, it’s been a few hours now and I’ve calmed down. At about 8:30 AM this morning, this post was a lot “rant-ier” in my head. It involves many more CAPITAL LETTERS and would have probably been much more entertaining.
First, let me say that I love ALL of my children…all five of them…with a special place in my heart for my dog. They bring me joy. I thank God for them. They are a blessing. They are the wind beneath my wings. I love spending time with them. I enjoy being a “Daddy.” Yadda…yadda…yadda… But it’s true.
That said, they can be obnoxious as all get-out and cause me undue stress. I’m sure those of you with kids of your own will know what I’m talking about.
Today it was Miss Abigail…one of our not-quite-four-year-old twins. Today it was Abigail. Tomorrow it could be someone else. In our house right now, it’s often Abigail. She is, what some may call, “willful.” That, can be a good thing. Oftentimes it’s a trying thing. She’s a girl who knows what she wants and will let you know when you’ve got it wrong.
This story really starts last night when Abigail wouldn’t go to sleep and kept calling out for “Mommy.” (It’s hardly ever “Daddy!” which is called out at night in our house.) She was keeping her older sisters up. She was keeping her twin sister up. She was making it hard for her parents to go to bed. Just wouldn’t calm down even though her twin sister, Bethany, was out like a light on her own bed.
Eventually she fell asleep. But, as any parent knows, this was going to make the next morning…today… more difficult.
Which brings us to this morning. Today, the young girls were going to get up early enough for Mommy to put their hair in buns so they could look all nice and pretty when they went off to daycare. They had buns last night and were told they had to get them out before going to bed. So, we tried to get them up a little early…by around 7:40 AM to make this happen before Mommy needed to go to work at the school around 8:05 or thereabouts.
I woke them up singing a wonderful, sing-songy Daddy song. They woke up. But they wouldn’t move. Bethany got moving…went potty…got dressed…sat reasonably still so Mommy could do her hair. Abigail was fussy, distracted, etc. Mommy wanted me to brush Abigail’s hair to get it ready for the ponytail and bun, but Abigail would have none of it. Time was running out for Mommy to get to work and, after some difficult brushing, very quickly Abigail got her bun. This was probably around 8:05 AM. Mommy had to leave…now.
But something was wrong with the bun according to Abigail. It wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. She started throwing a temper tantrum while my lovely wife and two older girls were trying to leave the house. She was mad. In the temper tantrum she pulled out the bun from her hair and kept screaming that she wanted a bun.
I don’t know how to do buns. I can do ponytails. I can put in barrettes. “I don’t know how to do buns,” I told her. She followed me, screaming, as I tried to shower and get ready to go for the day. “AND YOU PULLED OUT THE BUN YOU ALREADY HAD!!!!” We’d been working on 40 minutes of general fussiness and frustration at this point.
The crying calmed down. She got to a place where she could say, with a very forced smile on her face, “Daddy, please give me another bun.” Even Bethany said, almost too pleasantly for the circumstances, “Daddy, why don’t you just give her a bun?”
I don’t DO buns…but how could I resist the two of them?
So, with lots of excuses for my handiwork, I gave her a bun and it looked good and we were ready to go…
…or so I thought.
Abigail wanted to wear a Sleeping Beauty Tiara to daycare. But she couldn’t put it on because of that wonderful bun I had put in her hair. And, in a fit, she pulls out the bun again and wears the tiara.
I’m not happy. She’s at least not as unhappy as she was. We can go. It’s 8:35 and my visions for getting out of the house early with two twins in their nice hair buns and in good moods is out the window. But we can go.
We get downstairs to the door, coats on, boots on, tiaras on, bags in hand…and Abigail informs me that I didn’t get her a bandaid that I was supposed to get her…a “Kai-lan” bandaid for those familiar with the TV show.
I know that if we don’t go back upstairs to get the bandaid for her almost-invisible-to-the-naked-eye cut she will cry the whole time I’m trying to get her in her car seat and will throw a fit as we drive to the daycare. I know it.
So, upstairs we go. She points out the bandaids. She tells me which one to get. She shows me where to put it. I put it on ever so lovingly….
And then she screams at me, “NO, THAT’S NOT RIGHT” and starts pulling the bandaid off.
I’d had enough. You know that “tied up in knots” feeling you get inside when you’re very stressed by a situation. I had this. And I’m sure I’ll regret writing this online because she’ll probably find this when she’s 22. But, I said, rather loudly and with not an ounce of humor or joy in my voice or on my face, “Look, you little ingrate. I have nothing else for you. We’re done. We have to go.”
I know that’s harsh. She really not a “little ingrate” ALL the time. But…for some reason, this exchange was OK. I have no idea why. Bethany, who had been doing her best to stay out of the way, led the way down the stairs. We went out to the car. We drove to daycare. They ran in. They hugged and kissed me. And it was OK. Wow. Anticlimactic. They were fine. I thanked God that a four-year-old’s short attention span means they move on pretty quickly from an emotional outburst.
I, however, needed to relax with a coffee at my favorite coffee shop. I needed to sit without the stress of kids yelling at me or trying my darnedest to please them and having little to no success.
And with that first sip of my “16 ounce, skinny, sugar-free hazelnut latte with half the usual amount of hazelnut” I entered into the grown-uup world again. Checking e-mails. Conversations about music. Following up with commitments. Enjoying the feel of the coffee cup in my hand.
That is how my kids are driving me to drink (coffee). Today it was Abigail. Tomorrow it may be one of the other four. And I’ll be able to retreat into my coffee cup again. This, you might guess, is not the first time I’ve sought out the coffee shop for de-stress.
Now, if anyone out there has actually gotten to the end of this post, I ask a couple of things from you.
- Remember that this all started with my comment that I love my kids. If you recount this story to Abigail when she’s older, I ask that you start with that too. And, if get to meet her when she’s older I’m sure you’ll love her, too. She can, however, be a pistol.
- If you’re ever wondering what gift you can get me, a coffee card to a local coffee shop does wonders. On some days, it seems that that’s what keeps me sane. It has healing properties that some don’t truly appreciate.