after bedtime, while i was across the room dozing off and putting the baby to bed, naomi decided it would be a good idea to reach under her pillow for the little box her tooth is in. in the dark. of course it got lost.
even though we made a big ritual of putting it under there, even though i explained fifty thousand times that if she loses it the tooth fairy won't come, she needs to be careful, it's a tiny tooth it could get lost don't lose it, kid, take care, show respect blah blah blah blah blah.
i might as well have been on mute.
because she opened the box, lost the tooth, and in that tone that drives me absolutely batty because it sounds so fucking spoiled "mo-mmy, i lost my too-ooth." (which wakes up the baby). i hate that tone, because it's obvious she thinks i'm going to come over there and make the tiny tooth magically reappear and pat her on the head and put her back to bed and everything's going to be hunky-dory. as if i was just blowing hot air all day. as if i'm made of steel.
i whisper "damn. guess the tooth fairy won't be coming".
then, heedless of everyone around her, she starts with the operatics. again, i don't know how many times she's been told (and has seen for herself) that noise after bedtime is a surefire way to get me going. it's like she can't learn. it's like she puposely doesn't retain information, out of spite.
i want to smack her.
i think about it.
espcecially when she acts surprised and upset (and escalates the screaming) when i tell her the tooth fairy can't come now, because there is no tooth to retrieve. she acts traumatized, as if she wasn't warned all fucking day. (i would no longer judge impatience in a mother's voice. i know that the first 50 times she said whatever she's saying, she was probably perfectly calm.)
i want to tell her she ruined everything, it's all her fault. i want to tell her that having a tooth fall out didn't make her a big girl, not being able to follow this simple instruction means she's just a selfish baby who lost a tooth. like a ten year old who gets her period isn't a woman; she's just a ten year old kid with grown up hormones.
most of the things i want to say would go right over her head. i indulge in some mildly abusive things in big words she doesn't know. but there's no mistaking the tone.
after i calm down a bit, i try to walk her through her thought process, what did she think she was doing when she decided to take the box out again? at what point could she have made a differenct choice? she conveniently forgot any reasons she had. she just sobbed like i killed her kitty and called me mean and a bad mommy and i felt like utter shit. i felt like i should not be responsible for a four year old's mental health, because i clearly am not cut out for it.
i hate it when she acts stupid, and pretends she didn't understand me in order to do whatever she wants. i hate it when she doesn't take me seriously. i hate it when she doesn't listen. i hate it that she doesn't do this to other people; if it were her nana putting naomi to bed tonight, she would have taken the utmost care, she would have been awed enough to leave the fucking box under the fucking pillow.
i suck at this. everyone seems to be better at bringing good behavior out of her than me. letting go of the anger gives way to the self-loathing. it's better to hurt one's self than one's children. swallowing more feelings in order to calm her down, and get both of them to sleep, and maybe make up for some of the more awful things i said in anger and frustration. naomi and i fall asleep curled together. i hate myself.
i hate it that we lost her first tooth. i hate it that this rite of passage was marred by her fumble and my freakout. why couldn't she just listen to me? believe me? respect me? you open up a small box in the dark, you're going to lose the fucking tooth. you lost the tooth, you don't get squat. so be careful, be respectful. what's so hard to understand about that?
and if it's this bad when she's almost five, what it going to be like when she's 17?
i found naomi's tooth this morning, nestled into the carpet near the bed. we put it back in the box, we're going to try again.
we talked about how her choices could have been made better, how i overreacted. she remembered every horrible thing i said. she understood more than i thought she could.
she also apologized. "i'm sorry mom. i must have put my brain in my butt". and she forgave me.
i said we all act on impulses sometimes. i said that she and i are so much alike. i sympathized with her for being so excited about her tooth that she had to try and look at it one more time. i forgave her for acting on the impulse and disobeying my instructions.
forgiving myself, not so simple. but life moves along.
one of the most humbling things about parenting is when you realize how your parents got so crazy. and you understand. and you suddenly see yourself as what you were: a brat.
it's okay. we could all use a little humility. i'll do better next time.