I was making lunch when I heard Sophie yelling from the basement, “MOM—Get me some food!” I was already tired from a terrible sleep so my patience was wearing thin. I placed the burner on low and marched downstairs.
“If you have something to ASK me like a polite human being then you can come upstairs and do it. Don’t you dare think you can yell orders—I’m not your maid!” I said to my daughter upon reaching her playing quarters.
“Yeah okay whatever.” She replied and dismissively went back to her game of house with Sleepy bear. In that moment I actually felt like I may have a pretty accurate sense of what the Incredible Hulk feels like when transforming into his enraged green self. I could feel the bubbling annoyance that had been residing in my gut grow into an all-out scorching hot fury.
I walked towards the kid, she was none the wiser to what was about to happen and for some sick and twisted reason that made me feel a little giddy—I wanted to see the shock on her face when I did it. I grabbed Sleepy Bear without hesitation and said, “If you want to talk to me like that, then I will be taking Sleepy Bear from you.”
Immediately I regretted thinking it would give me pleasure to see her devastation because it didn’t. As soon as her brain began to recognize what I had just done, her face did too. A shade of anguish had dropped over her and a bellow of devastation broke free from her mouth.
“You can’t do that!” She squealed reaching unsuccessfully for her bear-friend. It occurred to me for a split second how much I could possibly be scarring her right now but I held strong to my guns. She needed to learn the boundaries. This was my reasoning. This was why I walked away with my daughter’s most prized plaything under my arm and didn’t look back despite her tormented screaming.
When I got upstairs I looked at the bear. I knew how much the thing meant to her. I had no intention on actually getting rid of it, but she didn’t know that. So I took it to my bedroom and placed it on the top shelf of my closet.
My heart felt heavy. There was something about all of this that felt unjust. I wished Jamie were here to help me, but he was still in Sylvan Lake waging out his last few weeks of work. It didn’t even occur to me that my daughter may be missing her father too amidst our current battle of superiority.
“I HATE YOU LINDSAY!” She shrieked at me as she charged up the stairs. She has begun calling me by my name but only when she is really pissed off. I took away her Sleepy Bear…She was really pissed off.
“STOP SCREAMING AT ME!” I screamed at her. For a moment the thought, ‘and you wonder where she gets it from’ came to mind. “You are not the adult Sophie. You don’t get to make your own rules and you certainly aren’t allowed to treat people like this.”
She was silent. She stared hard at me for a really long time. Then crumpled unexpectedly to the kitchen floor. She was crying. I moved towards her and found that I was crying too.
“What Sophie? What?” I asked as I wrapped my arms around her. It was so unlike her, usually if she had something to say she had no problem shouting it loud and proud.
“I’m sorry but I just miss Dad.” She said. She was shaking her head as though embarrassed of what she was saying and I couldn’t understand why. Then I thought of what I had been telling my children for the last few weeks since he had left.
“Only two more weeks guys!” “No tears kids, Daddy wouldn’t want you to cry when there is only another week until we see him!” “You have to be strong because it is only a few more days.”
I have basically been telling my children that they aren’t allowed to feel sad about missing their father.
It may not excuse the way Sophie was acting but it sure does explain it. Sometimes we forget that these tiny humans we are raising have a huge bank of emotions inside of them. The same kind of emotions that we adults even have a hard time understanding and expressing. Kids are going to have bad days, just like adults. It’s only logical.
So I leaned in close to my daughter and told her that I missed him too. We sat on the kitchen floor and talked and cried and let our emotions flow freely. And it felt good.
Lindsay Brown is a mother of two and a freelance writer from Alberta.