Friday, March 15, 2013

Warts, Jewels and Faerie Houses

This is a Faerie House.

I thought today was going to be different. But when the day started with 4 am screaming, I should have realized it wasn’t going to get better.
I always think it’s going to be fun. And manageable. But then the reality of life with an almost-three-year-old sets in…unpredictability reigns.
It’s beautiful out. And I was running out of ideas. I suggested we go to the botanical gardens and see the “faerie homes” show. L.E. seemed excited. I wanted to wait until the weather warmed up a little bit so we watched Wreck-It Ralph first. I dressed her during the end of the movie. She was so happy to be wearing shorts!
We got to the botanical gardens without incident. I asked her to carry her backpack – with the diaper pouch – and she refused.
We saw so many faerie houses and L.E. loved them so much she wanted to touch them. She found a bamboo stick – not a faerie house part, we swear – and pretended it was a microphone.
Then she saw the gate.
If there ever was something I would consider my mortal enemy, besides a bagel, it’s a locked fence that L.E. can reach. She shook the gate again and again. I said we had to keep walking. She screamed and kicked as I dragged her away.
She begged me to carry her. The whole park heard her beg. I could only carry her five minutes at a time. After I carried her around downtown yesterday, I wasn’t feeling as strong. Plus the path was pretty uneven. We saw a waterfall and a dinosaur statue. She calmed down. Everything seemed OK until she uttered the words no parent in the throes of potty-training ever wants to hear: I’m pooping.
I scooped her up. Thoughts of “Why didn’t I put a diaper on her? Why didn’t I bring diapers with us?” ran through my head. I didn’t notice any poop in her undies but I knew it was only a matter of time. I ran while carrying her to the bathroom. (How many Weight Watchers Points do I get back for that?) She was clean and even peed in the potty.
I stuck a diaper back on her, just in case.
All was well. She said she wanted some lunch. I knew of a place nearby that had a playground. We ordered our food; she wanted to go outside. I said we had to wait till our food was ready. The tears started again. We got the food and went outside. She ran head-first into the playscape. The tears continued. She played for all of five minutes when she came running back over.
This time it wasn’t a drill; she really had pooped.
I took her to the car and cleaned her up, and I soon realized we didn’t have any spare plastic bags. (Damn you, Austin bag ban!) Did I mention I had to carry our food with us because I was worried it would get thrown away? Nobody really wants to carry lunch in one hand and a diaper in the other. Luckily there was a garbage can not too far away and I had my trusty hand-sanitizer.
L.E. wanted to play some more. I agreed, against my better judgment. As we headed back to the playground, a little girl ran past us and smacked into the table we were walking by, spilling a man’s drink. He gave me the dirtiest look you can imagine. I said, “I had nothing to do with that one, sir.” You could hear his eyes rolling in disgust.
I almost lost it on him. Deep breath. 3…2…1…
Five more minutes of eating my sweet potato fries and I hear the all-too-familiar screams on the other side of the playscape. She’s hanging on the climbing part, with a guilty-looking little boy nearby. He said, “I’m sorry,” and ran off.
I carried L.E. to the car. No more fries or nuggets. No milkshake. The day is over.
She fell asleep in the car. I saw her sweet sleeping face in the rearview mirror and immediately felt awash with guilt.
She’s an amazing little girl. I am lucky to be her mom.
The CEO of the last major corporation where I worked once talked about discerning between the warts and the jewels. It was an expression I’d never heard before and I thought it was quite ugly when she was referring to employees being laid off. But now I realize that’s the best way to describe parenting. Some days are warts. And some days are jewels. I guess what I need to keep in mind is that they all can’t be jewels.
Today was a wart.

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