Don’t hold your breath

She’s five.

When she was freshly born, Chris said that having a kid was a countdown until they are five and could go to school. We were panicking at the onslaught of parenthood–the unrelenting nature of another demanding human being.

At five now, she loves books. She has for her entire life. She’d discovered the Reading Rainbow app, and now Levar Burton and his cast of actors read books to her. It’s my job to  cuddle her while the book is being read though.

Happy to delegate the actual reading of the words to the iPad, I listen to Udemy on my iPhone and to to learn my next skill. Cozy,

So the toileting, teeth brushing and bath went forward that night. The towelling and donning of the jammies. The crossing off the day on the whiteboard calendar we’ve given her to track the passage of time was complete.

And the iPad would not boot up.

No problem, right? We’ve got a huge pile of real books.

Veronica was sobbing. She’s tired. “It’s okay, we will read your princess book.” Once I started to read the adventures of Ariel and the shark, she stopped sobbing.

And Daddy came to safe the day, the device was restored and we finished the night with a few stories from Burton’s library.

Somehow, though, things had gotten off track. This small (to my mind) disturbance in the force changed the tone of everything. It’s hard enough for her to fall into the arms of Morpheus on an average night.

As I was flossing Chris came out and said she was sobbing and wouldn’t stop and he’d had it. I took over.

Sitting up in her bed, in her beloved pink bathrobe, her face controted. “Veronica, do you want to be sad?”

Violent head shake. No.

“Would you like to try to be happy?”

Assent.

“Ok, bunny, lay down. Put your head on the pillow.”

A child cries so openly. She caught and held her breath, trying to control the sobs. I remember doing that, fighting for control.

“Breathe” I tell her. We take long breaths together. I can see her visibly relax.

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I was supposed to get a story from Reading Rainbow. And then the game wouldn’t come on. That’s not how you are supposed to treat your daughter.”

Well. How unfair is that? It’s broken and we fixed it anyway. She missed ONE STORY of her allotted three.

But according to her, that’s no way to treat your daughter.

Unrealistic expectations abound. Sometimes things break. But for her, that’s no excuse and no comfort.

She’s five. She’ll get over it.

I wonder. Other people push unrealistic expectations on me. Maybe the biggest difference is that she will cry and tell me what her unrealistic expectation is.

A lot of other people will have the expectation, and keep their disappointment tight to their chest. It could be unfair and it could be unavoidable. And still.

The injury remains.

“I’m sorry Veronica. You really wanted Reading Rainbow.”

That’s the thing about parenting. The humanness of it. It’s not fair.

Life isn’t fair.

Hello, Life. I name you Veronica. And you named me Mommy.

Breathe. That’s right. And another one…

That feels better.

 

 

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