Just Another Afternoon in the Zoo

I spent the entire day shopping.  Not only shopping, but shopping completely unplugged (due to an unfortunate glitch with my phone; I assure you, it was not intentional.  I’m just not that virtuous.  But it turned out to be a rather pleasant inconvenience.)

It was such a lovely day.  Until 3:00. That is because 3:00 is when I picked up my daughter from preschool.  What could be wrong with that, you ask.  Well, nothing at first.  She happily ran to greet me when I walked in the door, but as soon as we went to put her coat on, things went south.  FAST.

She immediately started in with the whining.  Her sleeves didn’t feel right.  Her hair was bothering her.  The sky was blue.  You get the picture.

Once in the car, and the wailing began.  Then came the full-on tantrum, complete with the kicking of the car seats.  Oh yeah.  It was lovely.

I calmly told her, when there was a pause in the commotion, that she knows I don’t respond when she speaks to me that way.  Unphased, she continued to protest, as I thought to myself, “And I felt guilty about leaving her at school till three o’clock?  I should have left her till FIVE.”

Trying to remain unruffled, I once again told her that I would answer her when she spoke respectfully to me.

At first the screaming escalated.  And then suddenly all was quiet.  For three minutes, I reveled in the silence.

Then.

“Mommy?” in the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard.

“My hair’s bothering me.”

“I’m sorry, hon,” I reply sympathetically.

She was satisfied.  For the moment.

But when we pulled into the driveway, she wanted me to carry her and I had my hands full.  That’s all it took, and she picked up with the tantrum right where she left off before.

Once inside she grudgingly allowed me to help her off with her coat, and then our eyes met.  For a moment I gazed at my sulky, petulant child, wondering at the miracle of a mother’s love.  All of the anger and frustration of the past 20 minutes melted away, and I felt only love and pity for this little piece of me.

I opened my arms and she walked in.  I picked her up and she clung to me.  Instinctively I knew that she needed snuggle time more than discipline.  She was tired.  It had been a long day for her.  I get that.

That doesn’t excuse the behavior, not by a long shot.  But she is simply too immature to understand her emotions or manage her response appropriately.

I sat down on the couch and held her close.  She wiggled even closer and buried her cool cheek into my neck.  We sat that way for a long time.  I think she would have fallen asleep except for the big yellow bus that soon rolled down the street, dispatching several lively school-age children at my door.

Suddenly the house came alive with the hustle and bustle of snack requests and homework questions and tales of the school day, and the angst of the previous hour was soon forgotten.  Well, almost.  Because clearly here I am, writing about it.

Please tell me I’m not alone.  Does this story sound familiar to anyone?  I’d love to tell you that I have no prior experience with this type of event, but that would be a lie.  I’d also love to offer some sage advice or a lesson learned from this afternoon, but if you’re looking for that, you’re at the wrong blog.  But then you knew that, right?