Happy Friday, all! I can’t help but share one more dear daughter (DD) story as we wrap up the week. Why? I stumbled upon my ill-fated attempt at a ‘mommy blog’ that I sustained for a couple of years and then, darn it all, I got caught up in who-knows-what and my well-intended effort remained just that. Good intentions, no persistence. And yet…as I perused some ancient entries yesterday, there were a few that gave me a giggle, so I thought I’d share one of them. Here we go…
Even as a tot, our girl was ever perceptive about the unusual behaviors she saw in my mom and sister. How do you describe to a two-year old that her “Nanny” is an alcoholic with mental health issues and her aunt, my sister Lisa, is different because of her disabilities? Answer? You don’t, really, you just move through parenting life, answering questions as they come up. (The backstory about my sweet sister can be found, in part, here, in my “Loving Lisa” post.)
Me? I was our dear daughter’s dysfunctional family tour guide and while I screwed up plenty (sharing too much, explaining when I didn’t need to) I’m grateful that our now grown girl put it all into perspective, this way: Families are messy.
The particular messiness that plagued my mom and sister? Tremendous hypochondria with side orders of other issues. Given the time and distance, I understand, now, how their issues impacted my parenting. How? When DD was small, she had a tendency to take flying leaps out of her crib because she was long-legged and adventurous. Always trying to normalize, we’d dust her off and move on, not wanting her to fall (wink!) into drama queen territory about bumps and bruises. “Hey, your dismount wasn’t great, but shake it off. You’re good – let’s go.” It sounds like bad parenting when I say it that way, but I wasn’t careless, I just didn’t want her to milk the small stuff.
Why was this on my mind with a two-year old? It only took one long weekend with my parents – dad, mom, and sister Lisa – for impressionable DD to latch on to bad, bad habits. Funny, now. Horrifying and embarrassing, then.
Let me set the scene. The hubster and I left DD with my folks and sister for a few hours to do some sightseeing in San Francisco and when we returned, our little one had new favorite catchphrases. “Shit, shit, shit” and “Owie, owie, owie, you hurt me.” 😕
Seems both mom and Lisa got embroiled in a competition about who hurt the most when they stumbled in the backyard while playing with DD. Neither one was actually hurt, but because everything ailment-related morphed into a competition for them, our hearty little one found herself confronted with grown-ups wrestling and wailing on the grass because they’d gotten tangled up in a clothesline. Mom blamed Lisa and Lisa, in turn, blamed mom for their mishap that was truly more hilarious than hurtful. How do I know? My dad was nearby and saw mom and Lisa in a brawl, with DD standing by, wide-eyed, taking it all in while sucking on a popsicle.
Mom screamed, “Shit, shit, shit” to Lisa – mad because her clean laundry got into the fray and was all over the yard. Lisa countered with an infantile wail of, “Owie, owie, owie – you hurt me”. (Mind you, Lisa was about 37 when this happened, but given her developmental disabilities she was forever an 8-year-old in a grown-up wrapper and reacted accordingly, especially when she was under stress.)
Dear daughter? She watched from a comfy perch on a lawn chair, as dad roared in, along with neighbors. Everyone wanted to see the spectacle, given the high decibel scream fest between mom and Lisa. Robbery in progress? Home invasion? Intruder? Yes, the police were called, courtesy of ever-anxious and nosy neighbor, Eleanor. It wasn’t the last time I needed to contextualize a sideshow family drama for our daughter, but I think it was the first biggie. You know, Officer Friendly and all.
For my parenting friends out there…whether you’ve got a toddler now or can remember those days…same for the aunts, uncles and grandparents, tell me this is NOT true: Once a verbal tyke gets a humdinger of a new phrase locked and loaded, it’s like a permanent implant.
No, you cannot scream “Owie, owie, owie, you hurt me” just for fun…it’s not funny…and same for “shit”. Especially when repeated three times. Bad words. NO and No. DD was smarter than the average bear, then and now, but the more we tried to rid her of the new vocabulary, the more she delighted in screaming each phrase…like a rhythmic chant…for the better part of a four-hour flight home the next day.
At first the ‘shit, shit, shit’ routine was just annoying to the people seated around us but when DD launched into the ‘owie’ song, all eyes were on us…especially the ‘you hurt me’ part. The more we shushed and walked her up and down the aisle, trying to calm her, the bigger the audience. Add overtired into the mix and the crying and thrashing that resulted? I’m sure it DID appear that we were torturing our young-un.
Still, it’s a fun, ‘crack me up’ memory. Theatrics and meltdowns and learning to ignore the bystanders. Keep calm and parent on…and when you can, take the time to look back and chuckle.
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