Only child, 2-ish.
Toaster-beds are easy to identify; you tuck the kid in, they pop back out. You tuck them back in again, they pop right back out again. At the end of a long day, this can be anything but a delightful exercise of their new-found freedom.
One evening, our daughter’s toaster-bed was in fine working order.
First, she came downstairs because she was thirsty. I got her some water.
Then, she was hot. Her mom helped her change PJs.
Next, it was the bathroom – can’t really argue with that one.
Then the cat was bothering her. Although, judging by the cat rocketing through the living room, clearly the opposite was true.
Then, she came down the steps to tell us that she was cold. Her mom helped her change PJs.
Next, it was the bathroom again.
Finally, she came down to complain loudly that our stupid house was too hot. My patience poofed into thin air. I picked her up and gave her a personal escort back to her room. Along the way, she decided that she didn’t want to change after all and started playing you-can’t-catch-me.
She was wrong. I did catch her and attempted to change her PJs.
She wriggled and twisted and kicked and fought and then shouted that she wanted her mom to change her PJs. She emphasized this by yanking the PJs out of my hand and throwing them across her room, knocking some things off her dresser – including a lamp.
I grabbed her by the shoulders, looked her in the eyes, and said something brilliant at the top of my lungs like, “Whatever!” She stood stunned, silenced by my volume, and crying. I stormed out of the room and her mom came in to finish what I couldn’t. In all the confusion, the toaster-bed must have come unplugged because she finally went to sleep.
Sometime during the night, I felt a soft tugging on my sleeve. I opened my eyes. Her tiny face was directly in front of mine, at the edge of the mattress, chin propped up on her folded arms.
Before I could speak, she said, “Sorry I got mad at you, dad.” She patted me gently on the head and ran off to bed.
I felt like a dirt crumb.
The next day, I got a small piece of paper out and wrote on it; “Sorry I got mad at you, dad.”
I taped her words to the inside of my wallet to help remind me that, when it comes to kids, I’ve got a lot to learn.
Sorry – got to go. More later.