Have you ever had a child so completely exhausted that they’re unreasonable far beyond the measures you would have otherwise imagined at three years old?
So completely fudrucked out of their minds, running on empty, that the only thing that makes any sense to him, whatsoever, is to strip down entirely naked, be wrapped up in his sleeping bag (ZIPPED! ZIP IT UP RIGHT NOW!), and be spoon-fed applesauce in place of dinner?
You have to use your calm voice that sounds like really intense screaming at a whisper under your breath. The same voice you hear in the grocery store when a mom with a kid in her cart that will. not. sit. down. and she uses her serious voice to let them know they have just one more chance to make it out of that store alive.
And while you’re secretly sipping adult beverages on a beach where no one in the entire world can get ahold of you in your happy place, you’re dodging the scrambled eggs being thrown at your face and the applesauce being painted into your hair. On a good hair day. During it all you scoop and serve and smile. You pat his head and explain to him that although things look really calm, this is not acceptable behavior. And when he’s able to hold his shit together this conversation will continue.
He uses those baby blue eyes to look up at you, somehow manages to stop breathing fire and says “I love you, mom” and before the spell works on you – you agree! He’s done with dinner. You lift the entire apparatus up and out of his chair making sure you have a hold on his arms, not his legs or anything more sensitive, as you carry him up the stairs and begin the countdown to Battle Zone Bathroom: It’s time to brush his teeth.
Which you will do, damn it, even though tonight would be a perfectly acceptable evening not to – this has gotten personal: the toothbrush fight, and letting it slip one night will mean you start from ground fucking zero tomorrow – and ground zero? Is death-cab parenting.
Your calm/rage voice coaches him through his bathroom break and then without warning you stick that toothbrush IN HIS MOUTH, wriggle, and count to 10. Really fast. Wipe his mouth, his tears. DO YOUR HAPPY DANCE.
Pick that kid up, inside of that insane and completely impulse purchase of a sleeping bag (that you’re cursing right about now), and you lay him in his bed.
His cheeks are glistening from his emotional breakdown over To Zip or Not To Zip and he cannot remember how he got here – so you look down at him, kiss his forehead and whisper “I love your brave heart. I love your wonderful mind. I love your gentle hands. I love you, Oliver. Good night.” And you tip toe out of his room because somewhere between Brave and Wonderful – he fell asleep and the last thing he remembers is his mom tucking him in, singing his praises, and loving him to pieces.
Tomorrow we do it all again only this time? We’ll take naps.