Ever think how your sweet-faced angel could be nothing short of perfection? That’s what every parent thinks until they are not. The other night, after a day of rushing, working, caring, and cooking (and all the other in-betweens), we finally make it to the bedtime routine. To say I was exhausted is an understatement, but I chose to move past the desire to collapse into sleep, pushing myself to fulfill my nightly promise of reading TWO stories to my sweet little girl. Of course, nothing upsets a toddler more than being told it is bedtime; meanwhile, I would pay someone to get uninterrupted hours of sleep. I am used to the whining, the rolling of the eyes and the sassy attitude; all of which came hand-in-hand with year 4. What I was not prepared for was the words that followed…
“Mami, I wish you were dead.”
While every single cell in me wanted to react, to retaliate, to check her and point out one simple, yet crucial, fact… I had birthed her. Instead, I paused and allowed my brain to process. Now, I do not know if it was the fact that I was so tired and was just too slow to react, but in retrospect, I feel it was definitely an “aha” parenting moment I am proud of. I took a moment to think about what she said and concluded that the idea of death was something too complex for her to understand. I mean, adults struggle with it, how would my 4 year old get it. I realized that this talk of death arose from the fact that our family dog had just died. Death was definitely top of mind. I knew I had to put things into perspective though.
I looked at Sofia and simply asked, “do you know what you are saying to me?” My question threw her off. She just stared at me with far too sleepy eyes, a little shaken by being put on the spot. I went on to explain that if I died, I would not be able to take care of her and her baby sister. If I died she would never be able to see me again. I asked her who would take care of her, feed her, cuddle with her, dress her and the million and one other things I do for her. I told her she had hurt my feelings because I love her so much and the idea of never seeing her again and being able to hold her made me feel so sad. She had hurt my heart and the idea of having done so really moved her. Tears rolled down her cheek as she whispered “I’m sorry.” She told me she loved me so much and she did not want to hurt my feelings. Something definitely clicked.
I think about the daily grind and the amount of work parents put in and how much emphasis we put on getting it right. Apart from the many things being thrown our way, the last thing you want is to feel like your little one is turning into a “not so nice” person but I beg that when you come across instances such as this one, that you take a step back and process it all. So many times our little ones have no idea what they are saying and in order to raise decent human beings, it is so important to talk, to explain; to have them understand what they are saying and find ways in which to better express their frustrations and feelings. I know the responsibility of another life is quite the job to carry out and sometimes you feel totally unappreciated but keep trekking through the parenthood hike, while it might be trying at times, it’s definitely a remarkable journey of “aha” moments.