Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Today I got a phone call from the school... I hate it when I see that name on my call display. My heart always skips a beat and I try to answer with a calm sound in my voice. The secretary at our school is an angel. She has experience with my kind. "Hello, it's Bonnie calling...It's not an emergency." Bless her heart. Those are always the first words out of her mouth. I have never asked her but she must be a mother. I breathe again. She was calling to tell me that my big girl had a bathroom accident. She needed me to come with a change of clothes. My mind raced. Why? Why now? My girl with a bladder of steel. She potty trained at 2 and a half, in one weekend and we never looked back. So far I have only changed the sheets in the night because of vomit, never pee. We have had a handful of very minor accidents at home but that is it. I babbled something about how surprised I was and tried to form a coherent thought. She made it clear that my girl was standing in the office waiting for me. Right... "get moving" my brain said to my body. I looked down at the sleeping baby in my arms. Nappus Interuptus once again. I ran up to grab a new set of clothes. Funny what went through my head. "Must find something as similar as possible to what she was wearing", "What will I say to her?", "How did the other kids or her teacher react?" It is only now that I replay this process that I can see my big/little girl standing in that office, one shoe sloshing with pee, being offered a jelly bean, the seconds ticking by while I am looking for just the right clothes. I ran out the door with babe on my hip and a bag full of clothes. Sped to the school and ran in the door to find her standing there shivering with the cold and the wet of it all. Lately she has seemed so big to me. She is the big sister, the grade oner, the six year old... But today when I saw her standing there as I stood in that doorway, catching my breath... she seemed so small. So fragile. So... vulnerable. It is my job to protect her and I want to do that so completely.
We walked to the bathroom. I hadn't anticipated that she would be shuffling so awkwardly with that shoe full of pee. I was surprised at just how wet she was. I crouched down to look her in the eyes. I needed to see into her and find out how she really felt. I tried to be lighthearted about it but not just blow it off. I could see my reflection becoming more clear in her eyes as the tears began to pool. Her lip beginning that twisted downward curl of utter disappointment in herself. This is what I signed up for. The messy, scary, challenging trenches of parenting a school age child. I face it all as squarely as I can but I had no idea that my heart would lead and then ache so much in the process. I held her and she whimpered that she was scared. Scared seems right to me. I'm scared.... shitless sometimes. I realized that I couldn't help her out of her wet clothes and clean her up with a babe in my arms so I ran back to the office and handed the slobbering 5 month old off to that secretary. She willingly swept her up in her arms (I do think that woman needs a bouquet of flowers). When I got back to the bathroom I was able to get to the business of it. She told me more of what happened and that she was cold. She told me about the offer of a jelly bean and her polite refusal. She told me which friends helped her. She told me there had been a puddle and they had to call the custodian. Each detail making her seem more vulnerable. We quickly got her changed and while doing so she asked me if she could go home. There was only an hour left of school, I wanted nothing more than to take her home but I wanted her to decide what she needed, so I hadn't offered. I was glad she asked. When we headed for her classroom the other kids were just getting ready to go out for recess. So I asked if she wanted to join them before we headed home. I wanted her to go home feeling better about her day. It looked like business as usual on the playground.
And that was just one of the things I did today...