If you know me at all in real life, you may have heard me express out loud (one or two million times) my aggravation with people who compare their dogs with children. It is no coincidence that the people who do this generally do not have actual children-I understand, yes, there is a great bond between a dog with whom you have lived and loved for many years and yourself. However, I will say here what I have often said to these “dog-moms” when they say “I have no kids…but I have two chihuahuas that are JUST like my babies.”
If I left my daughter out in the yard all day with a bowl of water while I went to work, I would go to jail. If my daughter crapped on the floor and I rubbed her nose in it, that would be child abuse. And if I put my kid on a leash for a walk down the block…Wait. People actually DO that, don’t they? My GOD, that is creepy.
That being said, I have to tell you that. maybe I should have looked into dog ownership before I became a mom. Because this shit is hard. Last night, I had to take my oldest girl to the hospital because she had the WORST bloody nose I have EVER seen in my entire life. Why? Hmm…I am not sure whether to laugh or cry about this. The reason she had a bloody nose is because, in the midst of a heated argument about why I had decided not to buy her a new $250.00 smartphone, she got so upset and frustrated with me that words utterly failed her and she tried to blow a snot rocket at me.
I am not kidding you. I am trying to figure out how to explain to you what would have happened to me had I ever tried such a thing with my mother. All I can come up with is this- I probably would not be sitting here writing this right now as I would have suffered a horrible young death. If my mom hadn’t killed me, she certainly would have beat my ass. God, however, works in mysterious ways, and he must have known that this child needed a little shaking up, so he intervened on my behalf.
I have this new tactic that seems not to work very well, but having so few tools in my parenting arsenal, I do the best I can with what little I have. The tactic I am referring to here is what you might call “Calm and Detached.”. I figure it is better than getting down on her level and flipping completely out- except that, when I do this, it seems to make her even more insane. I’m not going to lie, there’s a small, awful part of me that enjoys seeing her buttons get pushed the way she ALWAYS pushes mine. So I was busy being calm and detached when the above mentioned snot-rocket was launched and all hell broke loose. I didn’t even look up from the magazine I was (pretending) reading.
“Mom! MOM! My nose is bleeding!”
“That’s what you get.” I told her.
“MOM! What’s HAPPENING!!??” Okay, so the level of panic in my usually not panicky kid did strike a chord in me as I glanced over. And HOLY SHIT.
I have never, ever in my life seen blood shoot out of someones nose like that. Trust me, should you ever see blood pumping out of your child’s face, leaving puddles on the floor, you pretty much forget about whatever stupid thing they did to cause it twelve seconds earlier. I tried to stay calm, I really did. It didn’t work, though. I sort of remember yelling at Devon to “CALL 911!”, being mad when he refused, throwing Aisley in the car and rushing off to the hospital. She had blood on her shoes, her pants and her sweatshirt. She had blood covering her hands, her neck and her face. On the way there, she said “Mom, maybe you should drive faster, because I am really scared.” So I did. She’s really not a kid who gets too worried about much-not like me, who will go into blind panic. She stays pretty level headed about these things. On the way there, she started crying. I drove a little faster, still.
It takes about ten minutes to get from my house to the hospital, and by the time we drove into the parking lot, the bleeding had slowed down a lot. We thought about going home, but she said “Maybe my brain is bleeding- we should probably just go in.” And though I doubted it very much, there was a teensey part of me that thought “Well, you never know.”, so we went in.
I’m glad we did. For one, I needed the peace of mind that she was really okay, and so did she. Secondly, it was pretty hilarious making my tearful and blood covered child admit to the doctor exactly how she came to be in this sorry state. (“can I put this in the dictation?” he asked. “Oh, absolutely”, I replied, delighted.) But most importantly of all, because, weird as it sounds, I think we BOTH needed a little fear to shake us out of this funk we have been in. We’ve been living together with this hostility between us for so long, I think we’ve just gotten used to it. Seeing her so frightened and upset reminded me that whatever else is going on, she is still my little girl. I would die, I mean, seriously, I could not go on, if anything were to happen to her.
We came home in much better spirits. She cleaned herself up and actually made her sister a bottle. I could count on no hands the number of time that has happened.Earlier that night, as we sat in the waiting room, I had put my arm around her and tried to pull her close. I tried to tell her that I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. I could feel her resistance, and see how afraid she was, and I understood that we have turned a corner somewhere along the way- one where I can’t fix everything, nor can I make her feel safer by pretending that it’s true.
But I can tell you this- I would certainly try. No matter what else is going on in this crazy busy life of mine, if one of my kids needed me, I would be there, period. If all I can do is sit beside them and hold their hands, you better believe I will be sitting there, holding on. I may have to look real hard to see that child I love so much in that fourteen year old, but she is there. And I love her beyond reason. No matter how many snot rockets she’s got up her, er,…sleeve.