Sometimes full days with children are really trying, and sometimes things just fall into place, and you wonder how your angels could ever possibly give you a hard time when oh my GOD they are just so precious.
I was flitting around with Sassy all day, doing errands, having fun, and sometimes she just...sparkles. She has this sing-songy voice, uses words like "wonderful" and "terrific" to describe how she's feeling or how her breakfast is. Her lilting voice melts my heart, and she's like a delicious little walking slice of happiness.
I was seeking comfort today, being so cold and brittle outside, so I popped a pan of brownies in and started making a cappuccino. I'd let the dog out so I asked Sassy to let her back in as I was steaming my milk, a delicate process, as you can imagine.
"Okay, Mommy! That would be a big help, wouldn't it? If I let Scoutie in the house? I'll do it right...NOW, okay, Mommy?" Hops off her kitchen chair, skips over to the door, and starts calling her beloved pooch.
So I'm steaming the milk, humming along with the Indigo Girls, and she's getting increasingly...squeal-y, and I thought she was excitedly calling the dog. Then through the hissing of the coffee machine, I hear the words, "....my ballllLLLOOOOOONNNNNNNNNN'S FLOATING AWAY!!!!!!!!"
She runs to the front window and I get there just in time to see her balloon being pommelled by the brute force of the wind, blown across our busy road, and lodge itself in a tree across the street.
Her outburst at that moment can best be described as gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking. The sob welled up from deep in her belly, tears, literally shooting out of her eyes, she threw herself in my arms and wept the cry of the grief-stricken.
Her balloon. Her heart-shaped birthday Disney Princess balloon that had been kicking around the house for the last month, still played with, still loved, still cherished, despite the fact that it had lost most of its helium and all of its balloony-ness. Her balloon was gone, and not only was it ripped from her hands, she helplessly stood by and witnessed its cruel captor take it away, and trap it in a place where she could see it. Taunting her. So close, yet so far.
She collapsed in my arms, and sobbed. And sobbed. Every so often, she would lift her head and forlornly moan, "Bawwoon. My bawwooooooon....it's over dere, across the stweet...my bawwwwooooonnnnn......."
I calmed. I comforted. I may have wept one or two tears myself, in sympathy for her sadness. Then, to her rescue, came Captain Picklepants. He came up behind us, and with a barely detectable lump in his throat, said, "If my balloon flew away like that, I'd be sad too, Sassy." And joined us for a hug party.
Then he lit up with an idea and ran into the other room. Needing only a little assistance from me, my boy, my daughter's hero-of-the-moment, blew up a latex balloon and tied it with a pink ribbon. We drew a face on it and bopped it back and forth for awhile, until she was laughing again.
"Thank you, C.P. Thank you so much for making me feel so, so better. I'm not sad anymore!"
It also helped that I served a big bowl of warm brownie and vanilla ice cream. Every child-rearing book in the world rails against using food as comfort or reward. But she's gotta learn sometime...a fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie and some melty ice cream on top really does make you feel better, even if it's just for a minute. How else will she learn the meaning of comfort food? Otherwise she might think it's food that lends itself to physical comfort, like prunes or whole grains. Life lessons start now.
Except for the one about tough breaks. You know, losing something and having to deal with loss, even if it hurts? Parents not offering instant gratification, thereby placing too much importance on frivolous objects of impermanence?
Not at three years old. At three years old, I will ask her Daddy to bring home a new balloon, heart-shaped, with Disney Princesses on it, and one for her other hero, Captain Picklepants. He cheered her up when she needed it most, so he deserves one too. Tough-luck lessons will start next time.
After all, how many times in your life do you get a chance to mend your child's broken heart? If I can, I will, dammit.
Then I'll figure out a way to free the trapped balloon across the street, dangling and shredded mess that it is. That's just the height of cruelty, staring her in the face.