I come from a long line of pasty people. You know, people with skin so white that it glows a little blue, skin so white that you can see right through it to the veins. If there is even a hint of pink, say a little sun, or fever, or diaper rash, it screams at you – look at me, I’m red! There’s absolutely no denying it. It must be noticed.
When Josie was a baby, I was shocked when the sitter pointed out that Josie had a fierce diaper rash. Really? When I looked closer, yes, indeed, there were little red bumps but because her skin is darker, I had to actually look for them.
So I consider it a promising sign for my development as a mother when I notice the red blotches on Josie’s cheeks as we’re headed to my favorite Christmas party of the year. (Sorry to all you other favorite parties but this one is really tops.) I put down the bags of gifts and toys and touch her forehead. Damn. I take her temperature – 100.8. Double damn. She’s been fine all day. Well, actually, the previous night she stayed with Grandma and Grandpa and when my mother told me that Josie sat in her lap for a whole 30 minute movie, my first reaction was to ask if she was sick, because sitting is not something my child does.
I couldn’t argue with a fever so I call my friend and cancel. Then I go to my room and bawl my eyes out.
At the grocery store the next morning Josie has a screaming fit because I will only let her have an orange (which she eats) and not a banana, too. These days when she doesn’t get what she wants she hits. Actually, it’s more like a swipe than a hit. I can’t push the cart or even really go near it because she’s screaming and clawing and even though I’m meticulous about keeping her nails short for precisely this reason, it hurts when she gets you. I should be horrified by this scene she’s making but I’m just glad we’re at our neighborhood co-op. They know us here.
Let me take a moment to tell you how much I love my grocery store. While I was in the checkout line a different day Josie threw a tub of hummus on the floor and shattered its plastic bottom. Then she bit into a block of cheese right through the wrapping. (She really likes cheese.) When I got up to the counter I pushed the cart into the middle of the aisle so she couldn’t reach anything. I mentioned to the checker that she was really on fire that day. He said something like, seems like she’s on fire every day. But he wasn’t criticizing or complaining or pointing out that my kid was ooc (out of control). He gave me a sympathetic, knowing look that said – its okay my friend, we understand. This is why I love them. Oh, and because they have the absolute best rotisserie chicken in the world.
Finally, we’re done at the store. I’m buckling her into the car seat when she swipes at me again. I hold her hands and get down in her face and look her right in the eye like I’m training a puppy. I tell her it’s up to her whether we have a good day or a bad day. My rules will not change, I tell her, you can follow them and we’ll have a fun day or you can continue to hit me and we’ll have to sit at home and not have any fun at all. What will it be?
I know this sounds a bit advanced for a two year old but desperate times, people, desperate times… She gives me a kiss. We’re the only ones at the park. She chases me. I chase her. She goes on the swing even though it’s wet. It’s a good day.
She’s in bed early that night but keeps waking up coughing. I rock her. It’s almost 10:00 and she’s draped over my shoulder when she throws up. Sorry, this is the part I apologize for telling you. I pull her blanket up and put in front of her mouth just in case. She swallows. Eeew! I run to the kitchen and grab the magnet that unlocks our supposed-to-be-so-easy-to-unlock-but-are-actually-impossible-to-unlock childproof cabinets. I fumble. If I can just find the exact right spot then maybe I can get it open and grab the plastic bowl (why I didn’t just lean her over the sink, I do not know). And then she lets loose. I duck, dropping my shoulder. It flies across the kitchen and lands on the floor. Again. I have the bowl now and place it directly in front of her mouth. Finally it is contained. Poor girl. When she’s done she seems confused and surprised and relieved. She doesn’t cry.
She’s started this recently – not crying when she really really should. Like last time we went to the doctor. She got a shot in each thigh and she hardly even whimpered.
I ask Josie if she feels better after throwing up and she says “yeth” with a sharp nod like the little soldier that she is. Yep, that’s my kid. She’ll claw at you, throw the hummus on the floor to see what happens and bite right through the plastic to get to the block of cheese. She’s fighting for something. I don’t know what. Maybe she wants unlimited free produce for everyone or cheese for the masses. I do not know what her cause is or will be, but I do know that she is passionate; she insists that her voice is heard. And I hope this is a rule that does not ever change.