Last night, at bath time, T. was fussy. She's rarely fussy, even when she's at her most tired she tends to get punchy and silly, not fussy. But last night I bent over to shampoo her hair and she kicked her legs out in protest and caught me square in the face, soaking me with water.
I was a little mad. Well, really kind of mad.
Mama then became some kind of swooping alter-mama figure, all crazy-haired and glittery-eyed and angry.
"Why did you DO THAT?" I asked T., who stared, horrified at what she'd done. But then, saucy girl that she is, she stuck her lip out and kicked again, splashing me one more time.
"That's IT!" I roared. "No stories tonight!"
And I stalked off, to finish ironing my clothes, while T. weeped in the tub. It was not my finest hour; nor hers, either. And even thought I try not to take stories away as consequences, taking them away is truly the one thing that makes T. sit up and listen. Stories are sacred to her, and story time each night is one of the most important parts of her day. But as I ironed, and listened to T. splash around woefully in the tub, I thought about unfair expectations and double standards. I thought about how often T. is held accountable for her actions, and expected to act better and given more chores to do around the house (which she does gladly, happy to help out) while her brother can drop clothes willy nilly around him like leaves, eat only cereal for dinner, talk back, trash his bedroom, slam a door in our faces and we absorb it all, riding the current, taking those deep breaths and moving on.
And T., T. was just tired and cranky and we all have moments like that. Kicking water in your parent's face is certainly not acceptable behavior, but still, I'm sure growing up in our house can confuse a child from time to time--those double standards, you see, and unfair--or even fair--expectations can be hard to wrap your mind around.
I know, because I have trouble, too.