We had a mood last night.
Actually, the honeymoon of the whole back-to-school-after-the-holidays-thing is officially over. That happened this morning. But that’s another story involving another Bad Mom situation: The debate over whether to allow the 5 and 7 year olds to drink their Carnation Instant Breakfast from a sippy cup. I’m sure I’ve already done permanent damage both physical and psychological (and I’m just talking about my husband) so I’ll let that one be its own blog post, someday. Maybe.
Back to last night. Sophie was exhausted. She napped on Monday but not on Tuesday and by 6, the day had caught up with her — and then some. Actually, she hit her second wind (third? fourth? fourteenth?) when I got home, but there was a fly in her ointment.
Annabelle and I had run into Deborah and Anna at aftercare, and decided it would be a swell idea to throw an impromptu dinner party, if you can call Safeway meatloaf and soup served on my all-but-covered-with-crap dining table any sort of a party.
Truth be told, Deborah and I have made parties out of far less. I always feel guilty, because she’s so groovy (e.g., the not-matching-but-went-together leopard coat and gloves she wore on a Tuesday night) but she is always gracious about my mess, both specific and cosmic.
That’s a real friend.
Usually, Sophie and Deborah are fast friends, but last night Sophie would have none of it. “STOP TALKING!” she kept telling Deborah, as we tried to catch up on holiday gossip and work news. All Sophie wanted to do was cuddle in peace, her chicken nuggets long ago gobbled, her eyes starting to flag. And she wanted to do it without background noise. (And I know what Ray will say, and he’s right. Too much going on. Should have had a quiet night. But really, this was one — and you should have seen how happy Annabelle and Anna were to see one another….)
“She’s jealous,” I whispered over the top of Sophie’s head, carrying her off to bed. Even on a tired night, bed is a multi-layered ritual. This night, Anna was called in to choose the pajamas. (The “Sleepy Head” shirt and ballerina pants.) Sophie chose the diaper (Cookie Monster, of course), brushed her teeth, peed.
Deborah and I continued to chat quietly through all of it, and Sophie seemed more focused on her stuffed Piglet, til — as I was pulling her PJ shirt over her head — she looked up at me and quietly said, “You’re stupid.”
I snapped to.
“DID YOU JUST CALL ME STUPID?” I asked in a quiet but all-caps kind of voice.
“Yes,” came the tiny reply.
Sophie knows better. For a while, years ago, she’d get really hot and heavy with her current insult (for several months it was “YOU’RE MEAN!” usually directed at strangers in the mall who made the mistake of being in her general vicinity) but I’ve noticed she’s catching on faster these days.
Still, she has a hard time parting with “stupid,” mainly because she knows it really gets to us. Often, she aims it at Annabelle, who always cries.
We’ve had some big, huge time outs over it. For obvious reasons.
“OK, Sophie, you know we don’t call people stupid.” I paused. “At least, not to their faces.”
Deborah had to stand in the doorway, out of sight, shaking with laughter. I tried not to smile.
“You know, Sophie,” I said, “someday you might just understand the irony of calling people stupid.”
“Oh, I think she gets that now,” Deborah said. I’m sure she’s right.
Sophie is anything but stupid, and yet she faces a lifetime of the label — both to her face and behind her back. I grapple with the word. Not when it comes to my kids; they’re simply not to use it. But as I recounted the story to my mother today, I explained that there’s actually a whole movement — one I’m not so sure I like, given my desire to let people use the words they want to use, except for certain ones like “retarded” when it’s not a medical term, though that’s yet another blog, I suppose — against using words like stupid and idiot.
“And moron,” I added. “So what are we supposed to call people?”
We moved on to “nerd” and “dork” and the notion that those are now compliments. Never did answer the question.
In any case, I’ll schedule our next play date with Anna and Deborah for a time when Sophie’s a little better rested.
And maybe we should just call people by their names.