One of the perks of writing — and I guess parenting — is that I get to be right so much of the time, or imagine that I am. School dropoff is time for the adults to share war stories, and these don’t tend to paint our little dears in a great light. They’re headed to class, unable to rebut our stories. They’ve got reading journals, we’ve got email. For now, the power is not equal.
But when I arrived with my sullen daughter at school today I had to admit, this morning’s brouhaha could have been avoided.
Yes, I was up a bit late getting school ready: Book report diorama, soccer outfits, PE-day shoes. I filled in a zillion tiny raffle tickets, generously purchased by grandparents and aunts, kicking in enough per kid so they’d qualify for the first-level prize.
Yes, my daughter woke up grumpy, and when she saw that with these raffle tickets she will only win a flashlight (and not the 20 other fabulous prizes for selling more and more and more tickets), she kind of lost it.
So I was justified to point out that as far as I could tell she’d sold exactly 6 tickets, to her aunt, while I sold (or bought) the rest of them. But I should have left it at that.
Instead, when she came downstairs, supposedly ready for school, I couldn’t stop myself.
“Can you finish brushing your hair sweetie?” I asked. My voice may not have been sweet.
“I did brush my hair. For 15 minutes!”
“Hm, then it just looks tangly on the sides? Can you test it with a brush? Here.”
“No! I brushed it! I brushed it!”
“Will you please try, or do you want me to try?”
This is a familiar battle, and while the goal of having my child reasonably groomed and not completely feral isn’t crazy, it’s also true that I have a hair thing, when it comes to my daughter. The boys with long hair are allowed to come to class looking like Grizzly Adams. On a bad hair day. Is it fair to impose a stricter level on her? My husband has had to intercede somewhat frequently on hair matters. He sees, when I cannot, how sometimes my need to present the world a perfect, cheerful face gets put onto our daughter. I know! I have agreed to chill a bit on this topic (though I never signed anything).
I’m supposed to let good enough be good enough. But this morning, I didn’t manage it.
Anyone could have predicted her meltdown, and while I’d love to chalk it up to my grumpy kids, this one’s on me. This was not a fight I needed to fight. Can I please learn this lesson already?