Today was one of those days where I felt like I need to be better. At things. Lots of things. But mostly at being a good person.
Two things happened today that made me feel the need to do better. The first occurred when I picked up Stinkerbelle from her carer’s house after work. When Stinkerbelle came down to get her gear on to head home for the day, her carer Fran told me about how That Girl and Fran’s little girl had gotten into trouble earlier today.
The two of them were in the bedroom, where they were supposed to be snuggled up watching a movie. Instead, they had gotten into a tub of Vick’s Vapo Rub and had been schmearing it all over their faces, in their hair, and on their clothes.
I reprimanded Stinkerbelle, not angrily, but sternly. She burst into heartfelt, apologetic sobs.
After a long, quiet ride home, during which I considered that Vick’s wasn’t harmful, nobody got hurt, and it was really kind of funny, I got on the computer and debriefed with BDH. He reminded me that Stinkerbelle is four and four year olds get into stuff, and it really was funny.
And I admit that much of my frustration stems from the fact that I am the one who has to deal with Stinkerbelle’s long, thick hair on a regular basis, so her having a head full of Vaseline just means that I have to put in two or three hours washing, combing, and restyling it, when I just did it two days ago. And that’s selfish.
And I admit that I am hard on my girl. I am strict and I expect her to behave herself and remember her manners and take turns and Do All Those Things. I see too many parents let too much slide and I am not going to let Stinkerbelle be one of those kids. And so I am hard on her.
But she really, really IS a very, very good girl 99% of the time, and I admit that I have to let up and let her be a kid and screw up like a normal kid in that 1% of the time. Or more, even.
And I let her down. On a day when she got into a mess AS KIDS WILL DO and had fun doing it, I could have just let it go and let her enjoy it. Instead, I left her sad and feeling fraught with shame and guilt for being A Bad Girl.
The second thing that made me feel I should be better was around dinnertime, when I heard the doorbell ring. I thought it was BDH, but when I got to the door there was a man on the porch. He was small-ish, and it was hard to tell how old he was. But he was polite, and introduced himself as Tyler, and said he was canvassing for the local addiction recovery charity. And he showed me his badge, his ID.
Now, because I am home alone with That Girl during the day, whenever I answer the door, I have gotten into the habit of sizing up whoever comes to the door, and noticing what they look like or what they’re wearing. You know, JUST IN CASE. So I kind of tuned out what this fellow was saying for a moment.
It’s really, really cold here today. Arse-freezing cold. Lots of blowing and drifting snow. Wind chill. And dude, this guy’s not wearing any gloves. He’s got a toque on, sure, but the jacket’s kind of a canvas-y style thing. But the hood’s up, so that’s good.
But his pants. Oh my dog, his pants — they’d been split at some point, and they’re sewn together with a random colour of yarn. He’s got pants held together by yarn. And no gloves.
And he’s as polite and as meek as possible, and I tuned back in when he said “and anything you guys can contribute would be appreciated. Even a dollar, that would be helpful.” And because I have learned not to trust anyone at the door, I made a lame excuse, and I turned him away. And he very politely and meekly thanked me, and left.
Now, BDH reminded me when he got home and I mentioned it to him, this could have been a scam. The guy could have been a scam artist. He could have been collecting just for himself. But I have a hard time believing that a scammer is going to come around dressed that poorly in such weather. And so what if he was collecting just for himself — the man’s got no gloves and he’s wearing clothes HELD TOGETHER WITH STRING.
And I couldn’t spare him a couple bucks.
I felt really badly about that, afterwards. I felt like I had let down my fellow man. I let down someone who might have needed a buck or two, or the organization he was doing charity work for on such a bitterly cold evening.
I let people down today. And in so doing, I let myself down.
I let myself down. I need to be better.
I can’t always help my fellow man — sometimes we just can’t afford the money or the effort or the time, I understand that. But sometimes we CAN, and I need to get better at maybe doing that.
And I can’t always be the perfect mom to my daughter. I can’t always be patient and calm and do the right thing and let her be. But sometimes I can, and I need to learn to do just that. I need to learn to be better for her, to be better to her, and to teach her by example to be better.
I need to learn to be better.