Saying Sorry

It’s been a bit of a couple of weeks here, it’s fair to say. Busy, stressful, expensive, tiring, and not tons of fun. But we are muddling through as best we can. One foot in front of the other and all that.

It’s also been cold. Rainy, a lot of the time, and today we got a light dusting of snow. It persisted throughout the day, for the first time this fall, and although we got a bit to stay on the grass and rooftops, it’s mostly just melting.

The wet weather has made the schoolyard at Stinkerbelle’s school fairly muddy, and twice this week so far she has come home all muddy and wet from playing in the mud. 

It’s a challenge for me, this part. A lot of parents will say, “That’s what kids do”, and they don’t get fussed with their kids getting dirty. But I am not one of those parents. I can’t relate to that mindset.

I was not really allowed to get dirty as a child. I don’t recall this ever actually being said to me; it was just an expectation that I understood was the rule. It was just not done. We were expected to be clean and presentable, to look clean and presentable, at all times. We did not have a lot of money to spend on clothes, or to continually be doing laundry, and so it was just expected we stay clean.

And so, nowadays, when money is tight-ish, I am also pretty aware of the cost of clothes and the cost of using appliances and such, so my first reaction is also to try to keep That Girl clean and presentable. Within reason, obviously; I know my childhood was not the most normal, and I know how not letting a kid get dirty nowadays is frowned upon by other parents. But it is who I am and sometimes it just slips out.

Today, with Stinkerbelle, we started with yet another cycle of therapy: Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, to help her with the oral motor issues she’s had since infancy. I don’t begrudge her the need to go to therapy one tiny bit, but it is getting to be quite costly to do therapy, and we are finding more and more month at the end of the money as time goes on. It’s important, and so we do it for her, but it can be a struggle financially.

So it plays on my mind a bit. Moreso on days like today when we did our initial consult and it cost plenty.

I dropped her off at school, but as I mentioned, the snow that was falling was persistent, and so I took a few minutes to run back home and get her some snow pants. I took them in to her and helped her get her kit on for recess. And as she went out, I told her the snow would make the yard muddy, and I reminded her once again to please stay out of the mud. And off she went, happily, to play.

When I went to get her at the end of the day, it was very cold and damp. I was chilled through. All the kids were coming out in their winter gear, or most of them, anyway.

And then out came Stinkerbelle, in her winter jacket and boots. She was not wearing snow pants or a hat or mittens. And, in fact, she was not even wearing the clothes I had sent her to school in that morning. She was carrying a sweater and two plastic bags in hand.

She saw me, and burst into tears. She does this when she thinks she will be in trouble or if she thinks she will meet with some disapproval.

She knows me well.

Apparently, despite talking about it for several days, AND despite me asking her once again today to please stay out of the mud, she went out at recess to “play in the snow”. The plastic bag she was carrying contained her snow pants, hat and mittens, wet to the point of sopping, and covered in mud. Also, it contained her school clothes, as she was apparently soaked right down to her underwear.

How she managed to get her HAT covered in mud, I do not even want to know. But I was quite cross, although I tried to be cheerful and keep it under wraps because I know so many parents would disapprove of my, well, disapproval.

Stinkerbelle, meanwhile, knowing she had done what I had asked her not to and that I would not be pleased, began to wail. And she wailed, all the way home. The entire walk, she wailed. And it was freezing cold, and she had no hat and no mitts and no snow pants.

It was a miserable walk home.

I was not happy. I rushed her home, because she was wearing very little of any warmth and it was quite cold and damp. I rushed her home, because I was tired of commenting parents. I rushed her home, because I was frustrated and feeling cross at the prospect of doing a load of laundry in the middle of the day when it would be expensive, not to mention the thought that the lovely clothes she was wearing would be ruined by mud stains if I didn’t wash them soonish.

And I felt bad, because I know many parents would just laugh it off and everything would be fine. I am not that parent, and I cannot. I am the product of a fairly dysfunctional childhood, to be sure, but it is who I am. And if I am completely honest, I don’t necessarily think I’m too far off base on this particular issue, but again, most other parents would disagree.

But then I look at my poor sobbing daughter, apologizing for what amounts to going outside and joyfully playing in the irresistible snowfall, and I know I am wrong. I am the product of some punishing upbringing, and I am seeing it being visited upon my beautiful child.

My child, who stood at the fridge by herself, trying to sound out and spell the words to make things better:

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I broke down and cried and apologized.

I love you too, Stinkerbelle. And I am sorry.For so much. You deserve so much better than I was able to give you today.

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