Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Circle of Life

It's been an interesting couple of days around here. Anna must be on some kind of growing brain cells kick, because she has been chugging milk like nobody's business, and homegirl's vocabulary has skyrocketed. I think we're getting a sneak peek as to what the next couple of years are going to look like - Anna exploring and acting curious and shouting random words, and Mike and I attempting to keep her under control.

There have been at least four different instances this week that have led me to think, "I am the worst mother on the face of the planet", and it's only Wednesday.

For the second time this summer, a nice little family of robins has decided to build a home on our front porch. This time, it's in one of our hanging flower baskets, which is why I stopped watering them and let them die - I didn't want to disrupt nature. (Not because I'm lazy, okay? Okay??) Lucky for us, there is a perfect view of the nest from the living room, and we've been having a lot of fun watching the babies eat worms and grow and flap their wings. Coincidentally, one of Anna's new favorite words is "birdie", so it all works out.

On Sunday night, though, Anna walked up to the picture window and this is what Mike and I hear: "Uh oh, birdie. Uh oh, birdie. Uh oh!" I get a little closer to inspect, and laying on the porch is a dead bird. Not one of the babies, luckily, but some other poor feathered friend who flew into the window not realizing it was glass. Mike and I quickly tell Anna that the birdie has gone "night night", she seems to accept it, and we shuffle her off to bed, with every intention of removing the "sleeping" bird before she can see it again.

But as you can probably imagine, we both forget about the bird. The next morning, however, Anna has not, and while I'm making coffee and trying to wake up, she toddles immediately over to the window, presses her face to the glass, and starts crying. And not like she bumped her head or is upset about getting a toy taken away, but like she's truly sad and scared. I know, logically, that she can't possibly know about death or understand what actually has happened to the bird, but she definitely could tell that something was wrong - and I definitely felt like I failed her as a mother. Of course she will experience sadness and witness awful things and have her heart broken, but there's plenty of time for all of that.

A few hours later, as I was flipping through my latest issue of Us Weekly doing some really important stuff at the kitchen table, I look over to see Anna, naked, holding her diaper in one hand, and pointing to the floor with the other. "Ew, Mama. Ew. Ew!" Sure enough, my child (most likely because she was so traumatized about the bird, right?) pulled her diaper off and plopped her poop onto the floor. Later in the evening, as I am cooking dinner and having a belated catch-up session with my bestie Amy in Virginia, I catch a glimpse of Anna - and her face is covered in green. "No biggie," I think. "It's marker. It's washable. I can deal." Until this morning, when I am changing her diaper and discover that she has clearly ingested an entire jumbo crayon. No wonder she didn't seem too interested in her dinner.

And as a final notch in my "Parenting Fail" belt, this morning I discovered Anna gnawing on a tampon. Don't worry, it was clean - she somehow ripped open the packaging to get it out - but probably not high on the list of the things you want to see your child put in her mouth.

Perhaps the last three events were all in response to the first, and we have scarred Anna for life and I need to send her to therapy immediately. Or maybe she's fine, and just being a toddler, and I should get used to this. In any case, to make up for the past couple of days, I think Anna and I are going to spend the afternoon cuddling on the couch watching a movie, because everyone knows that televisions and Disney cartoons are definitely main chapters in the Good Parenting Handbook. Besides, Anna needs a little lesson on the circle of life. And I need a break.

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