Memorial Day was a scorcher and Todd and I really wanted to stay home in the air conditioning and just sink onto the couch in front of a movie. Instead, we took our darling daughter to the park because we know how much she loves being outdoors. We spent a few hours on the swings, skipping rocks into the lake, kicking the soccer ball around, and helping a lost child find her mother. We topped the day off by giving her a Dora the Explorer ice cream bar from the ice cream man. I don't know why I expected Liv to be grateful. I guess it's that stubborn part of my parental brain that only wants to see good in my child, that is resistant to the idea that my little girl has the demonstrable capacity to be an asshole.
"It's time to go now," Todd told Liv as we were walking back to the car. She was finishing up her little treat and her face was all covered in sticky, congealed ice cream residue.
"NOOOOO!" And this she screamed at a decibel most likely heard by the Expedition 20 crew at the International Space Station. Or maybe they weren't even there yet. In any case, somebody in outerspace heard her monstrous, defiant wail.
"Sweetheart, we had a fun day but we have to go home now." This I said in the kindest, calmest voice I could muster at that moment.
"You ruined my day, you...you...bad mommy, you...you stupid bitch." And suddenly all eyes are upon us. Every adult, teenager and child standing within earshot were just staring unabashedly at the lovely little domestic scene transpiring in front of them.
Here's the thing. There was nothing I could have done in that situation that would have been right. If I reacted sternly to my child for talking to me with such utter disrespect then I would have proved myself to be the mean mommy that Liv was accusing me of being. If I ignored her behavior, then I would be the mother who doesn't discipline her child. Truth be told, if I had ever said those words to my parents growing up I wouldn't be alive right now to tell the tale. Lord knows, I got beatings for a lot less than that. Or should I say "beatin's"? For some reason, when you add the "g" it sounds so much more severe.
So, you want to know how I did respond? I probably did the worse thing I could have done. I laughed. Because hearing Liv say, "You stupid bitch" in such a menacing way was one of the funniest things I had heard in a really long time. And sometimes you have to laugh, if only to keep from crying. Liv ended up throwing herself down onto the dirt and had herself a precious little temper tantrum. I think my laughter may have angered her even more. Todd had to carry her kicking and screaming to the car because she refused to come with "bad mommy" of her own accord. When he was carrying her she kept screaming at me to "go away" and not walk next to them. I think she even yelled something about not wanting to see my "stupid face". Of course, I talked to her later about it and explained why it's "not nice" to use bad words and how it's "disrespectful" to talk to mommy in that way. I'm pretty sure she rolled her eyes. She's three years old, people. Three. It's pretty safe to say I'm fucked. So what would you have done in that situation? I know you wouldn't have laughed. I never said I was good at this parenting shit.