I’m angry with Kina tonight. If she were in my shoes, I’d hope that she’d say “I’m frustrated with Kina tonight”, but I’m angry, and that’s okay—I’ve laid the foundation for that with her, and so I have to accept that it’s true for me, too. Today’s top headline is something she said just yesterday, and it’s strange that I have to write a newsletter about it now, but also timely, maybe? Kina spent a good part of the evening just beating up on me—raging against bathtime, scratching my eyes, telling me she only likes Mommy, telling me in various ways that she doesn’t want me around. This, to be fair, is kind of normal for her—and I normally shrug it off—but it stings a little more today, and so I’m angry. How much have I done for this child, goes my internal monologue, I have wiped so much excrement off this child with my own hands, fed her food from my own plate, and lost countless days of sleep, it says, all because I love her so much—and this in return?
I know, because I read the books, that she has a very small and disinterested prefrontal cortex, and so has no impulse control. I know that she cannot regulate her emotions, nor compartmentalize her stress. I am aware—or I tell myself, at least—that she takes out her dissatisfaction with the world and its indignities on me because she knows it’s safe to do so (having already learned that the world does not respond to having its face scratched). I take pride in being the person she can take it out on. I have to, in any case. I do not, as it turns out, have to enjoy it.
For what it’s worth, I am also not great at compartmentalizing my stress (which either explains her behavior or suggests that I am an emotional toddler). Coming back to work today, after a trip that I think all parties involved desperately needed, was a bruiser, and I think I understand why Kina just wasn’t interested in getting back to the old routine; I wasn’t, either. And so we find ourselves engaged in a standoff, in which neither of us is interested in the other person’s bullshit and where each of us is mainly asking for just a little blessed acquiescence. We are cut from the same cloth, she and I—smooth on the outside but just a little scratchy on the inner face, and ragged at the edges on a humid day. A day like today was probably in the stars.
Was her statement to me yesterday a reminder? She’s been so good, lately, at apologizing—smoothing out the wrinkles after the fact. Is this some four-dimensional chess play, where she’s reaching out to future me to apologize before the storm? They always say “don’t go to bed angry”, and she didn’t; I made a quick show of bedtime, while Laurea tucked her in and gave her a long hug and a kiss. I know she still loves me, even though she’s mean, and I cannot help but love her desperately (though I am angry, which feels so odd). If I’m lucky, we have a whole long while to spend together—frustrated, at times, but loving throughout. And I am lucky, in a way, to get kicked by somebody I love so much.
You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.