My daughter was grumpy today. That weary, ‘I’ve been too many places, seen too many things’ tired that makes her pucker her face and say I don’t want to do that, eat that, move there, walk. She glares at me when I tell her she must brush her teeth and glowers when I mention combing her hair.
This morning I didn’t want to leave the house. It was one more thing to compound on the already over-exhausted little girl dragging her feet though the halls of my house like some kind of haunting specter. Her sunken shadowy eyes add to this image. Still, we have a prearranged play date, isn’t it always, and it’s just a playground, fresh air, sunshine, surely they will do her good.
In the car I glance back at her through the rear view mirror and she stares back stoically. This is not my smiley baby. Parking the car, I expect her to jump out, run for the climbing equipment she calls the ‘chimpanzee cage’. She barely moves, flip flops slapping the ground with each slow step she takes.
Two hours more of this half version of herself and I call it a day. We are finally done, no more torture. I force a nap on her, she is gone in seconds. When she awakes I rock her in my arms and whisper that she is wonderful and special and mine.
This is what I know about my children, they get tired, bone to the core spent. And when that happens they don’t function well. I don’t just mean in the scholastic sense, that their vocabulary drops by so many points, that they don’t perform their maths at top form. I mean in every sense. Emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually they deteriorate.
I watch their little selves suffer. They can’t express themselves. They cry for reasons that normally would make them shrug. They are hungry, not hungry. They want to play with their friends but can’t get along with their friends. It’s painful to watch. The emotions we as adults hide behind fake smiles and polite banter come out alternately as tantrums and surliness.
I have to find a cure or at least a band aid for this issue. The only thing I’ve found so far is not overtaxing my daughter. I knew why she was acting this way today, had been acting this way since yesterday. It has been one thing after another all week. Usually we have loads of downtime but this week it’s been nonstop ‘fun’. Play dates and classes and pop in visits from neighbor girls. And every one of those things was ok, there was no reason not to at the time. But there was a slow accumulation that lead to total meltdown.
So this week we will take breaks, starting with today’s nap. Tomorrow there will be plenty of one on one time and her and her brother time. We will focus on the quality of time spent doing things that are entertaining as opposed to the quantity, try explaining that to a five year old who loves seeing her friends everyday. I will make sure she sleeps plenty, drinks water, eats healthful foods. Yes, I will be super mom. I’m going to go take a nap first.