Slow Down

There I was, checking my email this afternoon, for the first time in 4 hours… which, if you’re like me is an inordinately long period of time without at least scanning the inbox.

*heaaaavy sigh from the kidlet*

“What’s up, Buttercup?” (where her nickname comes from, by the way…)
“I’m sad. There’s no mommies around to play with me…” she said in that heartbreakingly forlorn way.
“No mommies? What am I?”
“Well, you could play with me I guess.”
“You just said there were no mommies to play with — and I’m pretty sure I’m a mommy. Does that mean I can’t play with you?”
“No… it means you’re more than my Mommy — you’re my friend. Let’s play!” she said, as she launched herself in my general direction.

I suppose it’s a sign of security that she had such blind faith that I would and could stop her 33lb self from plummeting to the floor at gravity’s insistent beckoning — especially given that jumping isn’t her strong suit and she was a good 2 feet short of getting there on her own.
Ahhh parabolic trajectories and analytical calculus — not the native domain of preschoolers.

I grabbed my girl and managed to keep her from *ker-thumping* face first into the floor by means of the Mommy bear-hug… and we collapsed into the easy chair laughing.

“Hey,” I said, “I know… would you like to help me bake some pink cupcakes?”

Like she’d say no.

So we adjourned to the kitchen, where there was measuring, pouring, mixing, etc.
Baking. It’s just a sneaky way of getting science in early, you know.

Fast-forward to the part where the cupcakes come out of the oven, but the 9″ round cake needs a few more minutes. I remove the perfectly brown (yet somehow still pink) cupcakes from the oven and put them on top of the stove. I rest the oven-mitts on the side nearest the sides little hands might get to and admonish my child to ‘stay away from there until they cool.’

This isn’t the first time we’ve done this. She knows the routine. Cupcakes come out — cool on the stove-top — then the messy frosting application commences.

As Alton Brown says, cake is simply a frosting delivery system. Buttercup subscribes whole-heartedly to this theory as well.

So I took a minute, since I figured I had about 8 before the remaining cake had to come out… and I ducked into the bathroom, thinking my child busily occupied with her toys. (You do know which direction this is headed, don’t you?)

Just moments after I had entered the ‘Room of Rest’ but had yet to complete my entire errand there… the door swung open suddenly to reveal my dog and my daughter — both very excited — and said daughter had upon her hands (and most of her arms) the very same oven-mitts I had left upon the oven ‘guarding’ the still scalding hot muffin pan.

“Look Mommy! Now I will bake for you! What do you want? Purple cupcakes?”

At this point, both Buttercup’s first and middle names came out of my mouth in the most shocked, disappointed, concerned, and yeah, pissed off of GeekMommy tones.

That’s all it took.

You could see the gears turning as her little brain calculated the use of two names, the tone of voice, the realization that on her hands were the tell-tale signs that she had really messed up… Her face fell. Her hands fell. Her voice quivered with the beginnings of some attempt to temporize her way out of this…

But c’mon – what 4 1/2 year old can temporize her way out of anything? 4 1/2 year olds are only really good at rationalizing themselves into something.

I cut her off — I said “please go put the oven mitts back where you found them. Now.”

She headed to the kitchen as fast as her little feet could carry her and put them right back — and then, as I was coming around the corner into the kitchen (having washed up and all) she looked up, saw me, and burst into tears.

Now, if this were most kids, I would assume that this was the ‘hmmm… how am I going to get out of punishment here’ ploy of crying for sympathy. But not my kiddo, that’s not how she’s wired and I already know that.

She was heartbroken. She was devastated. She wasn’t thinking about being in trouble or getting out of it. She was wrapped up in something else entirely and it started her little body shaking and heaving with heart-wrenching sobs.

I swooped my girl up and cuddled her over to the sofa… trying to bring her back down enough to get words out of her.

“What’s up with the tears Buttercup? Why are you crying? I know you didn’t burn yourself or you would’ve yelled first, so what’s the cause of all these tears?” I asked.

“I don’t want to be little any more — I want to be an a-a-aaa-dult just like you-hoo-oooo-oo! *sob* I want to bake for you all by myself. I don’t wanna not touch the oven-mitts. I wanna be grown up NOOOOooowwwwWW!”

See? Told you it wasn’t about getting in trouble.

I cuddled her closer.

“Oh honey… please don’t grow up yet!! I want you to be little for a little while longer…”
“Noooooooooo!!! I wanna be big now!!” she wailed.
“Sweetie, if you were bigger, I couldn’t cuddle you close like this. Someday, you will be grown up – and you will be able to do all the things you want to do now then, but you won’t be able to do all the things then that you do now. You won’t be able sit in my lap and let me kiss your tears away… You’ll get big enough soon enough, but for now, be my little girl?”

Three deep breaths. And then the sobbing resumed — at twice the volume and insistency.

“Mommy!!! I don’t wanna grow up. I wanna cuddle with you foreh-eh-everrrrr! Don’t let me grow up! Please? Please??!!”

More hugs and more kisses later, we agreed that she could wait a bit, and we’d both be okay with that.

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~ by Lucretia on October 20, 2007.

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