The White Flag by Noreen Heffernan


Last night my 4 year old woke us up at 4 am for the 3rd night. She is having nightmares about the bad Muppet Kermit look-alike she saw in the Disney store from that new Muppet movie. His name is Constantine and he is ruining my comfy sleeps. Now, she is petrified at night. Awesome. And, to be honest, I am not the best 4am Mom. I’m horrible actually. Then, I woke my 2 ½ year old up for school early the next morning. Remember I am already cranky.

“I don’t want to wear pants.” -2 year old.

“Ok, I’ll hold the pants for now, but you have to put them on when we go outside. It’s chilly.” –me

“I don’t want to wear PANTS!!!!!!!!” – 2 year old

“Ok, I’ll hold them until it’s time to go.” – me

“No pants. Or socks!” – 2 year old.

And she says “pants” like she has British accent. Replace the ‘a’ with an ‘o.’ Ponts. “I don’t want to wear ponts.” I am not sure if it makes it funnier or more tragic.

So we go downstairs for breakfast and I try to turn the conversation more positive. She is eating her yogurt, spoonful by spoonful and I am smiling and chatting; trying. “I can’t believe you are going to be 3 years old in 3 months. What a big girl?!” She responds, “Be quiet Mom. No talking.” Fabulous.

Every day, everything is a struggle.

“OFF SOCKS!” “NO PONTS!” “I DON’T WANT DINNER! I WANT AN ICE POP. No talking. No singing. No laughing. I don’t want milk. I don’t want to go in the car. I don’t want to LEAVE!” -her

"Ummm, can we just be happy…EVER?” – me

Can we please just agree with something I ask or say? Can we make it a little easier so I don’t want to RUN FOR THE HILLS most days?! I always say that to my husband, “I’m going to run for the hills.” Did my Mom say that growing up? Where did I get that? Did I make it up or is it a saying? Like the chick in the Sound of Music. I cannot even remember her name right now and I honestly don’t care. I’m too busy trying to come down from my pants drama. Like her; singing among the rolling hills. Wouldn’t that be amazing right now? I want to be her in that moment. FREEDOM!

I saw a quote this morning on Facebook. “Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.” Why can I relate to that? I think it is actually bad that I am nodding my head in agreement and saying “YES! I GET IT!” Sometimes the battles with my 2 year old make me feel like I’m in the trenches; one explosion after another. BOOM! “Don’t look at me Mommy!” BOOM! “PICK ME UP NOW”

I’m exhausted from it…mentally. And then other times, I am laughing hysterically like a crazy person with her hair sticking up in every direction. NO PONTS. HAHAHAHAHA!! And other days, I find it sanely amusing. I see the humor in it and I don’t take it too seriously. But, to be honest, it is a crap shoot. The days that I do in fact laugh and see the humor are the ones that she screams, “NO LAUGHING!” And then she walks away mumbling something and I catch a word here and there. "...ponts….poopie….mommy….” Eyes crinkled, hands on her hips. You know the drill. You’ve seen it.

These kids are on a mission. What mission exactly, I’m not sure. I guess disagreeing with everything we say. That’s a start. Giving us a hard time. Exerting their independence by arguing with everything we are and everything we stand for and everything we are trying to accomplish.

They will not be happy until we are on the ground, face down, waving our white flag. “I give up. No ponts or socks today. Go freeze.” Today, I started waving the white flag, giving up. But, just as I started waving the flag, I sat down with my 2 ½ year old on the floor in the dining room as we waited for my friend to pick her up for school. I started singing the first song that came to my head. “Suddenly I see,” by KT Tunstall. It is one of my go-to songs. If you have been following me from “Growing Ladies,” you know that I love this song. I’ve written about it before. It is one of those all-encompassing songs and at that moment, it was absolutely the only song in my head.

“Her face is a map of the world, is a map of the world. You can see she’s a beautiful girl, she’s a beautiful girl. And everything around her is a silver pool of light…people who surround her feel the benefit of it, it makes you calm. She holds you captivated in her palm”

She sat quietly and listened and at times, hummed along. It calmed her. When I finished, I looked at her and tears were streaming down her face. STREAMING! She wiped them away. “Are you crying,” I asked? “Yes,” she responded. “Why,” I asked. “Because I want you,” she said. “I want you too,” I said back because it is all I could say. It is all I wanted to say. The fact that I could invoke such emotion in her from a song I sang completely and absolutely amazed me. It amazed me. I mean, she is 2. I’m telling you, it felt like my love and the words to that song brought her to tears. It erased everything bad or cranky, mean or grouchy. It erased everything and in its place painted new light and a day with possibilities.

“Suddenly I see. This is what I want to be.”

She put her pants on and then she realized she was leaving me and said, “I need a fruit snack,” in a classic case of erasing her pain with food.

Good parenting would not be feeding into it.

“Ok,” I said as I waved my white flag in a symbol of solidarity, “you can have your fruit snack. Enjoy my love.”

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies

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