There are days when she’s angelic.
Then there are days when nothing is the way she decrees it should be, and she makes her annoyance known, loudly and clearly.
“This dress”, “no, this boots”, “no, my clips” “I do” “‘nother coat” she said yesterday morning.
We went for lunch, she spilled all the soup, everywhere. We came home. She spilled water. Lots. She emptied the lunchboxes onto the floor. She stole homework and drew on it. She was found eating butter with a spoon.
“Me stir it” she insists when I cook dinner.
“Me do it”. Over and over.
She drops a full box of eggs on to the ground. I sigh and wipe it up. Three eggs are salvaged.
My phone goes missing. She’s standing on a chair, holding it, pressing buttons and saying “hallo granny”.Her small brother wants to make a long-planned chocolate cake. He’s beating the eggs in a jug, she grabs for it and spills it everywhere. The boy is distraught. We find another (egg-free) recipe. She’s not allowed to stir. She protests. Loudly.
We eat dinner. She removes each piece of corn and every leaf of spinach and discards them on the floor, unknown to me until they’re all there.
I sigh. I struggle not to shout. I pick them up. I hold it together but look forward to work the following day.
She stands in her highchair demanding to get out. Then suggesting “dessert! Jelly! Rice puddin'”. We agree it’s a great idea and indulge.
She giggles. Her brothers sing and she takes her turn. It’s messy but perfect.
It’s bath time, she marches up the stairs, reminding me to put in the bubbles, rounding up brothers. She squeezes toothpaste all over the sink. Her small brother warns her not to splash too much but she laughs while soaking him.
She empties her drawers while searching for her chosen pyjamas. She runs away from the hairdryer until a brother sits on my knee and she dethrones him. She smells shiny and clean. She hugs.
We sit on the bed, the five of us chatting. We take silly selfies and there are squeals of laughter. Bedtime is announced and she plans her escape and rolls to get off the bed but keeps rolling.
The thud as she hits the ground freezes time.
We four rush to her assistance.
I lift her, there’s blood gushing. She doesn’t know what’s happened. Neither do I, she resists my attempts to find the source of the bleeding. She cries, and cries. She’s inconsolable.
Her brothers are scared, they’ve never seen her this upset. Daddy tends to them and brings them to their room.
I hold her. She’s rubbing her eyes, bleeding, crying. Scared and confused. I clean her, hold her, hug her. Daddy puts her hair out of her eyes.
Distraction doesn’t work, a drink declined, Peppa is refused. I fret, while trying to keep a calm exterior. She’s OK.
I hold her tight and reassure her. I give her her bunnies. She strokes them. I cuddle her close. Eventually, she calms. She’s OK.
She points to my pillow “bed”. “Stay”. We lie together. I watch her, her exhausted eyes show that she’s frightened. “Mammy’s here” I say. “Mammy will mind you”. She looks at me and I gaze back at her. “You’re OK”, I think.
She falls asleep and I don’t want to leave her, afraid she’ll wake and remember and get scared.
I stare at my toddler daughter, so independent, so full of devilment. I forgive her the misdemeanours of the day and will her to be ok.
She starts to snore and I leave her side to make lunches. We examine her before we sleep and decide it’s best to keep her close for the night.
She sleeps pretty well, better than we do. I wake to check on her. She rouses early, and I’m glad she’s up before I leave – instructing me to clean my teeth and voicing her annoyance as I depart.
She’s OK. No bones broken, no scars to be seen, just a fright.
I count my blessings and vow to be glad of the mischief next time.
Or to try my best to at least.