jeanhee
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April 15, 2007

guilt

Tonight I crept quietly into Chiara’s bedroom while she was sleeping just to get a look at her and listen to her breathing. She was sleeping perpendicular to the length of her bed, as usual, pressed up against the headboard. She sleeps in the strangest positions!

I never risk disturbing her sleep. But tonight I was feeling really guilty about our evening together so I wanted to be close to her.

Earlier this evening, I took Chiara out for a walk with my mom, who came into the city despite the heavy rains because, she told me on the phone, I have to see Chiara, my baby. I have told her a million times that actually, Chiara is not her baby, but her grandbaby and indeed, *I* am her baby. But to no avail. I have given up.

Chiara hadn’t napped at all today (a frequent state of affairs when Halmoni comes to visit), so she was showing signs of real fatigue during our not-so-short walk. I was thinking she’d go to sleep easily once we got home.

Instead, Chiara was fussy. She wanted to climb the stairs, any stairs, all stairs, no matter where or how impatient I was. She refused to come into the apartment, preferring to climb, yes, the stairs, again. I tried my trick of entering the apartment and staying out of sight until she followed after me but this time it didn’t work and what’s worse, I think she could have been hurt. she climbed three of the marble and terrazzo steps herself, and then lost one of her shoes so was reaching down for it when I swooped over to make sure she didn’t fall.

While I was feeding her, she was also hyper, insisting on being taken out of her chair, then crying to be put back in it. I was going nuts. But i was also trying to relax by reading a magazine in between feeding Chiara mouthfuls of her dinner. So the straw that finally broke my back was when she demanded I put her on the floor, again, and then asked for a cup of water. She took one small sip of water and then turned the cup over with an insoucient little flick of her wrist, dousing the wood floors.

What bothered me most? It was that little flick of the wrist, which was basically telegraphing, Hello Mommy, stop reading that magazine. I am the boss of you! Ha!

So, after yelling, NO! I went and grabbed a towel, handed it to Chiara and said, Chiara, you clean this mess.

She looked at me with such a perplexed expression. I was genuinely angry and she was not sure what to make of it. She finally sat down (yes, in the puddle she created), and wiped a few splashes. Then I pointed out some larger puddles and she looked at me again, with that same perplexed expression, as though she were asking why I was insisting on this charade of bossing her around. Hadn’t she already shown me she was boss?

I pointed out yet another large puddle but she would have none of it. She threw the wet towel at me! I tossed it back on her already-wet lap! She threw it back, yelling, No! And I returned it again, saying, When you make a mess, you have to clean it up!

What was there to do at this point? I cleaned up the very little dampness remaining (Chiara actually had done a pretty good job). And then got her ready for her bath and for bed.

Once we were quietly slowing down in her bedroom the flashes of anger from earlier in the evening began to bother me. Was it because I was feeling guilty for being so tough with her or was she genuinely being a little wary of me? I wasn’t sure but I felt like clearing the air. So, I held Chiara in my lap and told her I loved her and that even though I sometimes get angry at her behavior I will always love her.

Chiara seemed to understand, or maybe she was just responding to being cuddled. She gave me a few kisses and fell asleep pretty easily, as her nights go.

jeanhee @ 10:03 pm