Annie the Moth, Long May You Live

Posted: March 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Kate's Friends, Miss Kate, Preschool | 1 Comment »

We went to a poorly-attended reading fair at Kate’s school on Saturday, the highlight of which was chatting with another set of parents who we admire for their sense of humor about their adventures in parenting.

You never know when a gathering of parents will suddenly turn into a group therapy sesh. And we always welcome a good dose of we’re-not-alone-in-this.

At one other school event the dad had a group of men howling as he recounted a scenario where their son–who they were convinced would be the last un-potty-trained preschooler on Earth–had an epic public melter because the image on his pull-up diaper was the red vehicle from Cars, not the yellow one. On the drive home, Mark slapped the steering wheel smiling and said, “Okay, so Kate’s hellish sock freak-outs? Hooray! We’re not the only ones losing our minds!”

And by the pancakes-cooked-in-the-shape-of-letters booth this weekend, the mom talked to Mark about the kinds of arguments she finds herself getting into with her son. She and her husband recently hammered at the fact that that one million IS in fact more than one hundred until they were each busting neck veins. Yet their son continued to state that he was right. They were wrong.

They’d also had a conversation about left and right, she said, which ended with her bellowing “I AM 42-YEARS-OLD AND I KNOW MY LEFT AND RIGHT, thank you very much!”

Mark savors every morsel of these stories–as do I when he relays them–because, God knows, we’ve been there. Of course, you’re intellectually aware you’re A) speaking to a young child, and B) are in fact correct. But there’s still some mind-imploding I’m-the-adult-and-YOU’RE-supposed-to-learn-from-ME-kid fury that can suddenly devour all rationality when your glib, self-assured child persistently informs you as Kate did yesterday, “Cherries grow in the ground. I know it, Mama. NOT on trees.”

And it’s not that our friend’s son or our daughter are particularly difficult, pugnacious, or contrarian kids. It’s that they’re three. Or more specifically, as we read and learn more about these mysterious wee ones, it’s that they’re three-and-a-half.

My friend Megan has a wise mantra she whispers between clenched teeth at times. “This is age-appropriate behavior… This is age-appropriate behavior…” It’s the kind of saying that relieves you of the conviction that your child has been sent from Satan to torture your days on Earth, and helps you realize that all kids their age have been given that same satanic directive.

Plus the mantra gives you a beat to pull yourself together before calling the adoption agency.

Although she’s too big for it now, Kate still likes taking her trike out for a spin sometimes. And I happened to notice when she hauled it onto the sidewalk this weekend that there was a moth in its basket. A long-deceased moth.

One which instantly became the center of Kate’s obssessive need-to-nurture universe.

“A moth, Mama! A moth! I want to pick it up. I am sooooo gentle.”

“It is my moth! Hello moth. Jonah can’t touch it.”

“My moth’s name is Annie. Can we get a bug house for it?”

“I need to put something inside it for it to eat!”

“A flower! Here is a pretty flower for Annie. Hello, Annie! And here are some leaves for her to munch munch munch.”

“Can you write ‘This is Kate’s moth’ on the top of the jar, Dada?”

“Her name is Sally.”

“Shhh. Sally is sleeping in my room. Her name is Frank, you know.”

Intermittently when Kate brought up Annie/Sally/Frank’s state of hunger or sleepiness, Mark and I gently reminded her that the moth wasn’t alive any more–death being a concept she’s appeared to grock in the past. She could still have the moth and play with it, but it wasn’t alive; wasn’t going to fly away.

But in her Kate way, she’s just tuned us out, resolved in her certainty of life versus death. Preferring instead to putter about with her jar, yammering on, “When Grandma comes, she will like to meet you! Now you’ll have your rest time, okay?”

Sometimes when I can step outside of my wild insistence on the facts being the facts–or moreover me being right and Kate being wrong–my cold little heart temporarily comes around to seeing things Kate’s way. And I wonder what’s so wrong with one hundred being more than one million, just for a day.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Annie the Moth, Long May You Live”

  1. 1 Becca said at 6:15 pm on March 10th, 2009:

    As I sit gazing at Leo, wanting to eat him with a small spoon, I realize why this stage of childhood is so very powerful and consuming… it is so you won’t kill them at 3 and a half. Close, but not quite. I sometimes whisper to Leo “Too bad I will want to throttle you someday too, so sad…”

Leave a Reply