i just didn’t know

Contact low.Friday! Here’s hoping we get on our standby flights tomorrow and get to lil’ brother’s wedding reception on-time. Root for us, K? Thanks.

Blog; let’s go.

It was my turn to put Keaton to bed the other night, the first time in a while since I’ve been out of town. The bedtime ritual involves 1) the brushing of teeth, 2) the using of the potty one last time, 3) the washing of hands and face, and 4) the removal of our daytime clothes (remembering to put them in the hamper) and the donning of pajamas. Past that it’s time to lay down in bed, say a prayer, maybe sing a song or talk for minute about the day, and then it’s kiss-and-a-hug and off to sleep.

We began in the bathroom. Keaton brushed her teeth well, and then sat down to use the potty. Afterward she climbed back up on her stool and put some soap on her hands. Turning on the water, she wet her hands and began rubbing them together, soaping them to a froth. Smiling, she looked up and me and began to sing, “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Tyler! No… no… wait…,” she started over, “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Grammy…” I smiled back at her, thinking she was just remembering that we had called Grammy earlier that evening to actually sing to her for her birthday, and she continued with her song.

As she got past the “… dear Grammy” part I began telling her, “OK Keaton, go ahead and rinse now.” At my urging, she became noticeably frustrated, stopping her singing to stammer something like, “No! That’s not the way we do it!” Thinking this just another manifestation of her three year-old OCD, I again asked her to go ahead and rinse. By that time, however, she’d restarted her birthday song all over again. Now I was getting frustrated because she wasn’t listening to me, and I changed my tone a bit. “Keaton,” I said somewhat firmly, “I asked you to rinse please. You’ve been washing long enough.”

With tears in her eyes, and the most pained and frustrated look on her face she once again turned to me and squeaked something like, “That’s not how we do it!! I’m not finished!” Confusingly, she almost seemed torn or conflicted. Once again I figured she was just frustrated that I wasn’t letting here complete what I saw as just another bedtime-delaying tactic – a favorite thing of hers. Standing firm, I repeated myself, noting that I wouldn’t be repeating myself again. “Please rinse Keaton, I’m not going to ask you again and I want you to listen.”

Broken, and now fully in tears, she obliged me, quit singing and rinsed her hands. After drying them, she ran out into the living room where Sharaun was watching TV. “What’s wrong baby?,” asked Sharaun. And that’s when I found out what all the fuss was about. Her head buried in Sharaun’s lap, she said tearfully, “Daddy wouldn’t let me sing ‘happy birthday’ while I washed my hands.” “Oh,” said Sharaun, “He wouldn’t? Maybe daddy doesn’t know about the birthday song while we wash our hands.” I perked up.

“Oh, is that a thing, or something?,” I asked. Sharaun replied, “Yeah; we sing the ‘happy birthday’ song while we wash our hands to be sure we have enough time to get all the germs off.” Keaton looked up at me through puffy eyes and snuffled a satisfied sniff as if to say, “Duh dad.”

I don’t know why, but when I realized that I’d forced her to do the opposite of something Sharaun had schooled her to do, I felt pointedly terrible. Now I understood the conflicted look on her face and the frustrated tears. She wanted to listen to me, but she was doing what mommy taught her to do. How could she do right by the both of us? No wonder she was upset; I’d have been confused too. What’s worse, I’d been stern with her when she was only trying to do what she thought we want her to do. It’s a tiny thing, I know, but it made me feel terrible. No really, I almost wanted to cry for putting her between a rock and a hard place.

I knelt down and held her arms so she was in front of me and I could look at her. “I’m sorry Keaton,” I said. “Daddy didn’t know. I didn’t know you sing the ‘happy birthday’ song while you wash your hands to make sure all the germs are gone. That’s a really good idea, and I’m glad I learned about it. We’ll do it next time OK? I’m sorry I made you stop singing and rinse before you could finish. I won’t do it again. Will you forgive me?”

And with a big hug she said, “It’s OK daddy. You just didn’t know.”

Goodnight folks. Talk to you next week from sunny Florida.

Oh, and, I do believe it hit another week wall-t0-wall. Go!

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2 Replies to “i just didn’t know”

  1. She is so adorable. You did a good job with the apology too. I can just imagine how frustrating that was for her and it probably made her feel so much better to know that she was helping you learn something. It scares the hell out of me to think that Lily isn’t too far away from that stage, but hearing stories like this really makes me look forward to that time too.

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