The girls have been playing this “what if” game lately.
Mom, what if all the power went out?
Then we would call the power company.
What if they couldn’t get it back on?
They would. They always do.
But what if they couldn’t??
Then I guess we’ll be stuck inside a J.J. Abrams show.
Mom, what if we get to the Easter egg hunt and I don’t get any eggs?
You will. There are lots of eggs.
But what if I don’t?
BUT WHAT IF I DON’T?
Grace will share some, I’m sure.
But what if she doesn’t get any?
She will. I’m telling you there are tons of eggs. All the kids get some.
But what if we don’t??????
They are mostly these innocent, yet aggravating, what-if scenarios. But tonight, it took a slightly darker turn.
After I told Claire that she wasn't in charge of Grace and didn’t make the rules for her, she said:
What if I am a grown-up and Grace stays a kid?
That won’t happen. She’ll grow with you.
But what if I do? Can I make her rules?
No. Even if that happened, I’d still be her Mom.
But what if you died? Then I could be her Mom and make the rules.
(Grace: I never want that to happen!)
Claire: I do.
Me: Claire!! You want me to die just so you can make the rules for Grace?
And then this look came over her face. You could tell she felt guilty. She kept looking at me and then looking back at the picture she was coloring.
Me: Claire, you don’t mean that, right?
A moment of silence.
Then she doubled down.
Claire: Yeah, I do.
Then my heart broke. I knew she didn’t really mean it. I KNEW THAT. But it didn’t change how it felt when she said it. For context, just yesterday I read this article about how much your kids change when they get to middle school and how the dynamic changes and how shunned you will feel. So, I was already a little vulnerable on the matter.
So, I just sat there, shocked at what she said and what I was feeling even though I KNEW she didn’t really mean it.
A few minutes later I called her into the other room and she immediately crawled into my lap and rested her head on my shoulder.
We just sat there like that for a couple of minutes before I said:
Claire, you really hurt my feelings when you said that.
She slowly looked up with her own heart-broken look. She knew she had hurt me. And she didn’t mean to. She just wanted to make Grace’s rules — my death in the matter was just a means to an end.
Did you mean what you said?
She shook her head furiously and hugged me tightly.
I know it won’t always be resolved that easily. I know she’ll say things she doesn’t mean. I know she’ll feel bad for saying them. And I know she’ll sometimes struggle to tell me that. But I also know that she loves me as much as I love her.
But I may need y’all to remind me of that when she hits her teenage years.