Last night, Shannon and I had a fight.
It started when she kicked her little sister in the head.
She didn't mean to, they were just on my bed goofing around.
But you know that sound, that sickening thud when something is hit?
You think to yourself, OH, that's gonna hurt.
When that thing is your baby's head, you freak out a little. At least I did.
And then she cried that cry, the one where you know they're really hurt, and not just whining?
I yelled at Shannon, even though she hadn't meant it.
My baby was crying, and I yelled "How could you do that to her?"
"It was an accident!", she screamed, before stomping out of the room.
Kylie knew that Shannon was upset, so she wrote her a card, in her little kindergarten writing.
It said, "Dear Shannon, I am ok. I know it was an accident." I helped her spell "accident."
Then she drew a picture on the front of two girls holding hands, and a heart.
She slid it under their bedroom door, where Shannon had holed herself up.
No reaction at all. She couldn't be bothered to look at the note.
I knocked at the door and I said, "Could you please just read the note your sister wrote?"
She yelled through the door, "I'm busy!"
It turns out she was busy painting her nails. On the carpet.
Their bedroom floor already looks like a clown exploded in there, with nail polish and makeup on the carpet.
Two weeks ago, I had the carpets cleaned, but they couldn't get out the colorful spots.
So she had found a nice clean spot of carpet to put green nail polish on.
And of course, she got some on the carpet.
I exploded at her.
"Are you retarded?", I yelled. "What would possess you to paint your nails ON THE CARPET?
When you know that it won't come out?"
She glared at me and said, "I guess I'm just stupid."
Of course this did not stop me, I continued to rant and rave.
No matter that this is a rental house, and the carpet is already 20 years old and trashed.
Really, what's one (or two) more green spots? But it makes me so mad when she just doesn't think.
I went into the bathroom where she was straightening her hair. Her face was streaked with tears.
"Why can't you just leave me alone?", she screamed. "I don't want to talk to you!"
And then I lectured her some more, when I should have just let her be. Because sometimes I am truly a bad mother.
And all the while she is crying and saying, "Just leave me alone!"
Yesterday after school, I bought her some brown hair dye. She's been asking for a while.
She dyed her hair black a couple of months ago, and didn't like it so much.
The brown dye worked fine, except for one thing.
Most of her hair is now a nice shade of brown again. Except...where her natural color was starting to come back in, at the roots? Is now a little bit...orange-ish. Not like Bozo orange, but definitely not a color you see in nature.
She was upset about it this morning, she said it looked stupid. It does look a little strange.
I tried to be helpful..."Why don't you wear that black and white knit hat? It's cold enough for a hat today."
It turns out, that hats of any kind are not allowed at school.
I told her that we could get some root touch-up after school.
"That doesn't help me for today!", she wailed.
It doesn't look that bad. But she is in 8th grade. Someone might tease her.
She's not an outcast at school, she's relatively popular. But someone still might tease her.
And she'll get over it. She will not be scarred for life by having orange roots for one day.
By this time, she was going to make her little sister late for school.
She was just sitting and staring in the mirror. And whining.
I had been calm all morning, but she was starting to make my blood boil again.
"Just get ready, we have to leave!", I yelled.
"I can't!", she screamed back. "It looks stupid!"
Stupid or not, you are not staying home from school because of your hair.
Finally out the door, dropping them off, right as the elementary school bell rang.
Home again, deep breath, exhale. Silence.
Move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Unload the dishwasher.
Sit down at the computer and do some work, for work. Four more days.
After a while, go upstairs to shower. Look at my unmade bed.
Looking at the bed, I remember how I got up at 4am to use the bathroom.
And when I got back into bed, I noticed I wasn't alone.
Shannon was in the bed with me, sound asleep.
When I told her this morning at 7am that it was time to get up, I said in a friendly tone,
"What are you doing in here?"
She replied, "I don't know. I don't remember coming in here."
I patted her leg and went to wake up Kylie. That was before the fight this morning.
Now, a few hours later, I go to make my bed.
I pull the covers up, and out flies the small baby blanket that Shannon has slept with since birth.
She still has it in her bed.
When she came into my bed last night, she brought it with her.
I pick it up, and hold it for a moment. I hold it to my face, breathing in her scent.
I hold it to my cheek as I walk to her bedroom to toss it back onto her bed.
And I dissolve into tears.