Don’t open a bottle of soda after it’s dropped out of the fridge.
Leave your toy purse in the car; it will make it easier to climb the rock wall on the playground.
They’re the sort of mistakes you have to make once, twice, three times before you catch yourself.
But as parents, we’ve all made them. And watching my daughter make them herself is giving me a nervous tic.
“Noooooo, dooooon’t!” The words are right, but they come out in that deep distorted slow motion reserved for silly action movies.
And so the bottle is opened, the carbonation fizzled all over her shirt, her pants, her sneakers.
She doesn’t, as a rule, get soda. So there have been just a handful of chances to learn this lesson.
And let me remind you, she is 4. She isn’t supposed to know this sort of thing yet.
As she isn’t supposed to know headbands are a bad choice for a day when the wind is blowing, and she’ll be doing a lot of climbing up and down the playground equipment.
Isn’t supposed to have the willpower necessary to leave a new treasure in the car lest she be forced to carry it everywhere for the end of the day.
And so it’s my job to let mistakes be made under my own watchful eyes, to encourage one way, then clean up the mess when she invariably ignores the encouragement.
And it’s driving me nuts.
It’s making me itch to throw the toy back into the car to protect my ears from an afternoon’s worth of “it’s toooooo heavy.” It’s making me yearn to grab the seltzer bottle firmly in my own hands and rush it over to the sink for a de-fizzling to protect my knees from five minutes spent on the floor, rag in hand, cleaning up the mess.
It’s making me remember when I shot milk out my nose, burned my tongue on the too-hot cookie and stepped on my first thistle with bare feet.
When did I learn to swallow first, wait a few more seconds, throw on a pair of flip flops?
When my parents were letting me cart my new treasure out of the car, open riled up bottles of seltzer and wear my headbands on a windy day.
So that’s where they got that tic . . .
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