I have been a bit of a powder keg lately. Oh, I typically put on a good show out and about, but even lately that has been collapsing. It is not the best season to be ridiculously depressed. Everyone, all the time, asks very brightly: how are you? Or even worse they make some reference to some dreaded words: 'merry' or 'happy.' The other day a coworker asked how everything was going and I unloaded. Ten minutes of uncomfortable, vitriol spewing while they kept backing away and glancing around for an exit. I had a feeling if there had been a trash shoot they would have hurled themselves down it. I made a joke about it, because that's what I do, but the damage was done. I'm quite certain next time they see me walking towards them down the hall they would rather fake a seizure than interact with me.
Thus came an opportunity to be a complete jerk to my darling six-year-old daughter, which sadly I took. Another thing that had primed me for this event was a recent conversation I had with a teacher friend who was chatting about how excited she was to finally be able to say 'Merry Christmas' this year at the school. I had vaguely paid attention to how the supreme court had decided people could say those previously forbidden words, but I hadn't considered that they actually hadn't been able to say it. When my friend was discussing this topic she mentioned off-handedly how others had been able to say things like 'Happy Kwanzaa' while she had been unable to say 'Merry Christmas.' I hadn't even realized the seed that was planted. Somewhere in the recesses of my stressed out and highly emotional mind I had filed 'Kwanzaa' under 'bad.'
So when I came home and saw a project Kaiya had done at school that was a little paper woven together with green and red paper strips and the word 'Kwanzaa' in the center that she had carefully colored each letter in different colors making it look like a rainbow pattern. Without thinking I grabbed up the decorated paper, crumpled it up in a ball, and was about to throw it in the trash when Kaiya came around the corner. 'What are you doing?' She cried, and her face was all scrunched up in pain as she watched as the ball of paper she had worked on sailed through the air into the trash can.
I would love to say I snapped out of it right then, that I fished it out of the trash and asked her to tell me about it, but sadly I am too stubborn for that. All night long I fought myself and it wasn't until the morning that I sat down with a big slice of humble pie and dove in. Licked the plate even.
Fishing the paper out of the trash I ironed it out flat again. Then I went and sat by her side as I gently woke her up. Showing her the paper I said I was sorry and asked her to tell me about it.
Tiredly she muttered that I could just throw it away again, but I assured her that it was important. That she had worked hard on it and her mommy was being a nitwit, and could she please tell me what she learned about it? Brightening up she chirped out in her sweet angelic voice that it was about doing eight things to help people and then she looked up to the ceiling to try and search for what they were. Pulling her into a hug, while I vaguely made a mental note to one day Wikipedia Kwanzaa so I wouldn't be such an uninformed daft idiot, I whispered I loved her into the dark room and she burrowed in deep into my arms and said she loved me back. Thank God her father is the one who stays home with her, for he is the patient, encouraging parent these dear children need. And I'm going to work on not being a bull in a china shop around their fragile little egos.