Ordinary Hysteria

There are times when, as a parent, hysteria reigns. You don’t know whether to laugh or to cry, but either way, it’s hysterical.

Julianna is giving us quite a few of those lately.

On Saturday night, Alex and Nicholas were sharing the bathtub. Julianna was waiting her turn, not so patiently, as witness: While I knelt at the far end of the hallway folding laundry, there came an earth-shattering shriek from Alex: “Mommeeeeeeee! Mommeeeeeee!!!! Come quick, come quick!” (Giggle giggle.) “Mommeeeeee! Julianna’s trying to put Sparkly Bear in the tub!”

By the time I arrived, it was far too late. Sparkly Bear, who is a super-soft green St. Patty’s day bear with little sparkles in his fur, was saturated. While Alex giggled uncontrollably, I squeezed and squeezed, and water poured back into the tub. I could already tell that Sparkly Bear would never look the same again. Julianna looked at me with utmost self-satisfaction and held out her hands for her favorite stuffed animal. “Euh?” she said.

“Oh, no,” I said, “you aren’t sleeping with Sparkly Bear tonight. Or probably for the next several nights!”

By Monday night he was only mildly damp, so Christian put Sparkly Bear in bed with our giddy-happy little girl. So this morning, Julianna began her morning ablutions with a visit to the potty chair. Then, having done her business, she came out to beg for praise. “Good girl!” Christian said. “Now go wake Alex up.”

So Julianna obligingly trotted across the hall and began banging on Alex’s back, saying, “Euh! Euh!” But Alex is almost the soundest sleeper in the house (second only to his daddy), so soon she gave up on him and decided to pick up Jack instead.

Now, Jack is Alex’s doll, a Christmas gift that he adores and sleeps with every night. Jack has to have his clothes changed and his booties on before bed. (We don’t know whether to think this is scary or adorable.) Julianna thinks Jack is pretty cool, too, and since Alex was asleep he wasn’t there to howl if she played with him. So off she trotted with him. Straight to the bathroom. Straight to put him “on” (read that: in) the toilet. The next thing I knew, I heard Christian shouting, “No, Julianna! NO, STOP! Awww, crap! 

Sometimes I want to wail hysterically, especially considering what she’s doing to her brother’s prized possession, and what his reaction is likely to be. And yet it’s wonderful to see her personifying an inanimate object—such a big developmental step. Huge. She wants to put dollies and animals in Nicholas’s chair, in strollers, in bathtubs, on toilets…it’s a sign that she’s generalizing big concepts. And that is a very good thing.

So more often, we laugh. A lot.

And that is a very good thing, too.

I think.

Unless she starts playing to her audience.

And that would NOT be a good thing.

(Linked to Moms’ 30-Minute Blog Challenge and Tuesdays Unwrapped.)