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Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm Melting. In a Sea of Gold.

Big Sister threw a temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums today. The likes of which I can honestly, no exaggeration, say I've not seen in the near decade of my own child rearing and 39 years of living on this planet. At a new friend's house. For a sustained 15 minutes. Nearly 20. I know what you're thinking. I should have just left the play date. Yes, Smartie. I would have. If only I could have gotten Big Sister dressed. She was melting down while wearing only panties. And although I was mightily tempted to walk out the door with her just like that, I'm fairly certain that might have run me afoul of British authorities. And maybe even in a way that would have had my UK visa revoked. And where would we be then? Deported in our knickers, that's where.

Loyal readers know that I think making new friends in a new city is akin to dating. And you should know, too that underpants aren't called that but I keep confusing the terms and end up calling trousers panties or some such nonsense. Anyhow, in every language, today's hysterics were the equivalent of Big Sister melting down at the loudest volume you can imagine (No, much louder! For an endless 20 minutes) in front of my newest crush.

Fresh off a wonderful field trip to an art museum with her sweet class, I was excited that Big Sister and I were off to a quiet ladies' afternoon with new girlfriends. This never happens so nicely for us and it promised to be delightful. Baby Sister was home with a babysitter, a friend was going to deliver Biggest Brother home for me, and Big Brother was at an after school sports club. It should have been a perfect afternoon with 2 moms, a little brother who wasn't ours, and 2 sweet little girls. Only my girl went very, very sour.

My new girlfriend who was our hostess chaperoned the afternoon field trip, too. She and I had about 30 found minutes after the field trip before it was time to retrieve the girls after school.  So we ducked into a coffee shop, just us grown ups, and got to know each other a little better. It was a nice date. My lovely new friend is honestly just that. She is French and very dear. I know you'd really like her and want her to be your European friend, too. She left an exciting career when her first child was born because she'd so fallen in love with her baby that she couldn't imagine going back. Her plans changed on the fly and she's happy to be home with her little people. She likes breastfeeding. She supports her girlfriends with nannies who send their kids to fancy schools and a kazillion classes, but prefers a simple, close knit, less scheduled life for her own brood. We laughed about how often people ask us if we "have help" and how many ways we could answer that creatively! Down to earth. French me. Just really pretty and impeccably stylish. One of my girl crushes and one of the women to whom I'm grateful for making us feel so at home here.

But new friends or old, moms are moms. The good ones anyway, not just to have a crush on, but with whom I want to have a long term relationship. Twenty minutes into Big Sister's underpants clad, red faced and sweaty mania, our time together was slipping away as I was due to get Big Brother from his club. My sweet new friend hustled me out her door, smoothed Big Sister's hair, cut paper hearts for the girls to color, and served a homemade snack. Maybe better, she gave me a few minutes of fresh air to retrieve Big Brother, knowing I was mortified and angry. She also gave me her house keys so Big Brother and I could let ourselves back in her flat quietly with the assumption that Big Sister would continue to be soothed.

When I returned just in time to dash back out with Big Brother and Big Sister to go home to the others and relieve the babysitter, my new girlfriend sent us home with big pieces of the cake she'd baked this morning that we didn't get to enjoy together. She pledged that we'd do it again. Without the hysterics. She loved Big Sister and me. She made it all okay.

We could rehash the how and whys of the tantrum, you and I. Trust me, I already have and I know will continue to cringe when I think of it all. I sent Big Sister straight to her room when we got home. I peeked in and saw she spent most of the time sitting on the floor staring at herself in her closet mirror. I went in to tell her it was time for dinner and to talk to her quietly. I asked what she was thinking about and what she saw in that mirror. She said simply, "God."

When I caught my breath, we talked for a long time about how God thinks we are wonderful. Always and without exception. No matter the worst of all of our possible deeds, way worse that temper tantrums, God knows and loves us. But also that the rest of us, people, we only get to know each other through our actions and deeds. Heavy stuff in my tiny girl's head. No wonder she can't manage to put clothes on. Think of all that she is carrying on her heart.

Make new friends. But keep the old. One is silver and the other gold. I know that is meant to say old friends are gold and new ones like silver, but today, a shiny, little piece of French gold glimmered for me. She glimmered for Big Sister, too and showed me the face of God. And Big Sister, when her tears dried, saw God looking at her, too.

If the hours are rough in my job, the on the job training is worse, and the work it entails some days is more than I think I can manage. But, my gracious, the rewards. They are greater than any others I could hope for.

That being lovingly said, I think I'm due some combat pay today. In gold. Maybe platinum.

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