Last night my five-year-old daughter came out after we tucked her in for some familiar bedtime shenanigans. My husband and I are natural night owls who can understand her tug towards wanting to stay up. Who wants to go go to bed when mommy and daddy clearly throw a party every night after she goes to bed?
Her excuse this night was, “I’m just so emotional and I don’t know why and I just can’t fall asleep until I figure it out.”
I tried to ration with her by providing a logical explanation. “It’s because you’re very tired. When our bodies become exhausted, we become extra grumpy. The emotional you’re feeling is actually tired in disguise. Fatigue is the real culprit and you don’t recognize it because you’re only ale to feel inexplicably emotional. There’s nothing wrong; go back to bed and in the morning you’ll be rested and feel better.”
“How do you know all that?” She asked me.
“What do you mean?” I wasn’t sure which part she was questioning.
“Where did you learn that? Did they teach you that at school? Did you read it in a book? Did your mother tell you that?” She was grilling me and I was on the stand!
I was taken aback. What a mature line of questioning. Part of me felt defensive and the other part felt mama pride. I recognized this inquisitive behavior as she stood with her arms folded, three months shy of her sixth birthday. Her soul winked at me in that golden moment and revealed a glimmer of the miracle workings of genetics. Rather than get aggravated because she was trying to dupe me into staying up, I played right along with her in the game I practically invented.
How can I be angry with her when clearly it’s a DNA malfunction? Besides, she was capitalizing on the woman’s movement, valuing the power of her voice and her brain to use scientific lines of deduction to ask me intelligent follow-up questions (to my ‘emotional is just tired in disguise’ rationale).
I defended myself: “I learned it through experience in life! When I first dated your dad, we stayed up late very often and I would have to wake up early to go to work and I got very little sleep and eventually it made me very emotional in the mornings – and extra grumpy.”
“So you learned it by living it?”
“Yes, I learned it by living it.”
She stopped and visually pondered my response. Her face shifted into a smirk realizing she ran out of questions to keep stringing the conversation along. It won’t be long until this Queen of Bullshit is outmatched by her progeny’s more intense interrogation.
She was defeated and went back to bed. For now.
“Good night, sweetie.”
“Good night, mooooooom.”