At nearly every well visit, Natalie's pediatricians have eyed me up and down and said something along the lines of, "She's small for her age, barely in the 10th percentile. But, looking at you, you're fairly tall. Is there—" and their voices trail off.
And I explain that Jim's mom is small of stature and that Natalie likely follows in her (small little bitty) footsteps.
She did not want to eat dinner. No way. No how. No why. I gave her plenty of chances to make a better decision than to skip the meal. I encouraged her to calm the heck down. She played me. She balked. She claimed that, yes, she would sit down to eat, but then, three times, she turned up her nose, literally, and refused to eat.
I whisked her off to the tub, where I gave her a little bird bath. And Natalie shrieked and hollered and carried on quite like a little banshee.
"You will not win this battle," I told her calmly. "You will not win."
And she didn't. Sometime after I dried her hair and brushed her teeth, Natalie did calm down: "I changed my mood, Mommy," she said, looking up at me with reddened, tired eyes.
Earlier this morning, as I tapped the snooze button on my cell once, twice, and then a shameful three times, I thought, "If only hitting the snooze button also simultaneously cancelled all of my obligations for the day, now that'd be something." Long story, short: I never quite woke up today. It's been raining since yesterday. My eyes feel old and tired. We're fumbling back into the swing of early mornings and schooldays after a long two-week break for the holidays. Point being, I am low on physical and emotional energy.
But somehow, that moment where Natalie looked up at me, trying to make amends, brought to mind a little snippet that I had read earlier in the day about a mom who requires that her children couple apologies with good deeds. Apologitic words alone don't cut it in her house. Apologies + Deeds do. If her son, say, speaks rudely to his sister, he must apologize and also complete one of his sister's chores or fix her a snack or some such.
And so, there in the kitchen, old tired me suggested that Natalie, who is all about writing these days, write an apology letter.
It's all twirls and curves and loops: Natalie, bored with printed letters, claims that she is teaching herself to write "swirly." She read her letter aloud for me, and since I was sitting near my iPad, I did with anyone with a memory like a sieve would do: I typed what she read.
I've taken the liberty of transcribing Natalie's apology note in the swirliest of cursive fonts. (Natalie would like it that way, I think.)