Christmas conundrum

To the Editor:

I blew up at my 11-year-old daughter last night over gingerbread. You've maybe seen the scene before: rock-hard cookies, colorful candies, green confectioner's glue, and some "determined" holiday cheer. With my own cookie project underway, I looked on all this and thought to myself, this is a really bad time for the gingerbread project; it's too late, we're all tired ... but it's her project. Be positive. Well that mantra worked for all of three minutes until the green paste made its way to her arms and legs, floor and chairs. It might have been OK if she was enjoying herself, but the whole time she looked kind of reproachful as if to say, you promised me we'd do this together tonight! And that's where I lost it. I grabbed my sponge and frantically began swiping in large arcing motions hissing, "If you haven't noticed I'm making cookies for your class! You decided to push ahead with this project ..."

Then the tears came.

I looked imploringly at my husband who just sat there, watching my little spectacle, and then I peeked at Eliza feeling a mixture of indignation and guilt. It was one of those parenting moments when you know you've stepped over the line, but you feel so justified and can't quite stop yourself from pressing the issue further. My husband didn't budge; he just looked at me. In that silent but painful communiqué, I turned away and clamped my mouth to reconsider my strategy; I could continue to vent about her mess (I was "right" after all), but it was at this point that I stopped myself and wondered about my own rapid pulse. What was with all the exasperation? She wasn't giving me an attitude, complaining or anything; she was just doing her "creative project thing" like she always does.


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