one sad, one funny

Two stories for you.

1. The Sad.

When I picked up Catie at daycare yesterday, she ran to me sort of whimpering and buried her face in my legs. Normally she’s happy to see me, so this was unusual. I raised an eyebrow at her teacher, and she kind of whispered to me, “Clara hit her.”

Here’s the thing. Clara is a very sweet little girl with a pretty major developmental delay. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her. She doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome but it’s something on par with that. She’s older than the rest of the kids in her class (she’s already 4), but she’s still in diapers and just learning “bye-bye” and basic vocabulary stuff. She goes to a special-ed school during the day, so she’s only at the daycare for an hour or so in the afternoons until her parents get off work and pick her up.

The thing is, Clara can be very rough without meaning to be. None of it is ill-intentioned, she’s a really sweet-natured kid. But, like, today for example, while I was there, I saw a little girl with cute little blonde ringlet curls, and Clara ran over and yanked on the little girl’s hair. Which made her cry. But Clara wasn’t being mean, it’s like she was trying to pet the little girl or treat her like a baby doll. She doesn’t realize that she can hurt the other kids. So how do you discipline a child when she honestly has no concept that she’s done anything wrong?

The problem on this occasion, though? Was that Clara hit Catie in the face.

When we got home, Catie mentioned that her mouth hurt where Clara hit her. I looked inside her mouth and saw that she had a cut on the inside of her lip where her tooth dug into it. So obviously Clara hit Catie in the face pretty damn hard.

I didn’t know how to react to that. I wanted to cry. On the one hand, somebody hurt my baby, and that brings out the whole mama bear instinct. On the other hand, my heart breaks for this little girl who’s got an entire lifetime of obstacles and challenges ahead of her. I try to imagine myself in her parents’ place, and… oof. I cannot even begin to imagine what their day-to-day life is like.

Catie’s way of processing things is to talk about it over and over again. So we talked about it several times, and I told her that while it wasn’t nice that Clara hit her, that Clara has a hard time understanding right and wrong, so we can’t be mad at her because she didn’t know what she was doing. I said that if Clara gets too rough again, she needs to tell her to stop, and if she doesn’t stop, then she needs to tell her teacher. I absolutely don’t want to tell my daughter to avoid the special-needs kid in her class, because I think that sets an unhealthy precedent. I’m not sure how else to handle the situation. This is all completely foreign territory for me.

Later that night, Catie and I were practicing drawing her letters. I helped her get started, then I went to wash dishes. She called me and said she had something to show me. I walked over, and saw that she had flipped to a new piece of paper, and she had drawn a perfect tear-drop shape. She said, “That’s the tears I cried when Clara hit me.” I wanted to lie down on the floor and sob. I just don’t know how to explain this on a level that a 3 year-old can understand.

I talked to both the daycare director and Catie’s teacher about it today, since they had no idea that the hit was so hard that it cut her lip. (It was a small cut, it probably didn’t bleed much or a very noticeable amount.) I didn’t ask them to do anything about it, I don’t want to cause any problems for Clara’s family, I just wanted them to be aware of the situation in case it happens more frequently and becomes a problem later on down the road. I didn’t know what else to do, really.

So, yeah. Anybody out there have any experiences like this? Words of wisdom? I’ll take whatever I can get.

2. Now for the funny (which is needed after all that).

I almost had the most awkward conversation with a grocery store cashier, ever.

The cashier guy rang up all my stuff and was starting to put it all in bags. Among my purchases was an econo-size HUGE box of tampons. (Don’t judge me. I buy in bulk. It saves money.) I was already self-conscious about that, because you know, it’s a dude ringing me up and apparently I’m still 13 and this whole menstruation thing is all new to me.

(Seriously, self. It’s been going on for over 20 years now. Time to get used to it.)

In an effort to make conversation, the guy says, “So, big fans of the Crimson Tide, huh?”

I was putting my wallet back in my purse when he said this, but my jaw dropped and I whipped my head around and I was about to say, “I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!!” Because OMG, how offensive can you possibly get, right?

Then I realized he was pointing at Catie’s big stuffed elephant that she was carrying with her. And I remembered that Alabama’s mascot is the elephant. And their football team is called the Crimson Tide.

I mumbled, “Oh. Uh. Not really, she just likes elephants.”

And then I died of embarrassment. The End.