Once a week Sweet P takes swimming lessons at a facility in a shopping center. There is also a children’s gym, a veterinary hospital, a boxing rink, and a children’s prep academy across the lot. But her favorite place in the strip of storefronts is a pizzeria. And rightfully so. They have the absolute best cheese bread either of us has ever tasted. I even have my niece hooked on it.
Each week, almost like clockwork, she asks if we can get a cheese pizza after class. (She doesn’t know the ‘pizza’ she likes is actually cheese bread, simply because it doesn’t have marinara sauce.) And if she’s had a great day, I oblige. I call it in ahead of time and the representative on the phone says, “It’ll be 15 minutes.” Sure, no problem. I drive down and sit outside in the car and wait at least 20 minutes. And every time, without fail, Sweet P and I walk in to pay and pick it up, and the person at the counter says, “It’ll be another 10 minutes.”
The last time was unfortunately no different. I called, we waited (an additional 10 minutes in the car this time), we entered, and waited some more. When I walked up to the counter the person said, “Um, it’ll be ready in 10.” TEN MINUTES! On top of the 25 minutes I’d already waited in the car. Sweet P even asked (while in the car), “Are you sure it’s going to be ready this time mommy?” I typically let her crank up a movie in the interim, so interrupting Veggie Tales or Madeline would not be her first choice.
I huffed but dragged her over to a booth table and sat. And sat. After a few minutes I let out big resounding child-like siiiiiggghhh.
“What’s wrong mommy?”
“Nothing. I’m ok.”
“Well why did you make that noise? You never make that noise.”
“I’m sorry honey, I’m just frustrated. I thought the pizza would be ready by now and it’s not. And I’m tired and ready to go.”
Instantly, this little four year old child, that I thought didn’t really listen to me when I try to instill values in her said, “Then you should go tell her. You should tell her that you’re frustrated.”
I wrinkled my forehead. “What?”
“You should go and tell that lady that you’re frustrated.”
She grabbed my wrist and started pulling me up. I held back my jaw-breaking smile and was able to keep a straight face.
“C’mon mommy. I’ll get behind your back.”
“You’ll do what?”
“I’ll get behind your back. So you’ll feel better.”
It took me about three seconds to realize what that meant. She had my back. My four year old spice girl was encouraging me to express my feelings. And she would support me. She would do exactly what I’ve always done for her. My husband and I have always encouraged her to express herself and use her words when she felt she was being treated unfairly. Or when she wasn’t pleased with an outcome that could’ve been different. Or simply when she had any emotion running through her body. Let it out.
Instead of giving the pizza lady a piece of my mind (because it may not have been nice), I grabbed my girl and gave her a piece of my love.
She’s listening. She’s learning. She’s teaching.