"Where did they end up for haircuts?"
Patiently, "Where did they end up for haircuts?"
"Who is 'they'?"
Frustrated now, "Where did they end up for haircuts?"
"Calliope, I hear you asking 'where did they end up for haircuts' but I don't know who you are asking about. Can you tell me what you were thinking about?"
"WHERE. DID. THEY. END. UP. FOR. HAIRCUTS???"
I can't help it. I giggle. I say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand. Can you help me understand what you are asking?"
I hold my breath.
She giggles. For a moment. Then dissolves into sobs.
I turn my head away from her and try to choke down my laughter. It's so hard to not laugh at kids.
But I remember as a young adult, my relationship with my parents suddenly changed. It went from me depending on them for things -- and feeling like they actually liked to threaten to withhold these things from me -- to them suddenly wanting to spend time with me. The power had shifted.
And I was a little disgusted. They had [often] treated me without regard for my feelings, and suddenly they wanted me to regard theirs? To neglect my social calendar to hang out with these, frankly, jerks? No thanks. Not often, anyway.
I had a little more sympathy as we all grew older, but I certainly never felt like I wanted them to be my friends. I felt like that should have started long before, back when they had the power.
And so I think of this often with my own kids. That if I want to be friends with them when they are adults -- and I do want this, desperately so -- I have to start now. I have to treat them as I would want to be treated. Not to neglect my duties as a parent, but to do so gently and with respect. To not laugh at them. As much as possible, anyway. I fail at all my goals on a regular basis, but I'm trying.