According to urbandictionary.com, bugger has many definitions, including a few that are inappropriate for this mommy blog. This is the definition I like best: An exclamation to a really bad occurrence. On some days, the pride I feel as a Mama is overwhelming. On other days, I think to myself, oh bugger.
Yesterday, I walked straight into a spider web in my backyard, and my physical reaction was simply absurd. I closed my eyes, flailed my arms, hopped from one foot the other to the beat of some kind of rain/pee-pee dance, and swatted the air with my hands. I fell back a step only to knock Riley down on the ground – face first – behind me. Yes, Riley and Dylan witnessed my award-winning performance. And the next thing I knew both of them ran for cover in the screened-in patio. Through the doggie door. Head first. (They’re still too little to reach the door handle.) Bugger.
I try so hard not to project my fears and anxieties on my children, and I think we can all agree I pretty much suck at it. Ironically, when I walked into the spider web, I was in the process of freeing two strange little bugs that were mysteriously hanging out on a roll of paper towels in the kitchen. In the heat of the moment, I squashed the two little buggers I was trying to set free. You can call me a lot of names, but Nature Mama isn’t one of them.
Earlier in the day, I had an equally humbling and awkward parenting moment. I took the boys shoe shopping after school. Both of them need something to wear besides sneakers and Crocs, especially Dylan who has three formal Pre-Kindergarten graduation events coming up, including a Prom. (Have you heard? Pre-K is the new 12th grade.)
I told the boys if they were patient and good listeners at the shoe store, they could each get a new Jibbitz for their Crocs. Dylan quickly chose Anakin from Star Wars. Riley, on the other hand, set his sights on an extra-large, extra-pink butterfly.
Let me explain something. I own several Tinker Bell and princess movies. Dylan went through a fairy phase, mermaid phase, a pink and a purple phase, and a short-lived (thankfully) Barbie phase. A few years ago, he contemplated being a fairy for Halloween. In the end, he decided to be Lightning McQueen, but I was ready to make him the most kick-ass fairy costume on the planet. I don’t like to prescribe to rigid gender boundaries – especially for young, curious children. Yet, I had a hard time saying yes to Riley’s request for the big, pink butterfly Jibbitz.
I tried to persuade him to choose Batman or Boots, but it didn’t work. “How about a dinosaur?” the saleswoman interjected. Then, a little boy in the store said, “How about Diego?” and a little girl said, “How about this spider?” He still wanted the big, pink butterfly. Finally, I said, “The thing is, Riley, usually – not always – but usually girls have pink butterflies on their Crocs, not boys.” I hate that I said that. A lot. Bugger.
The saleswoman came back over and said, “How about Thomas the Train?” We all looked at Riley eager for his response. “Okay,” he said. And then it was over. We bought a Thomas the Train Jibbitz. Except, I wish I had bought him the butterfly. He’s three! He’s curious! He likes butterflies! Who cares! Later that night, perhaps to prove a point, he read me the “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Yes, he read it to me. He memorized the story because he loves butterflies so damn much. And at the end of the book, the big, fat caterpillar becomes a big, beautiful butterfly. Bugger.
Why is it so much easier in our culture for a girl to love pirates than it is for boy to like pink butterflies? And why are butterflies always pink? I want my children to live their best life and be their truest selves – and if having a pink butterfly or a Tinker Bell or a Barbie (but hopefully not Barbie) Jibbitz on their Crocs is a part of the journey, so be it. Next time, I won’t stand in the way. As for the spider webs and other pesky buggers, that’s a done deal. Mama doesn’t like them. Never has and never will.