They say everyone has bad days sometimes. Have you ever thought about what makes some days “bad”? It’s never just about one thing. A bad day is an accumulation of feelings and problems that build up, layer upon layer, like an ill-tasting parfait, with little disappointing nuts and irritating raisins thrown in here and there for good measure.
This was my putrid parfait of January 8th, 2007.
Layer 1: It was a Monday. Mondays start off with one strike against them already, a punishment for the unforgivable crime of putting a stopper on the weekend’s fun and frivolity.
Layer 2: It was dreary and grey and soggy outside, a weather pattern that I don’t happen to like, especially when it continues for so many days that you lose count. All the cars are wearing their filthy winter coat of mixed mud, slush, and de-icing chemicals, and the air even smells grey.
Layer 3: I had been sugar-free for eight days. I am beginning to believe my usual good mood and positive outlook is entirely a product of sugar-induced euphoria. Since going off of the sweet stuff, I have lost four pounds and developed a raging case of PMS and a hair-trigger crying reflex.
Nuts: It was the first day of our new, desperate, Finish-Potty-Training-Caleb-NOW program. In excruciating detail, the problem is this: Caleb will pee in the potty. He’s more than happy to do it anytime you remind him, but when he’s playing, he won’t usually voluntarily stop what he’s doing and go. Furthermore, the boy has some kind of personal aversion to pooping in the potty, with or without reminders. It is not uncommon for me to sit him on the potty for fifteen minutes after lunch with no result, only to have him fill his Pull-Up as soon as we put it back on him. Aggravating, to say the least. Now, his fourth birthday is coming up, and I have reached my breaking point (and the end of the Pull-Ups budget.)
In the morning, I took away the Pull-Ups. I stocked up on M&Ms for bribery purposes. I outlined a lavish reward system wherein 1 poop in the potty=giant handfuls of M&Ms and up to half of the stock on hand at Toys-R-Us. I reviewed basic potty-using technique and did an impromptu “Go, Caleb!” cheer, pulling a muscle in my back that I’m pretty sure I haven’t used since the seventh grade.
Nevertheless, despite these tempting enticements to hit the target, at some point Caleb actually pooped on the floor of his bedroom and then hid all the little turds under his bed so he wouldn’t get in trouble–and went right back to playing. I walked in and smelled the evidence, but his pants were empty. (Maybe my constant reminders to keep his pants clean are working, at least. I just need to get more specific, apparently.) I had to administer the third degree and sacrifice a large chunk of my already-diminished patience before he finally led me to the scene of the coverup, and by then we were both in tears. (I might cry again just typing this!) I had to Lysol everything, since I had no idea what he might have touched with his pestilent fingers. Ewwww!
Raisins: Due, probably, to the compounded effect of all of the above, I had an argument with Paul when I picked him up from work. It was one of those disagreements where all the way through, a little voice in your head is telling you you’re being ridiculous and unreasonable, but the big lump of tears and stress and frustration gnawing a hole in your chest just plows ahead, anyway, leaving a swath of destruction behind you. At some point, we both retreated into silence and finished the drive home that way. It was miserable. I had tears running down my face, my head ached, and I knew I had just driven the one person I wanted to talk to into hiding behind a wall of frustration.
Fortunately, such moments never last long in our marriage. As soon as we hit the door to our apartment, we were talking things out, apologizing, and clearing the air. Ten minutes later, all was forgiven, but I was worn out. When the curtains finally closed on yesterday, I felt exhausted and headache-y and defeated and weepy, and I wanted nothing more than to wipe the whole day off the books and start again.
Unfortunately, when Bad Day Parfait comes your way, often the only way through it is to hold your nose, take a deep breath, and wolf it down, hoping all the while that the next day will taste better.
Thankfully, it usually does.