There's something about kids that I don't think anyone understands until they have one. It's how serious they are about play. Things that sound completely ridiculous to grownups are life-and-death kind of important to kids. Things like which cartoon character is on the Pull-Up that they are putting on their ass. If the Pull-Up has Diego instead of Dora, and is blue instead of pink, there will be hell to pay. There will be crying and thrashing and howls of, "But it's not pink!!!" And no, the child will not understand that we were out of Pull-Ups, and Mommy ran to the store, and it was already bed time, and she was frazzled, and the store was out of Dora ones and the Disney Princess ones were not on sale. And Mommy will consider going to a different store at 9 p.m. to get Pull-Ups that have pink on them, because the meltdown will be nuclear.
Mia has this tiny pink stuffed poodle that my mother got her. It is probably 4 inches high and plays a very shrill version of "Happy Birthday" when squeezed. Every night this poodle has to be laid carefully atop a pillow in the hallway outside Mia's room, its head resting on a smaller pillow, its body tucked in to a miniature sleeping bag. It must also have an animal, a pony larger than the poodle itself, to keep it company. Now, this sounds funny, right? But if Mia were not allowed to tuck in her poodle, or if we moved the poodle from its spot, there would be a fit that would be no joke at all. We might all end up in tears.
Just last night, Mia got an Ariel sticker at the doctor's office. (Who's Ariel, you ask? The Little Mermaid, of course.) And it was sparkly and Ariel was wearing a pink dress, and Mia could have cared less that she just had stitches pulled out of her head, because she had the greatest sticker on earth!!! She was on top of the world. All night she was convinced that she was a princess, and she put on her long nightgown that brushes the floor just like Ariel's dress. (We see how well my attempts to shield her from the Disney Princesses are working.) We had to peel the sticker off her shirt and put it on the nightgown. And of course, it didn't stick very well and was lost in the bed just minutes after we turned out the light.
Before we know it, Mr. SOC is upstairs searching the room for a sparkly Ariel sticker while Mia stands in the bed, wailing pathetically, a full hour past her bed time. Soon he's yelling down to me, exasperated, "Do you know where the Ariel sticker is?" And then we are all on the hunt for the no-longer-sticky Ariel sticker. It is fast becoming a full-blown family crisis. Finally, the sticker is found, and stuck to a horse stuffed animal, after attempts to convince her that it would be safer on the bed frame failed miserably. We all breathe a sigh of relief.
But more than an hour later, I go upstairs, and find Mia wide awake in her room. As soon as I step into the room, she gives me a status update on the sticker. "I put the sticker on my pillow," she says, "because it wouldn't stick to the horsie." I nod solemnly, thanking my lucky stars that the sticker is accounted for. This parenting stuff is very serious business indeed.