(I drafted this in August, and something happened today that reminded me of it. Maybe in a few months something else will happen that reminds me of today and you'll get that post. In the meantime, enjoy Frances's refreshing lack of pyromania.)
It was an accident; her hand slipped when she was reaching over my face for something and her forehead bonked me in the eye. Ouch. "Hey!" I said.
Frances sat very still for a few moments, her face serious and eyes large. Then she cried.
"Oh hey, honey, it's ok. It was an accident." I pull her in for a hug and notice that her nose is bleeding, get her a kleenex.
"Mummy, will you still love me even when I hit you?"
"Yes. I will always love you."
"Will you love me still even when I hit you on purpose?"
"Of course, sweetie. There is nothing you could do to make me stop loving you." I am still wiping blood from her face and dabbing tears away. "I wouldn't like it if you hit me on purpose. I might be angry and upset. But I would still love you."
She is still crying. We share another hug. "Sweetie, I am going to ask you something, and I might cry. But it's not because of anything you did, it's just because it's going to be hard for me to say, ok?"
"Are you sometimes scared that I might stop loving you?"
She nods, and cries a little harder.
"You know, sometimes, when Mummies and Daddies break up--when they get divorced--sometimes, their kids think it was something they did. But it never is. Kids can't do anything to make mummies and daddies break up. That's an adult thing. You know?"
She nods, still crying.
"And sometimes kids think that if they do something bad, their mummy or daddy will get really mad and stop loving them and leave them too. But it's not the same thing. Mummies and daddies can't stop loving their kids. OK?"
She nods, still crying.
"I will always love you, I will always be here to take care of you. I will be here to make your suppers and clean your clothes and play with you and take you to school and everything. Always. Even if you hit me on purpose."
"Because then you would be happy again?"
"Well. I would be, I guess, but even when I'm not happy, I love you."
This goes on for a while longer. Then I make a tactical error: "I would love you even if you hit me over the head with a frying pan. I would love you even if you burned down the whole house!"
"But Mummy, that's silly, I can't do that. I don't have any fire in me!" And she waves her hands around for inspection: see? Look, no fire.
"I would have to get a lot of fire and put it around the whole house."
"Umm. Yes. But that would be a bad idea, so...."
"Our house would be all burned! The bricks would be burned off! C's house would be burned too!"
"Yes. And all of your toys would be burned, and we would have nothing left. So...."
"And all our money would be gone."
"Yes. So it's a bad idea. Let's not burn the house down." I sighed. "But even if you did, I would still love you."