Mark's hungry cries startled me out of a deep sleep. The sun's rays barely permeated the overcast sky; the high clouds made it seem more like a June morning than one in the middle of May. Dragging myself out of bed, I wondered why I was still so weary. Even after ten hours of sleep, my body felt as though I had just run a marathon.
Plodding through the morning routine, I suspected I was coming down with a cold, but I didn't feel congested. I comforted myself with the promise of a nap.
Mark went down for his nap easily, but Darcy wouldn't settled down. As I lay down on my bed and started to relax, Darcy wandered into my room, her thin, blonde hair damply matted against her head.
"Darcy, you're supposed to be in bed sleeping. Now, go back to your room."
"Mommy, me not tired. Can I color, please?" Her bright, alert eyes convinced me she really wasn't sleepy.
"Oh, all right. You can color here on the floor while I rest." A warning bell in my brain signaled potential danger, but I assured myself I would keep an eye on her while I rested.
I got up, found the crayons and coloring book, and spread them out on the carpet beside my bed. "Now remember, Darcy, you color only on the paper and nothing else, okay?"
Her happy face anticipated coloring in her new Lassie coloring book. I smiled, lay back down on the bed, and watched her scribble on the first page.
Oh, this feels so good. My muscles relaxed, and as I closed my eyes, I felt peaceful, more peaceful than I had felt the last couple of weeks. This feels too good to be true ...
Suddenly, I sat up straight. I was still in a daze when I realized I had drifted off to sleep and completely lost track of time--and Darcy. Oh no, Darcy is gone. I looked around the room. Half the crayons were scattered about the floor and the closet door featured an assortment of red crayon circles.
"Darcy! Darcy! Where are you?"
Oh, no! All the walls will be crayoned. As I felt a burning flash of anger sear through my body, I wondered whether I was more angry with her or myself. Tweet that!
I ran down the hall, following the crayon-marked walls. Turning the corner to her room, I stared in disbelief as Darcy sat on her bed drawing on the wallpaper.
"Darcy! Look what you've done. You brat, look what you've done! How am I ever going to get all these marks off so that Larry won't know what happened?"
I grabbed Darcy at the shoulders and lifted her into the air. Face to face, I screamed, "Darcy, I told you not to color on the walls. Why won't you behave? Can't you do anything right?"
I shook her. Her head wobbled back and forth as she looked at me in wide-eyed horror. "Brat! Brat! Brat! Sometimes I hate you."
In my mind's eye, I imagined hurling her onto the floor, her body landing with a dull thud. I'm going to do it. I want to hurt her.
A second later, the reality of my thought gripped me. I laid her on the bed. "Oh, God!' I sobbed. "I really could have hurt her seriously. I don't hate her. I hate myself. What am I going to do?"
I threw my arms around Darcy's trembling, whimpering body and hugged her tight. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. It was my fault you colored on the walls." I coaxed her into my lap and gently rocked back and forth.
"Why am I so irritable and angry, Darcy? I just don't understand it."
As Darcy cried softly, I surveyed all the bad times we had had during the last couple of weeks and one common denominator stood out: the candy! All that candy was making me tired and irritable. My body was reacting to the sugar. And I hadn't been eating nutritious meals.
"Father, thank you. Thank you for showing me. All right, I won't have any more. I promise."
At three o-clock though, I was haunted by the two candy bars hidden from Larry in the cupboard. I turned on the TV hoping to be diverted.
Trying to concentrate on the program, I eventually glanced into the living room where Darcy played near a five gallon bottle of drinking water. I wonder if she could break that bottle? No, I don't think so, it's awfully heavy. How could she possibly push over such a ... But before I finished my thought, Darcy pushed on the bottle. With a soft crunching sound, the bottle fell over and broke, spilling five gallons of water onto the green, sculptured carpet. Shocked by the accident, Darcy jumped back, then stared at me in fear.
An overwhelming sensation of surrender flowed through my body as I helplessly watched the water soak into the carpet.
"Yes, I see it, Darcy. It's okay, honey. I'm not going to get angry with you. Mommy wasn't taking good care of you. I finally see how wrong I am."
I turned off the television and began picking up the hundreds of pieces of glass.
In the midst of using almost every towel in the house to soak up the water, I said, "Darcy, I promise you I'm going to try to spend more time playing with you. Would you like that?"
She ran off and returned carrying her Candyland game. "Can we play now, Mommmy?" she pleaded with a huge smile.
I laughed, enjoying her enthusiasm and sparkle. "Oh, my daughter Darcy, you are a live one. As soon as I finish this, we will play Candyland."