Today you are thirty months old.

I have come a long way in riding out your tantrums. Mostly, a tantrum is an easily discernible avalanche of emotion that has no way of working its way through your body at this age other than by screaming, melting to the floor, stiffening the entire corps, etc. It is the manifestation of anger, sadness, rage, disappointment, or frustration. Or a combination of those. It took me a while to translate them, but now I am a pro.

But then there's this other sort of state that you enter that has no basis in reality. It is not founded on actual emotions, but rather it comes from being overtired or overstimulated or having no control. Or a combination of those. And this state I am not so good at translating, because, to be honest, it has no translation. It would be a long printout of Webdings if transcribed from brain to paper. It is an electrical storm.

On Sunday, you entered this state and it was at the end of a four day trip. I understand. I was done, too. But trying to make it through the day with you, to get on a plane, and make it home, in one piece, was looking nearly impossible. You entered this state when you woke up, and you did not exit until we sat down in the terminal.

It was ugly, to paraphrase.

You screamed about not wanting to pee after you'd already peed. You screamed about sharing a single berry from you plate with your uncle. You screamed about exiting the car from three floors below ground in a parking garage. You screamed about being carried through security rather than running zig zags as you would have preferred. You screamed and swatted at a sticker from a TSA agent. And so on.

Did I mention it was ugly?

But then, finally!, we were at our gate. You could smell the barn, I suppose, and you lightened up. Your soul returned to your body and the devil exited. You entertained my idea of running leap frog style through the empty hall of the terminal. And then you climbed up on to a window sill.

And as you came off said window sill, over the central air vent in front of it, two of your tiny fingers slipped inside its square, gridded vents, and as you body went forward your fingers stayed inside and when they finally came along with you, you screamed OUCH.

I knew exactly what had happened and I knew the feeling, but I didn't know exactly what had happened until I looked down to see a lot of blood.

Me as your mother, I flipped out. Here were your insides on your outside and you've never bled like that before. Me as your mother, I lost it.

But me a closet ER nurse? I wrapped your fingers up in my shirt to catch the blood and stop the bleeding. I put pressure as best I could without hurting you even more. I entertained your idea that it was your bloodied but not cut hand that actually needed pressure and wrapped both your tiny hands in my shirt, and I briskly carried you to the other end of the hallway to the only agent around where I clearly stated that we needed first aid.

And then I barked orders to my parents and whoever else was offering a hand because there was apparently no first aid kit in the airport. And then you overrode my orders because you are my daughter and you are two and a half and they were, after all, your fingers, and so I respected your medical decisions.

I told you over and over again how well you were doing, because you were doing a damn fine job.

The bleeding stopped. I got you cleaned up. You held you fingers up, gingerly, and put on your bravest face. I washed your blood from my hands and my entire forearm and wore a shirt covered in blood for the rest of the evening.

You eventually fell asleep in my arms on the way down into San Francisco and I carried your heavy body from the plane, into a car, all the way home and into bed.

It's not that I ever lost sight of how much I love you during those irrational moments earlier in the day. It's just that sometimes your day has to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Happy Half Birthday.