Forgive me for any typos or incoherence in this post. I had an eye doctor appointment earlier today and the following transpired:
Doc: (putting drops in my eyes) You don’t have anything to do after this appointment, right? Not a lot of reading or writing? What do you do again?
Me: Well, I’m a writer, so, kind of. Why?
Doc: I just dilated your pupils. . .but it should wear off on like five hours or so.
I had plans to finish up this post and a few others I’ve got in the pipeline. I don’t know what has been going on with me lately, but I just can’t get my feet under for some reason. Ever since the girls went back to school, I have been scrambling to get stuff done even more than usual. I tried not to over-schedule us. I have been consistent about getting folks in bed by 8:30 each evening, but more and more I find myself leaning against a door jamb to catch my breath and check the time. It’s usually going onto 10pm and I’m thinking, “What happened to my day?” And what’s even more frustrating is that my day starts at 5am. Who is eating up my hours?!
Anyway, the last post I did was about a few things I’ve learned about parenting. You guys had so many wonderful comments about my insights (ha!) and I loved the suggestions that I had a great platform for a new book (it could happen). I started jotting down a few other things that — to quote Oprah — “I know for sure” about parenting. I had a sticky-note with these bon mots on it. That thing must have grown legs and walked away because, now that I need, can’t find it.
What I can recall from that list, though, is still pretty worthwhile.
- Some days you’re the hero and some days you’re the villain. That’s just life, just like everyone has good days and bad days. Monday was a not so good day for us. Our schedule was tight with school, ballet, homework, piano lessons, and the evening routine. Usually, if the girls finish all of their chores and homework, they get 30 minutes of screen time of their choosing. We were inching closer to bedtime without having had screen time. M realized that she was in her pajamas and yet, hadn’t received her screen time for the day. At that point, I was on total parenting auto-pilot, just trying to get people fed, bathed, and bedded down. Screen time was the last thing on my mind. So, I carefully explained to her that tonight we were just going to do without. I may have said, “You won’t die,” or something to that effect. Well, ol’ girl did not like that. Not at all.
I don’t usually take photos of my kids when they’re in a snit, but this was ridiculous. She was literally vibrating with anger. Over TV. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the night.
The next day, however, all was forgotten. I made dinner, which coincidentally happened to be one of her favorite meals, and poof — I was crowned Best Mom Ever.
- You’re raising kids, not making BFFs. When I was growing up, if I got out of line, my mom would say, “Don’t you [talk/speak/show your tail] to me like that! I’m not one of your little friends!”. I can clearly recall being a teenager and asking my dad if he and I were friends. We were not, he was quick to inform me. I didn’t get it at the time, but now I do. There’s a difference between being friendly with your kids and friends with your kids. The former is more like the golden rule of doing unto others. The latter is more like blurring boundaries to the point that when you try to re-establish them, it’s a laughable exercise. I love the friends I’ve got and I absolutely love the daughters I’ve got. Those are two separate relationships, each of which provide me with unique experiences.
- Sometimes, you’re the smartest person in the room and sometimes, you’re not. Nothing is more humbling than being corrected by your child. I’m a college graduate. I’m well read. I’m pretty savvy. Ask me to conjugate French verbs! Let me tell you about the poetry of Langston Hughes! Ask me about anterior tibial extensor tendon and plantar flexion! When it comes to Singapore Math, Penmanship Without Tears, and the history of the original 13 colonies, however, I have lots to learn. I’ll admit it, I flamed out spectacularly when M asked me to name the capitals of the 50 states. C asked me to define the word ironic the other day and I just couldn’t do it. I know the word ironic . I could use it properly in a sentence. I just couldn’t cough up a concise definition. Of course, I would challenge anyone to come up with a concise definition of ironic. Every time I hear someone use it, I immediately think of this:
- You will spend an inordinate amount of time talking about poop and other bodily functions. There’s really nothing more to say about that except get used to it.
- You’re going to repeat yourself, or as I have come to look at it, you’re teaching new dogs old tricks. My kids have lived with me all of their lives. Our routines have not changed in that time. And yet. . .and yet, these broads still look surprised when I tell them to put on clean underwear, put their dishes in the dishwasher after meals, brush their teeth. True story: I told V to brush her teeth this morning and she said, “But I did that last night!” Granted, she is 3, but she’s heard M and C say that, too, and they’re 10 and 8. There are things we do every day. It’s not going to change. For some reason, they’re holding out hope that maybe today is the day we’re going to do it differently. Nope. We’re not. You still have to put on clean underwear (!), put the dishes in the dishwasher after meals, and brush your teeth.
- You have to be quick on your feet. Three years ago, when I was driving the girls home from school, somehow their conversation turned to V and how’d she come into the world. M was quick to tell C that, “Mom goes to the doctor and they just cut her open and pull the baby out.” M knows that she was born via C-section, but when we talk about her birth story, I know I didn’t use words like “cut” and “pull”. C’s, at the time, was under the impression that, “Mom just pooped us out! Bwhahahahaha!” She likes saying “poop” (see bullet point above). Far be it from me to allow either of those pearls of wisdom to be perpetuated on the playground. We ended up having a rather in-depth anatomy lesson and birthing story on the way home. Oh, how to begin? Well, since they weren’t interested in the beginning, we could skip to the end. They knew the baby was “in my tummy”, so I wanted to make sure that whatever I said was truthful and accurate. I was completely making it up as I went along, but I think it worked. You decide.Me: Okay, so you know how men and women have different body parts? Well, a woman has a muscle in her body called a uterus.C: Do I have a uterus?Me: Are you a woman?
C: No, I’m a kid.
Me: massive eye roll. Yes, but you are a young woman. A girl. A female. Not a boy, right? So you have lady parts. And one of the lady parts is a uterus.
M: Can you please tell the story?
Me: Yes, dear. Alright, so you’re with me so far about the uterus, right?
silence, so I take that as a green light and push forward.
Me: Okay, so a woman has a uterus. The uterus is like a house that the baby lives in as it grows. That’s why a woman’s middle gets big as the baby grows. It looks like it’s her stomach, but it’s really the uterus. Your stomach is where your food goes.
C: When do you poop it out? *giggles*
Me: You don’t poop it out. What happens is. . .well, okay, so you know how I said that the uterus is like a house?
M & C: Yes. . .
Me: And when you are ready to leave the house, how do you come out?
C: Through a door!
Me: Right, so the vagina *ugh, please don’t let them repeat this on the playground, please don’t let them repeat this on the playground* is like a door that the baby goes through in order to be born.
*and here’s where I die a thousand tiny deaths*
M: But. . it’s so SMALL!!
Me: I know, but it’s a muscle like the uterus and it stretches so the baby can come out. And, if you’re lucky, it’ll snap back when it’s all over!
M: So when do they cut it open?
Me: Well, sometimes the baby can’t fit through the door or the baby is trying to come through the door the wrong way. Sometimes a doctor has to help the baby come out by making an incision to –
Co: What’s a in-siss-on?
Me & M: A cut.
Me: But an incision is more precise and it’s a medical procedure..
M: Mom, the baby.
Me: Yeah, I know. So, going back to the house and door. What if you were trying to get out of the house and all the doors were locked? How would you get out?
M: Through a window!
C: Out the screen porch! Or I’d wait for you to come home and open the door.
Me: Let’s go with window. The incision the doctor makes is a different way, like using the window instead of the door, to take the baby out. Okay?
M & C: Okay.
Me: Okay. . .who wants a snack?
And end scene. I suppose I should be thankful they weren’t asking me how she got in there, right? I need to have another house, door, window analogy at the ready. Like, the uterus is a rental property the baby leases for nine months? Not rent to own, or anything. It’s like a timeshare?
Oy. . .I got some work to do.
What parenting pearls can you share with me? Tell me in the comments.