It’s not my fault – my teacher was a baby

It’s entirely possible that I’ve learned more from my children than they’ve learned from me. This is worrying because my children know next to nothing. Thankfully, they’re not responsible for teaching me any facts, of which they know none, or any language skills, or else I’d be difficult to understand, or any manners or social graces, or else I’d be a pariah. What they have taught me is how to parent.

I think all parents learn how to do this parenting schtick from their children. Get one of those happy, sleepy babies and you learn that parenting isn’t so tough so long as the child’s needs are met. Get a pliant, eager to please child and you learn that patient guidance and consistency are key. What kind of child you have, and thus what kind of parent you learn to be, becomes the lens through which you judge all other parents.

Our firstborn children really mold us. Any subsequent children come as a surprise and we need to relearn all that we thought we knew. Many parents take this opportunity to humbly regret all the judgement they might have passed on others because they finally got the difficult child the rest of us wished upon them.

My sequence is opposite. Luke has been a challenge since the day he was born – at 10 lbs 3 oz. My c-section was my first hint that nothing for the rest of my parenting days would ever go according to my plan. I wanted to be the baby wearing mom, whose baby smiled and cooed and slept peacefully in his sling while I went about my business. This was not to be. None of it. Luke hated being in a sling, Ergo, Bjorn, or any other device that I tried. When front-facing he’d mash his face against me, screaming, scraping off his own skin against my shirt with the vigor of his face-mashing. When he was a bit older he could tolerate facing forward in the Bjorn, but I could no longer carry him in one because he weighed too much. The Ergo was a no-go as he then still refused to face forward and I never figured out how to get the kid onto my back.

I learned that parenting is hard. That I basically couldn’t go anywhere or do anything unless I was willing to endure Luke’s screaming, baleful looks from sympathetic moms, uninvited advice from everyone, and judging eyes from all non-parents or parents of easier babies.

As Luke grew up he became many things, but easy was never one of them. (Still holding out hope on this one!) He did, however, become fastidious about wiping his face on his sleeve after every bite of food. This is pretty gross and untidy and I throw napkins at him constantly, but he is always clean.

Sally was an entirely different baby. Ever since she grew out of her colic, which I’m still surprised I survived, she has been easy going, happy, pliant, and eager for approval. I had to learn how to parent this much simpler* child, and I’m still learning. One thing I have not learned yet, is to wipe her face after eating as she does not fastidiously self-clean on her sleeve.

I never notice her crusty face until I’m out in public. Then I notice that she is the only child with a full milk-crust goatee and jelly stripes up to her ears. And again, even with my easy child, I find myself looking like a careless mother. “But my older kid is a sleeve wiper,” seems like a lame thing to say. And anyway, that doesn’t speak so well for my parenting either.

Oh well. I have mostly come to terms with the fact that I either am or appear to be a lousy mom no matter what combination of kids I’m out in public with.

*Don’t get mad, I don’t mean stupid.

WTF Tapas

It’s been a long time since I posted my last tapas. Either my kids aren’t as funny, or I’m too busy and distracted to find the amusement. Hoping for the latter, as I have a lot of years of child rearing ahead of me which will feel like an eternity with unfunny kids. The latter I can fix.

But you can’t fix unfunny. 

Luckily, when I noticed how long it’s been, I started paying attention and got a few gems.

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L has a dollar. This dollar keeps showing up although I expect it to be lost at any moment. Recently it was found amongst the debris on the floor of the car in front of L’s seat.

Holding it as we drove, he became thoughtful. He said, “If I put my dollar in water will it grow another dollar?”

I burst out laughing and explained that it would not. That’s when he wished he had a Too-Many-Machine. He could put his dollar into the Too-Many-Machine and it would turn into two dollars, then three, four, etc.

I told him that I wished I had a Too-Many-Machine too. I’d use it for cookies. He explained, with the patience of someone talking to an utter simpleton, that it’s called a Too-Many-Machine because when you put cookies in you end up making too many cookies and you get sick. You could also put Mommy in and have two mommies, which would be good. You could put S in and have two S’s which would also be good. But you wouldn’t want too many. And it’s hard to stop before you have too many.

I told him that he’s very wise to realize that. He agreed and decided to just try putting his dollar in water instead.

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Lately L and I have been doing simple math problems as we drive. I’ve been impressed with how quickly he’s picked up addition and subtraction. We take turns asking each other questions.

me: What’s three plus four?

L: (holding up three fingers on one hand, four on the other, and then counting them all) Seven! Now my turn. What’s a hundred minus house?

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Yesterday S wanted to sing me a song, but she couldn’t remember the song she wanted to sing. She kept asking me what song it was that she wanted to sing me. (Annoying in a way that only a nearly-3-year-old can be.) I guessed the usuals, “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” etc. She became increasingly frustrated with my apparent idiocy at not knowing what song she wanted to sing.

me: Please give me a hint. I can’t just guess it.

S: Gort and Gout! 

At this point, I knew exactly what she meant, although I had never heard her sing this song and I wasn’t aware that she knew it. Can you guess?

 

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

We all know that kids parrot what they hear. So if you swear, be prepared for embarrassing situations with your toddler. If you say mean things about relatives, your spouse, or your boss, be ready for those things to come right out of your child’s mouth at the most inopportune times.

When you have more than one child, the younger one doesn’t just have you to learn bad things from. This is a problem. Sometimes S says things in public that I’m certain people assume I say in private. But I don’t. She’s learned them from L.

For example:

One of S’s favorite things to say to me when she’s mad is, “When we get home, I’m going to hit you!”

This totally sounds like something a parent might say to a child in a moment of teeth-clenched public rage. But I never said it! I do plenty of bad things as a mom, but I don’t hit my kids. Or threaten to hit them. (I have pinched though.)

This is something she’s learned from L. He says things like this to her all the time. Because he’s a menacing jerk. But he doesn’t usually follow through. He just likes to make her scared and cry. (See previous menacing jerk comment.)

How can I make it known that I did not say this to her? I feel like I need a t-shirt that says, “Please excuse my daughter. She has a bad big brother.”