Sometimes, I find myself wondering, if I’m not actually getting worse at this parenting gig as I get older. Or, perhaps, it’s the having more than one or two. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m definitely not the parent I was, when I started this journey.
Or maybe, it’s the kids fault. Ok, it’s probably the kids fault. It usually is, when something gets broken, or goes missing around here, and I think maybe they broke me.
I mean, people joke about how, with your first kid, if they eat dirt, you’re calling poison control. With the third kid, you wonder if you need to feed them lunch. Let me tell you, by kid #6, you shrug and ask, “Is it CLEAN dirt?”
My standards have done more than just fall. They’ve flat-out disappeared in some respects.
With the first kids, being dressed in outfits, before going anywhere, was a must. Now? “Is it clean?” is my current basis for inspection. And, let’s be really honest here: what I actually mean is, does it look clean? Because I know kids. They can swear on pain of losing all electronics until their 18th birthday that they just got it out of their drawers, very sincerely…but what they neglect to mention is that their clothing is a hodge-podge of clean and dirty that they just stuff in there for when Mom or Dad announces there’s going to be a room inspection. There’s also the Sniff Test, but that one gets you some weird looks. Now, I’m not crazy enough to sniff my kids when we’re out in public, but kids talk. And, someone announcing, “My Mom had to sniff me before I could leave!” has a way of getting around. I try to convince myself that it says more about their hygiene and seeming allergy to all things clean at this point in their life than it does about me, but I notice the looks from the neighbours.
(And yes, I know that once the boy hits the teen years and decides girls aren’t gross any more that I’ll need a SWAT team to pry him out of the shower.)
Holes are the other thing. I don’t know what kids do, but the ability to put their knees through a brand new pair of pants by the third wearing is something that I’ve had to learn to expect. I don’t know if other parents have this issue, or my children have particularly bony knees, but it’s the reality I live with. I suspect that they gather at the park, away from the prying eyes of parental figures, and deliberately rub the knees of their jeans against a brick wall. Or a rock. Or pay an older, newly licensed sibling, to drag them behind the car for a few blocks.
If it were the 80s, you could hand the kid a couple of bandanas to tie around their wrists, and they’d look stylin’. But, since the 80s are long gone, holes in jeans just looks raggedy. Which brings up the next parenting challenge: ridding the child’s closet of holey clothing. I call it, ‘Ninja Parenting’. You need the stealth of a ninja, the steel nerves of an international spy, and the lying powers of a politician to get away with making their things disappear.
And it never fails: your child, who could be blissfully ignorant while standing on a sibling’s throat, or of wading through discarded candy wrappers, who greets reprimands about these things with, “What? Oh. Well, I didn’t see her laying there…” has some sort of innate radar that starts shrieking when their purloined goods leave the house. Suddenly, finding whatever it is you’ve managed to smuggle out becomes their Life Mission.
You have two choices: lie your ass off, claiming innocence, with “I don’t know WHAT happened to those jeans!” much like they do when you discover the empty ice cream carton stuffed in the back of the freezer, with suspiciously small Rocky Road finger prints all over it, or attempt to reason with them, “Sweetie, I would get arrested if you wore that in public again. You don’t want Mom to go to jail do you?”
If it meant having their jeans back again, they’d risk it.
Parenting. It’s not for the weak.
ps: Diva picked the title. Yell at her if you don’t like it.