Humility On The Battlefield Of Parenting

Before Hubs and I were parents, we were very good parents.

Meaning, we knew exactly what OTHER PARENTS were doing wrong.

Because Hubs and I waited a bit longer to have the boy (as in, we were thirty), our closest friends had already started the process of bringing babies home from the hospital and changing their schedules to accommodate naps and early bedtimes and SHE HAS AN EAR INFECTION, SO WHO IS STAYING HOME FROM WORK TODAY WITH HER?  I remember watching a good friend hand a Happy Meal to her two-year-old, and admit, “I’d be completely lost without the four-piece nuggets and small fries in our lives.”

Our future children weren’t going to eat fast food.  I was going to make homemade baby food, and there would be hot, nutritious meals for dinner every night.

Another time, I visited a friend at her house.  Her then four-year-old was on the sofa, watching TV.  She confessed to me, “I’ve let him watch five entire hours of that TV today, because I had to get some stuff done.  He has been in heaven!”

I considered telling her that she’d probably need to go to confession and have some Hail Marys assigned to her for this sin.

Our future children were going to grow up reading books, with very little exposure to the television.  Five hours of TV wasn’t going to happen in an entire month at our house, let alone a single afternoon.

And then we had the boy.  The boy was a very easy baby, and a very easy toddler.  Hubs and I decided that we should really write a parenting book, because we had NAILED IT, people!  We had this well-behaved little fellow, who wasn’t even interested in the TV.  The boy couldn’t even be enticed with bribes to sit in front of the television set.

Hubs and I were amazing parents.

Except… He experienced the four-piece nuggets and the small French fries, because I don’t know what universe I was living in when I thought that just having a baby and bringing him home would immediately change my opinion on HOW FUN!  OH, HOW MUCH FUN! it is to cook.

We were going to leave that part plum OUT OF the parenting book that we were planning, which was going to rocket us to millionaire status, and bring us to Oprah’s stage.

And then, when the boy was four years old, he discovered the television.  He woke up one morning and said, “What is this magical box of lights and sounds and VISUAL STORIES that we’ve had in our house?”

Just like that, he became a TV junkie.  Hubs and I have had to use our VERY STERN VOICE over the years to say, “No!  You’re DONE with the TV today!  Don’t ask us again!  Your life will go on just fine without Scooby Doo this morning!”

So we were going to have to leave that part out of the book, too.

With the arrival of Thing 2 in our lives, Hubs and I have discovered just how easy the boy was as a little tot.  He didn’t watch TV, because his attention span was ENORMOUSLY HUGE, and he could entertain himself with a box of nails, a hammer and a board for two entire hours, without moving from his spot on the patio.  My house was always spotless, because the boy was enthralled with Legos, so he’d sit on his bedroom floor for half of the afternoon, building elaborate castles that put the creations from other preschoolers to absolute shame, while Mama knocked out some chores.

Hubs and I have decided that the boy just had a very agreeable, cooperative, didn’t-want-to-disappoint-anyone, Type A, first-born personality.  Our great parenting skills were probably linked more to that personality of his and FAR LESS to anything that we did fantastically well as parents.

And now?

Well.

Baby Einstein videos on the Samsung tablet and the iPad are totally saving our sanity around this house.

IMG_0005 IMG_0006 IMG_0009 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0013 IMG_0017 IMG_0018Thing 2 likes to have a little snack in a plastic dish, while Mama dials up a Baby Einstein video and props the tablet up somewhere.

He will sit there, mesmerized, for AT LEAST THIRTY MINUTES, Y’ALL!!

And thirty entire minutes of “down time” in our lives is necessary, because do you want to know how our days go?

On Saturday, our friend, Paul, came over with a monstrously huge leaf vacuum to help us get some leafs up from our yard.  Thing 2 was thrilled, because the giant leaf vacuum translated to TRACTOR!  TRACTOR!  TRACT!!!!OR!!!!! in his book.  I took him outside to get a better look, while I planned to help.

Four minutes after we’d gone outside, Thing 2 picked up a pile of very wet deer poop, squished it in his hands, and then tried (TRIED!!! DIDN’T SUCCEED, PEOPLE!!) to take a bite of it.

Washing wet deer poop off your baby’s hands and DIGGING IT OUT FROM BENEATH HIS FINGERNAILS does not make for happy Saturdays.

The bucket of Halloween candy was sitting on the kitchen island this weekend.  Thing 2 begged for CAN-EE!  CAN-EE!  CAN-EEEEE!!!!!  I told him that he didn’t need candy, because LET’S PRETEND WE EAT HEALTHY FOODS IN THIS HOUSE, SHALL WE?  I walked to the boy’s bedroom to put some freshly-laundered clothes away in his closet.  When I returned to the kitchen, there was Thing 2, sitting on the floor, WITH THE BUCKET OF HALLOWEEN CANDY, eating a Milky Way candy bar, wrapper and all.  He had chocolate from one ear to the other, and bits of brown wrapper in his mouth.  Plus, he was drooling brown sludge all down the front of his shirt.

(Yes.  The built-in bookcase in our kitchen island can double as a ladder, in times of great need.)

On Saturday morning, I forgot to close the lid on our toilet.  That was my fault.

We found Thing 2 STANDING IN the toilet.  He was sopping wet, up to his knees, and having a fantastic time stomping both of his little bare feet in the water.

This morning, I gave Thing 2 a pair of freshly-folded-and-still-warm-from-the-dryer pair of his own little socks.  I told him to go put them on his bed.  He likes to “help” Mama with the laundry.

I didn’t follow up with where he had put this pair of clean socks.

While I was putting clothes away in my closet, he came up to me, sucking on a sopping wet sock and saying, “Mmm!  Mmm!!  Mmmmmmmm!!!!”  Following the trail of water behind Thing 2 led us straight to the cats’ water dish.  He had dunked his clean pair of baby socks in the kitties’ water… and was sucking it out of the fabric for a nice drink.

Thirty minutes later, I heard a great crash on the stairs.  Thing 2 has a bright green dinosaur that he can ride on like a trike.  Mam and Pa gave it to him for Christmas, and he rides that thing everywhere, every single day.  Today, he tried to ride it down our stairs, because Mama had left the gate open.  The dinosaur made it down all seventeen steps and landed upside down in our family room.  I’m thankful to report that Thing 2 fell off the plastic reptile on the sixth step down.  He was safe and happy and yelling, “Oh, noooooo!!!!!”

Fifteen minutes later, he opened the door to the boy’s bathroom and came out with a wad of toilet paper.  He was blowing his nose, which is THE CUTEST thing of ever!  He holds a bit of tissue to his nose and makes a growling sound in his throat, which is supposed to be the great honking of his nose as it’s blown.

The entire, PRACTICALLY-BRAND-NEW, roll of Charmin was piled up and strewn all over the boy’s bathroom.  It looked like a Halloween prank in there, where someone TP-ed the toilet.

Thing 2 loves to watch the wild turkeys out the windows of our house, as they roam our yard.  This afternoon, he was watching out our dining room windows, and hollering, “Turkeys!  Turkeys!”  Six seconds passed before I found him STANDING ON TOP OF OUR DINING ROOM TABLE, hollering, “TURKEYS! TURKEYS!” even louder.  He was also hopping up and down on the table, and frantically pointing out the window.

Apparently his view from the floor was hindered by the deck railing in his line of vision, so he climbed atop something high so that he could see the wild birds better.

First thing this morning… as in, PRETTY MUCH AT 6:30… I was in the shower, when I heard Hubs making quite a commotion.  I thought it best NOT to stick my head out of the shower and make inquiries.  I just kept lathering, rinsing and repeating, and minding my own business.  When I ventured out of the shower, I asked Hubs what had happened.  Apparently, Thing 2, fully clothed in his footy pajamas, opened the bathroom door on the boy and crawled on into the shower with him, before the boy realized what was happening.  The boy hollered and helped Thing 2 out of the tub.  That baby of ours was then wearing a SOAKING WET pair of footy pajamas, which was great, when he took off running across the house, with Hubs hot on his tail.

And all of these things?  Well…. they’ve all happened since Saturday, people.

Today is Monday.

Do y’all understand why we NEED the Baby Einstein / snack breaks at our house?

I’m sorry I ever judged a mama for caving to five hours’ worth of TV for her preschooler one day.  I can honestly admit that if Thing 2 would last five hours in front of the lively puppets and music, I’d burn that battery down on the iPad while he watched it, because the moral of the story is, “Sometimes parents do what they have to do,” and also, “You shouldn’t judge parents, as long as they’re not abusing their kiddos.”

My darling friend, Sierra, told me yesterday at church, “It’s called HUMILITY.  It’s a gift!  Humility is a gift from God!!”  And then she laughed and hugged me.

It’s because she’s gone through a son who was a whole lot like Thing 2, and she’s shown me that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, when they learn that standing on the dining room tables and eating deer poop and wearing pajamas into the shower aren’t quite as fun as they once expected.

So… YAY!!

Happy Monday, y’all.

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