Last night, I was getting Thing 2 ready for bed when he confessed, “I’m going to be really nice at school tomorrow.” Apparently, being really nice involves abstaining from giving someone a smack-down when they take the last Tonka truck on the playground, and that’s what you had your heart set on playing with.
In the words of our preschooler, “I’m not going to hit OR pull hair if someone else has the trucks.”
In other words, Hubs and I are completely winning at parenting.
This morning, the stars in my eyes over that achievement burned up and fell from the sky, as a little girl in Thing 2’s class sidled up next to him at the job chart. Each day, when the kids first arrive, they have to get their name tags and match them to their names on the job chart, so that they know whether they’ll be the snack helper or the bell ringer.
Those appear to be the top career paths, as kids jostle name tags around every morning, trying to score a place at the top of the corporate preschool ladder. While Thing 2 was looking for his name on the job chart, this little girl looked at him and said, “Good morning, Thing 2.” She’s seriously a three-year-old hippie, and the most adorable thing of ever.
Thing 2 looked at her all sideways, like she’d gotten too far up in his grill, and said, “Don’t say hi to me. I don’t like you, and I never want to hear you talk words to me again.”
The horror of this was only compounded by the fact that this little gal’s mama was standing right there with us, and heard every single word. Honestly, I just wanted to sit down right there on the brightly-colored carpet for circle time with a tall glass of wine, at 8:30 in the morning. Instead, I pulled my son aside and pretty much hissed in his ear that WHAT HAPPENED TO BEING NICE?! And that is how we came to grumble out an apology to this darling little lady, while I informed her mother that HE’S A TOUCH ON THE GROUCHY SIDE TODAY, AND I’M SO, SO INCREDIBLY SORRY.
I think we can cross off an invitation to her birthday party, when the big event rolls around, with all its organic cupcakes and hand-knit placemats.
Then, as luck would have it, Thing 2’s job today turned out to be THE CABOOSE. It’s just easier in the world of tiny tots to assign someone to be the very last person in line, and give it a fancy title like CABOOSE and TALK! IT! UP! as something exciting. The teacher helped Thing 2 locate his name beneath the picture of CABOOSE, and Thing 2 shook his head and stuffed his name card beneath the picture of BELL RINGER. His teacher removed his card and told him that someone else was the bell ringer today, and LOOK! YOU’RE THE CABOOSE! WON’T THAT BE FUN?
Thing 2 shook his head and emphatically declared, “I don’t like to be the last one. I don’t want to be the caboose. I don’t want a job today.”
I blame Hubs for this, as Hubs always says if you’re not hurting someone’s feelings, then you’re not winning. This was followed up yesterday by Thing 2 shouting out as a Toyota drove by us on a two-lane street, “Mom! Drive faster! That Toyota is winning, and we’re going to be LAST!!” And then he burst into tears, because I couldn’t catch the Toyota, due to the problem of CARS IN FRONT OF ME.
Second place is the first loser, and being the caboose is apparently the worst.
I left Thing 2 at school, wished his teachers luck, and came back home to knock out some chores, because apparently I’m not Carol Brady, and Alice doesn’t live here.
The good news, though, is that when I picked Thing 2 up from school, his teacher told me that he had an absolutely FANTASTIC day, and that he was the best caboose they’ve ever had, as he hollered out for people to stay in line and move faster.
I think this can be written up in his file as POSSESSES QUALITY LEADERSHIP SKILLS AND PROVIDES SOLID DIRECTIONS FOR PEERS.
The rest of our afternoon was spent at home, freezing to death because our temperatures have plummeted, and trying to keep Thing 2 from unwrapping all of Hubs’ birthday gifts, because YES! Today is Hubs’ birthday. I’d say that we celebrated with party horns and confetti and the delayed gratification of the wine that I needed at 8:30 this morning, but the honest truth is…
… Hubs left at 5:45 this morning to head over the mountain and bring the Internet to a very tiny town over there. Mark Zuckerberg may have invented Facebook, but without Hubs, teeny-tiny rural towns will never know the beauty of opening it on a giant computer at the office.
By 2:00 this afternoon, I had assured Thing 2 twenty-dozen times that NO! LEAVE THE GIFTS ALONE! DO NOT RIP THE WRAPPING PAPER! NO! THEY’RE NOT YOUR PRESENTS! NO! IT’S NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY! YES! WE’RE WAITING FOR DADDY TO OPEN THEM TONIGHT!
Because it was only 2:00, the option for wine was still not socially acceptable.
And then, the pinnacle of today happened when I heard the faucet in the boys’ bathroom running. Do you know what happens when I hear that sound in our house? It means that we should have bought the flood insurance after all, because WHAT WERE WE THINKING?
I found Thing 2 in the middle of a flood that would have made Noah sit back and take some notice, because that’s what tends to happen when you blast the faucet at full speed and have a bottle of pump-action hand soap in the bottom of the sink. The law of physics takes over. The water hits the soap bottle at a rapid rate of speed, and then it must travel in the opposite direction, which is… namely… over the side of the sink and onto the floor.
Thing 2 already had matters under control. Although the water was still pouring forth like Niagara Falls, he was down on the tile with a bath towel, yelling, “I’ve got it! I’m cleaning up!” I managed to shut the flood source off, and grabbed a towel to help, as I told him, “Good job for cleaning up.”
According to the child psychologists, good parenting is all about finding the golden lining in the situation that makes you want to scratch your nails down a chalkboard and transfer the pain to something else.
Thing 2 replied, “I know. I’m a good helper. But I don’t know what to do with THAT, because I don’t want to use my hands to pick it up.”
And then, people… he pointed.
I’m sure that your mind is already going there, so I’ll just state the facts. We had a cow patty tucked next to the toilet that was approximately the size of a slice of Wonder Bread. Only… you know… we don’t have any cows in the house, because we live in rural America, and we believe that the cows are just fine outside, without the benefit of cotton-fiber sweaters tied around their shoulders.
So, I did what every mother would do in that situation. I snapped a picture of it with my phone and sent it to Hubs, BECAUSE WE ARE NOTHING BUT CLASSY AT OUR HOUSE. I sent it to him, with the text message of, ” SO THIS HAS HAPPENED. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, FOR MISSING OUT ON IT.”
For days like today, there are MAY DRINK WINE BEFORE 5 PM pass cards.
Happy birthday, Hubs. I managed to keep the home fires burning (literally, as we had to change the batteries in our new-age, high-tech fireplace all by ourselves to get things warmed up around here), and I totally took some hits for the team today. Tomorrow, though, is not your birthday, which means that it’s perfectly acceptable to call you to active cow pie and flood control duty. Love you to the moon and back, infinity times. I wouldn’t want anyone else beside me, as we parent a teenager and a toddler, simultaneously.