Sometimes, I think back to when my kid was in the “potted plant phase.” Do you know what I mean? It’s that time when you could leave them in one spot and they magically stayed in that spot. At the time, everything was terrifying. Bringing home that little baby, trying to keep them on a feeding and napping schedule, figuring out tummy time, calling the pediatrician twice a day because they sneezed or napped too long (as if there is such a thing!). But things change and now that potted plant is a full-blown kid. We’ve moved on to new levels of terror.
My husband and I are currently in the throes of raising a four-year-old meets angst-y teenager. She veers into wildly emotional extremes at the drop of a hat . . . from affectionately leaping into our arms to screaming proclamations of, “Just leave me alone, Mom!” Mornings are a particularly sensitive time. When she awakes, will she be a cuddly angel or crabby demon child? I have decided this must be my karmic punishment as a constant late and cranky riser.
Exiting our home in a timely manner is an odyssey. We try to trick ourselves into getting out the door on time, setting impossibly early deadlines so that by the time we actually leave the house, maybe we’re sort of on time. There’s constant negotiating and a consistent lack of focus (“Dad, do you like dinosaurs? I like dinosaurs. Your favorite is stegosaurus and my favorite is T-Rex.” Side note: Why are we never allowed to pick our own favorites? She’s a tiny dictator!), and there are sometimes tears and stomping feet.
Becoming a parent has made me infinitely more patient than I ever thought possible. I used to get frustrated by small inconveniences. But now that sounds like paradise. Every day is chock full of obstacles that delay my husband and me from accomplishing the simplest of tasks.
Today I had to say these five things to get my kid out the door.
1. “Mustache!” She is currently obsessed with the word, “Mustache,” (pronounced: mooo-stash) and is repeating it Rain Man-style and expecting us to echo her back. It’s adorable the first one hundred times. Okay, it’s still adorable, but unrelenting.
2. “Did you wash your hands? Did you wash your hands? Did you? Please wash your hands! Let me feel your hands, okay, you did wash them!” This happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. ALL. DAY. Why does she avoid washing her hands? Why does she want to get pink eye or the norovirus or whatever else kind of evil germs you can only acquire at preschool? The short answer: Kids are disgusting.
3. “Please don’t say ‘ghost poop’ at school.” I mean, here’s the thing, she can say “ghost poop” at home all she wants, but just don’t embarrass us in front of the teachers.
4. “It’s not about winning.” I’m a competitive person, but not everything is a race…unless you are four-years-old, in which case LITERALLY EVERYTHING IS A RACE. I don’t care who found Rainbow Dash first or who drank their milk first. I just want to get out of the house without hearing, “I win, you lose!” I get enough of that on CNN.
5. “Please put your clothes back on.” Seriously, how do these tiny ninjas do it? You’ll be about to walk out the door and they’re suddenly darting around the house naked, giggling madly. I’ve seen your butt, little girl. You came out of me and at this point, I’m not impressed. Get dressed and get in the car.
The wonderful and maddening thing about this phase is that I never know what new brand of chaos tomorrow will bring. Will she be a pirate-kitty argh!-ing and meow-ing her way through breakfast? Will she beg for the iPad every 30 seconds (probably . . . don’t get me started on screen time. I can already tell you that we failed that Parenting Test a long time ago)? How many times will I ask her to wash her hands? The sky’s the limit on that one!
The only thing I do know that will happen . . . I won’t escape my morning without hearing shouts of “Mustache!” and “Ghost Poop!”