The way a child can take a perfectly good moment and turn it into a horrible one is amazing. I mean, it’s a special gift. One second, you’re having a successful shopping trip, loading up a grocery cart. The kid is happy, pushing their mini-cart along. Life is good. Then, the following reasoning seems to take place in their brain:
“Hmmm, there is chocolate. I will eat some chocolate now. Oh. My dad is telling me not to eat the chocolate in the store. Aha, I will employ my wily charms to get my way. I will beg him. Hmmm, this is not working. Dad is a horrible person, who has been so nice to me all day and just bought me an ice cream cone 20 minutes ago, but I will forget that for now and start crying. What’s this?! He’s ignoring me?! The nerve! The gall! Fine. I’ll ramp it up. Once I start screaming about the importance of said chocolate in my life, he’ll crack. OK, my throat is hurting from screaming, but I still have no chocolate. This Dad character is a tough nut to crack. Well, it’s time to add the flailing of arms to my act, and preferably while near a shelf laden with glass jars of mustard than I can knock over. Whoops, there it goes. Clean-up on aisle 4. That oughta get his attention. Man, why is Dad such a meanie? I am making an enormous scene here, and still no chocolate! This is bordering on ridiculous. HEY! There’s my cousin! Yay. Yippee. I am so happy. I can’t wait to run over and say hi. Hey, this is weird. I have water in my eyes. I must have been crying about something. I can’t remember what it was though. Oh well. Hmm, Dad is staring at me with a confused look.”
Abigail has a neat talent for being “open” about how she feels. It’s tough to say much, because I often find myself being proud that she’s confident enough to be honest to people. But sometimes it goes too far, and I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned in what things can be thought but not said.
“Dad, thanks for coming to get me from the birthday party. I’m glad you’re the first parent to show up. This was the worst party ever. The cake tasted gross. And look at this loot bag. Are they serious? Oh, and doesn’t their house smell like cat pee? I can’t wait to go home.”
Amalie just loves to pick her nose. I mean, she’s an artist with it. It’s not a simple pick and flick. She goes deep, and she has a look on her face that displays pure content. It’s a nice relaxing activity for her, and you hate to take that away from a child, but when it’s at the table, or whatever, we do ask her to stop.
Similarly, Andon loves pulling his own body parts. Given the opportunity, he’ll hang on for dear life and yank things to the point where you’re expecting a life-altering injury. And then he lets go, lets the business snap back into place and laughs and laughs. Which is why we try not to ever give him the opportunity. Once he graduates from diapers, I’ll be buying him a gonch with a belt on it so he can’t do any damage.
You Can Only Take So Much
Our kids LOVE to do “performances”. They both firmly believe they are professional dancers, singers, choreographers, musicians, actors, athletes, you name it. And they will practice putting on a show, and then perform it. This behaviour increases ten-fold when we have company over. I don’t want to crush my children’s dreams, but sometimes, you just have to curb it. We’re like “OK, sure that would be really nice to see a ballet show.” I look at the company, and they’re glancing at their watches, doing the “Oh look at the time!” thing. And that’s BEFORE the 20 minute performance. It’s cute, but it has to be limited.
Why? – again, it’s something that you don’t want to stop immediately, because it shows their brains are actually working, but you can hear all the stories you want. There is no greater torture than answering “why” to 4000 questions in one evening. The most battle-scarred, hardened CIA operatives in the world couldn’t last through one night of being subjected to my kids’ questioning. “No, please, no more! I’ll tell you everything! Please, just give me back to the waterboarding guy. That was way better. Just no more questions!”
So, to be clear, raising children is a very rewarding thing. Ha ha! No seriously, it has its moments. When you come home and the chalk writing on the sidewalk reads “We <3 U, Dad! Love, Abigail + Amalie” (like it did today) or when your baby lays its tired head on your chest and takes a load off, whether its two days old, or eight years old, your heart will melt and you will realize that every single moment of pain and head-shaking is worth it. But don’t you start thinking it’s all going to make sense.
The biggest reward to all this may lay some time in the future.
When we’ll hopefully be there to witness our children’s children. Doing the same things to them. PAYBACK!
Tom Sedens is the husband to his dream girl, the co-founder of 3 kids that make his world go round, blogger at wildsau.ca, and a grateful soul for a life full of blessings.