February 5th, 2013
Being a parent means that when one of your kids is sick, they will find a way to get their snot DIRECTLY INTO YOUR MOUTH. How does this work? Why? You wouldn’t think such a thing would be possible, and yet, cold after cold, here we are. A nose wipe, a too-moist kiss, SOMETHING. SOMETHING. Somehow, they will find a way to smear whatever it is they have INTO YOUR MOUTH, guaranteeing that you follow suit. The only way to avoid this seems to be to not touch your children at all, and THAT is a bleak prospect, so no.
I’ve been thinking about parenting a lot lately, which is something I’ve only recently been insecure about, and I expect that’s pretty common as your kids get older. Babyhood and even toddlerhood is relatively simple — keep them alive, do your best to prevent outright assholery, while also recognizing that trying to control them is akin to corralling a tiger kitten and just hope you make it through the day without getting bitten or pooped on. It’s so obvious in retrospect how little kids under two can really comprehend and/or control and even from age two to three, things are pretty damned dicey in terms of how much their behavior is a reflection of what you tell them to do. Sure, they model what you DO, but consequences and discipline are iffy concepts for them to grasp.
Three to four, however, shit gets real, and I think what terrifies me is that things just get more and MORE real from here on out. We’re at a stage in her life where she will have memories of some of this stuff moving forward — fuzzy memories, but memories nonetheless. She will remember what I do, how I treated her, things we did and how I handled certain things and it’s just paralyzing sometimes, really it is, because this is one job I can’t screw up and say hey! That was a nice learning experience, and now onto the REAL stuff!
Kids aren’t pancakes. I don’t get to throw the first one away and then make sure the second one comes out right, you know? Augh, you know.
Sam is a challenging kid, and she just doesn’t DO a lot of the things that other kids do, because of who she is — sensory processing disorder and a spirited personality make her a little more sensitive and a little harder to manage than other children. I really don’t see a lot of kids like her out there, unless you count the interwebs (that’s a great post, btw, and one I could have written about Sam). So my parenting challenges aren’t exactly the same as everyone else’s, because, as Jen eloquently writes, I’ve already fought more battles by noon than a lot of people fight with their kids in a day. Hell, we were in Fuddrucker’s recently, and things were going just fine until I looked down and found Sam sobbing into my lap. What the hell happened?
“SOMEONE SAID HI TO ME!” she sobbed and sobbed. And it sounds ridiculous, and on some level it is, but for Sam, it’s a hard thing to handle because it wasn’t something she expected. Again, I realize the absurdity of such a statement, and how it seems like a simple disciplinary and/or redirect situation, but you’re going to have to have some faith in me here when I tell you that it isn’t. And it’s a thing that’s really hard to write about, or even talk about, or even BE, because I never, not for one second, want to give the impression that I am resentful of Sam, that I blame her, that I don’t think she’s an awesome kid. She’s just a little bit different to parent, that’s all, and in a slightly more taxing way. But she is, oh my God, an incredible person that I am so proud to know, much less parent, and that’s the absolute truth.
But oh, I am so insecure about it, even though I know better. I KNOW I work hard with her and I KNOW that she is who she is and it’s not something I did or did not do to make her this way, but when I talk to other parents or read posts about kids who are younger than Sam who can do certain things or behave a certain way that she just cannot, I feel like such a blasted FAILURE sometimes. And people cannot help but give advice about what THEY did that worked, and how I should try the same! Occasionally, people in my family will remind me that I really need to work with her on these things, as if it’s not something I think about every minute. And I KNOW they don’t mean it in a bad or judgmental way, but my hackles get raised, because it is so, so frustrating, if I’m being honest, to have so little control over another person, which seems like an obvious statement, but HEY that is what people expect you to do! CONTROL ANOTHER PERSON.
That’s hard, especially when that person has challenges that make their behavior slightly illogical, and I mean beyond typical child illogical behavior, OF WHICH THERE IS PLENTY, I KNOW.
Last weekend, we went to Yo Gabba Gabba Live! (featuring my boyfriend, DJ Lance Rock), and she did so well, you guys. She did SO WELL. She had a couple of meltdowns, wore her headphones for a fair amount, and I did have to use M&Ms as a bribe a few times and sure, she kept her coat on FOR THE LONGEST TIME, but she did it. She made it through that whole show and she enjoyed it and she still talks about it, and I didn’t have to take her outside, NOT ONCE. And have you ever SEEN Yo Gabba Gabba Live!? It’s SENSORY OVERLOAD. There are lights and booming bass and Jesus, half the characters look like life-size sex toys and out of NOWHERE a giant carrot will start dancing with a strobe light. I mean, that shit is SERIOUS.
And she did it! She DID it. And I cry just thinking about it, because it shouldn’t be a big deal for a kid to go to a live performance of her all-time favorite show, but for Sam it sure is.
God, you guys, I was just so stinking proud of her. I still am when she talks about it and plays a silly song and asks, “Did they sing THIS at the Yo Gabba Gabba concert? I DID NOT THINK SO, MOMMY. But they DID play THIS!” And on cue, she’ll bust out with “Party in My Tummy” from iTunes, like a miniature DJ specializing in children’s music.
The truth too is that there are good things that come out of her being so sensitive — she is remarkably empathetic to other people. She understands consequences when there are feelings involved — I’m consistently amazed at her ability to understand somewhat complex human interactions and how people might FEEL in certain situations, and how things she does might be hurtful. Oh, sure, sometimes she rebels just because she’s almost four, but for the most part, she gets it, which is something I do NOT see in a lot of kids her age, at least to the level Sam is at. Fear of kid being a sociopath? CHECKED OFF, SUCKAHS.
One of my irrational, totally bizarre fears is that Allie won’t be as kind to Sam as Sam is to Allie and then, oh my god, I don’t even know how I’ll deal. At almost eight months old, Allie is already more at ease with the world than Sam is at almost four YEARS old, and I pray that Allie has the love, patience and understanding required of being with her sister. Sam lights up Allie’s world, for sure, but Sam is so in love with her sister that I can’t even put it into words. She doesn’t want to go ANYWHERE without Allie, and I’m amazed I get her to go to school without her. She’s chomping at the bit for Allie to wake up in the morning and from naps, and sometimes I can’t even convince her to wait until Allie wakes up on her own — I’ll hear a door creak open and BOOM! Sam’s whispering over the baby’s sleeping form, “Hi little girl! I MISSED YOUUUU!” And she really did.
I love her so much you guys, I can’t even begin to quantify it. And I just . . . I don’t want to mess it up.
Entry Filed under: Beeber McSteebs