Anyone who saw me at my fourth-grader’s school orientation yesterday must certainly think I have no clue how to manage a child. I tried to introduce myself to her new teacher but there is no way she could hear me over the screaming and thrashing toddler in my arms. She probably just heard, “Hi, my name is Shitty-Ass-Parent, nice to meet you.” Before we even walked into the classroom I tried, I really really tried, to get my shit together. I brought snacks, a toy cell phone, the Ipad with Sesame Street cued up … I was prepared. Between the moment we walked into the building and the few seconds before we entered the classroom, every one of my preparations had been hurled out of the stroller – including my child herself. I tried to bend and push her stiff-as-a-board body back into the stroller but the skreeches echoed through the halls and before someone called Child Protective Services on me, I opted to just hold her. Do you know how much it sucks to hold a writhing 21-pound kid on your hip while pushing a stroller one-handed through crowded school hallways?
And this is the norm. This chaotic, loud, wrestling match is part of our every day life.
What the fuck did I do wrong? This is my third kid. I should have this totally figured out by now. Am I too old this time around? One of my best friends said sarcastically, “Have a 3rd, you said. It will be fun, you said.” Well hell, I had no clue my third would be THAT kid.
The other two had their challenging moments as toddlers, but this kid … she is comprised almost exclusively of challenging moments.
Baby gates? Ha. She laughs in the face of them. Child locks? Just a fun puzzle to figure out. The leather rocking recliner? Trampoline. My desk? A stage to dance on. The toilet (that our 4-year-old never flushes)? Fun water play! And that’s all before we even have breakfast.
I’m pretty sarcastic, I say things with flare to add dramatic effect, but I cross my heart and hope to die – I’M NOT EXAGERATING about this kid. I’ve become that annoying helicopter mom who can’t even hold a conversation at a birthday party for fear of what my terror is getting into. And I did nothing differently this time around. I’m setting the same boundaries, enforcing the same rules.
The difficult child makes you question your previously successful parenting, exhausts you by lunchtime and drives you to drink, curse and throw things. Ok, I may have done those things pre-kids, but it’s more frequent now. Once I lay her down in her crib for the night (after saying a quick prayer that tonight isn’t the night she climbs out and finds the knife drawer) I plop down on the couch and breathe a huge sigh of freedom and relief. I’m off duty! And then I smell her on me … and I miss her. I do believe God takes these difficult ones to a whole new level of edible cuteness as a survival mechanism though. So there’s that.