“Hello??? Is this thing on? … Weren’t the exact same words coming out of my mouth, like… maybe six minutes ago?”
Which type of parenting repetition might I be referring to currently? Because this could in fact be a repetitive daily piece. Many many many aspects of parenting seem to involve repetition.
Well, one that has driven me nutso is in attempting to teach the littles things like manners, safety, hygiene, nutrition, … Huh… it’s possible that everything we are “supposed” to teach our kids might fall under the “little things” category.
Listen. You know how every time since they were teeny when your kid said “mee”, or later “mewk”, then “mewlk”, “milk”, “me milk”, “milk Mom”, “me want milk”, “I have milk”, “can I have milk”, “give me some milk”, “milk now”, ET CETERA you have always patiently responded “Don’t forget your manners sweetie” or “Can you say that with a please?” And then they parrot back. Almost always, they can and do do it. (Unless they are three.)
Or every time you walk down the sidewalk and they dart back and forth towards the road, then back behind you, then into oncoming bikes and strollers and around willy nilly, much much faster than you can change your momentum and you explain that they need to stay safe by holding your hand or walking right beside you? They can do it. (Unless they are two).
Or you tell them, “You just have to lean forward, just lean forward a little bit more because then mommy doesn’t have to clean the pee driblets off the rim of the seat and the fucking floor again this morning, okay honey?” Just kidding, but seriously, they can DO it. As long as you can catch one second of their cat-like eye contact and thereby get a 20% chance of legitimate focus, it can be done. I’ve seen it a zillion times. But they don’t do it next time. They don’t. Ever. Right?
So why am I wasting my breath with this crap? Why don’t I just make him some damn pesto noodles every time he doesn’t want to try what’s actually for dinner? Why don’t I just let him push in front of all the other kids to be the first to get the sticker from the library story lady? Or just take it when I’m told “No” it turns out I don’t know the rules of Chutes and Ladders and one can actually move to the bottom of any ladder no matter what number is spun (unless you’re the mother)?
Because I think, somewhat unfortunately (I haven’t completely decided) this might be how learning these things works. Last week when Little stepped into the bathtub with one foot still on the mat and the other going directly into the tub instead of stepping onto the rim and launching himself into the water superhero style, I thought “He probably wouldn’t have done that if we hadn’t reviewed that particular bathtub safety issue the last 189 baths since I stopped lifting him in myself.” He’s done it THREE times now. Three baths in a row he has safely entered the tub and, not to brag, but exited as well. He might have this one. Or yesterday I overheard him politely telling Littler “You can play that, but I get to make my own decisions and I don’t feel like doing that right now.” I raised my palms to the heavens and let out a vibrato inspired “Aaaaahhhhh”. Hallelujah.
Maybe it all does come together eventually, but if you don’t bother, if you don’t go through those first 189 times, you might miss out on what happens after #190… Maybe?
(Originally posted April, 2014)