Monday, July 25, 2011

The Greatest Parts

Parenting has to be the toughest thing I have ever tried.  I always thought my family was weird because we weren't like the ones on TV.  Now having tried so hard to be like the ones on TV, I know they're the weird ones.  A mom who only appears in the kitchen, perfectly dressed, to make some meal or another and smile beautifully while handing over some sort of sage advice to her son.  Babies who never need their diapers changed, never stay up late into the night screaming bloody murder because they don't want to go to sleep. Children or parents who appear and disappear with the scene change, only to conveniently reappear when absolutely necessary.  Sheesh.  I used to look at parents with toddlers and promise myself that I would never have that horrible harassed look on my face dragging a screaming kid through the mall.  I was half right.  I just have that horrible harassed look carrying her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

I thought kids listened. If you were a good attentive parent your child would learn to read, would listen well. I thought kids were born inherently kind hearted and good natured and that parenting is what made that difference.  HAHAHAHAHA. Apparently children have a will of their own.  I did not know.  Children will decide when they are cranky and when they are having a good day.  Their incoming teeth won't wait until a weekend to push through and keep you up all night.  Mostly they get sick just in time for whatever family event you have planned.  Not all children like swimming.  Not all children have the desire to learn to swim.  My daughter is so stubborn she lies about what she actually knows.  I catch her in this game when  accidentally correctly identifies the right letters when she forgets the little game she plays.  I have worried she has a learning disability for all the time we spend reading, counting, doing alphabets, but apparently she just doesn't want me to know she can do things herself.  She is a trickster. Too smart for her own good.  And it is my job to teach her to use her powers for good instead of evil.  It is my job to teach her kindness and how to be thoughtful. To chose a gift for another person that reflects that person's desires instead of her own. 

For me, parenting seems like forever pushing the rock up the hill just to watch it roll back down again.  My daughter is definitely my polar opposite.  I am quiet and studious, shy around new people, clumsy, and timid by nature.  I want desperately to please other people, cautious of outcomes, afraid of change.  My daughter runs to meet the world head on. She talks to everyone.  She craves constant attention.  She dislikes having to learn new things,  gets frustrated easily if something requires any attention.  Where I was reading at her age, she is pretending she doesn't even know her letters.  Absolutely refuses to count to twenty even if it means getting her very own pack of gum which she will later cry about not having.  And no amount of punishment phases her in the least.  She will put herself on time out for 45 minutes to not have to do a thirty second task.  Cut off her nose to spite her face.  Her will is strong, and I am forever at a loss.  By the time we get through this, she will be hitting puberty and that stone will be rolling right back down the hill.

But then there is that other side of parenting.  This tiny little person that says the cutest things, gives the sweetest hugs, throws elaborate parties for the honored birthday guest.   Precocious and sweet.  Some things are just so amazing they are etched in your memory for life. The first time your baby smiles at you.  Coming home from work and she crawls across the floor as fast as she can to get to mommy. The look of awe the first time she sees the fireworks in the sky.  Curling up next to you at night. There is really something magical about a teeny tiny person sleeping.  Coming to Mommy for hugs after her fist skinned knee. Watching her learn to pour her own juice, get a snack from the fridge, the look of shock when a firefly escapes her closed hands.  Those giant brown eyes gazing up at me.  I am such a sucker.  The special four year old girl songs that narrate the soundtrack of her thoughts.  "Milk is all whi-ite. Sometimes sometimes sometimes they are!"  Watching her learn the associations between events and reactions.  Learning the permanence of her decisions, often with giant soulful tears.  We play dress up and she puts eyeshadow on her feet and earlobes. She draws hundreds of pictures to make cards for a friend's birthday.  

And oh the things they say:
"And then I saw it!" Her eyes as wide as saucers. She points her finger at me, other hand on her  hip, leans forward just a little . . . "It was the Itsy. Bitsy. SPIDER!!!"
"Did it go up the water spout? Down came the rain, washed the spider out?"
Now she looks absolutely offended. "No! It was on the wall!"

I about fell over laughing.

She helps make cakes and cookies, she matches socks, and feeds the kitties. She chases fireflies and loves running around the back yard with sparklers.  She is cautious when I ask her to be gentle with something.  She stays out of the things she is not supposed to touch. She listens when I tell her it's too hot to touch.  She tries new things more often than not.  While she seldom behaves in restaurants, she is ALWAYS invited back to friend's houses.  She plays well with other kids and is a delight at daycare. 

We don't always see eye to eye, but she is my darling and my greatest adventure.   So I canceled my cable and quit trying to compare myself with sitcom house wife standards. We argue, we play, we love we grow.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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