Thursday, November 10, 2011

Living with children

You always hear about the exhausted years of parenting babies and toddlers... Even if you don't have kids, it's easy to imagine life with babies and toddlers. You're sleep deprived, covered with spit up, changing (and, if you're like me, washing) dirty diapers, you own every child proofing device known to man in order to try to maintain some hold on sanity, and you have a little velcro monkey attached to you all the time...

As they get older, much of that just magically dissolves into the ether, pushed back to the back of your memory like the vestiges of a bad dream.  You know, the ones you wake up from remembering that something disturbing happened but not quite recalling the details?  That's what it's like when your babies outgrow babyhood and toddlerhood.  You know it was challenging and there were bad days, but you somehow don't recall most of the details.  

Ah, but then... 

Then, you're living with these little people.  They become little invaders; they live in your house, they eat your food without permission, they invade you head and take away your ability to form a complete thought, they force you to become a referee, they make new kinds of messes... sports equipment, dance gear, school work, craft projects... When they're babies, quiet is good.  Quiet means sleep.  When they're older, quiet just means trouble. You walk into your kitchen and realize that you've either been visited by a flock of evil fairies... or your 8 year old daughter did a "project" with glitter without asking and then just walked away, seriously believing that you might not notice that she spilled gold glitter... everywhere (not just in the kitchen anymore, because the dogs have helpfully tracked it all over the rest of the house).

Having older kids means never having paper in the printer when you need to print something.  

It means that all of the envelopes in your blank envelope box are either gone or have writing on them.  

It means that a roll of scotch tape will not last more that about 6 hours in your house; then, it either mysteriously disappears or, better yet, gets put back in the drawer empty of actual tape.

Living with older kids means you can never find the scissors, even when you label them with "MOM" and say don't use these, they're mine.  You'll find them in a child's room later, and you'll ask the (rhetorical?) question why?? Why did you take theses when they have my name on them?  See right here, where they say MOM...? To which your ever-so-witty offspring replies, Oh, that's what that says!  I thought it said WOW! these are great scissors. Sorry.  I know you think you're funny, but you're not.  Not when I just spent 15 minutes hunting for a pair of scissors.  

Living with older kids means coming up with super secret hiding places for batteries.  Batteries become a scarce commodity.  Watch your remotes and other electronic gadgets, because if they can't find the new batteries, they're more than happy to divest your devices of their slightly-used-but-still-RC-car-worthy batteries.  

Living with older kids means that your socks no longer belong to you.  It's so much easier for them to take your clean socks than it is for them to remember to put their dirty ones in the hamper so that that they, too, might actually have clean socks.  

Living with older kids means nothing is going to be where you left it.  It means that you might actually find yourself calling the school and having them pull your child out of class to come to the phone so you can ask him where he put your car keys when he got his shoes out of your car that morning.  

Living with older kids means you hear the most unexpected (and unwanted) exclamatory statements: Mom, Cole's been eating Halloween candy and stuffing it down the bathtub drain! I just found 3 wrappers in the hole! 

Living with older kids means that cleaning can only happen when they're not around, otherwise you're just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Ah, but then again...

Living with older kids means that you have built in helpers and fetchers.  Why do I always have to do this? To which you get to reply: Because I carried you inside my body for 9 months, now it's your turn to do something for me.  Thanks, move along now.  

Living with older kids means getting to share your favorite books.  Right now we're reading A Wrinkle in Time (mom and girl child), Bridge To Terabithia (dad and girl child), Hunger Games (mom and boy child), and The Hobbit (mom and kids on audiobook).  

Living with older kids means the you get to dance around the kitchen before school singing Brass Monkey, because they know all the words.  

Living with older kids means you get to see the best and the worst of yourself reflected back to you.  

Living with older kids means getting to watch them grow and learn and experience the world, and sometimes you want to just smack them upside the head and say all at once, Would you please just shut up a minute so you can see I'm trying to offer you the world on a platter? I'm trying to teach you and help you and be there for you because I want what's best for you even though you make me a crazy person and I love you, can't imagine life without you, because it's fascinating to watch you grow into people before my eyes so gimme a break for a minute so I can show you what a cool thing this is we have here and I know you can't understand now that I'm sometimes meaner than I wanna be, I swear, but I promise you're gonna thank me for it later.  

Before I finished writing this post, I found an empty AAA value package on the floor next to my bed. This was a package I was hiding in my nightstand that was unopened (I thought). One of them apparently found it, used it repeatedly until it was gone (while managing to put it back where it was hidden each time), and then blatantly dropped it on my bedroom floor. I found it, and in my head I heard, You only thought you were hiding them. Try again, bitch.

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