I used to think that once a person became a parent, they somehow became part of this secret society. A network of people; fellow parents who had your back in a time of need because let’s face it, parenting is anything but easy. Parenting is a battle and kids have a way of keeping you down in the trenches – always making you work hard with blood, sweat and tears. It’s nice to look up in a dire moment to see a stranger give that all assuring nod that you’ll be ok – an active member of the unspoken parent society. It’s the moment when both children are having a colossal tantrum in the shopping cart because both are sleep deprived and they can’t have the sugary cereal with the wild-eyed cartoon animal plastered on the front of the box. Meanwhile the exhausted parent discovers that she has been traipsing around town for hours with some unidentified dried food on her shoulder. This is the vision of parenthood. These are the moments that you can never foresee yourself having as an adult. You always think it will be different for you. It’s true, you will no doubt witness this at some point in your life and hopefully you’ll be the stranger who gives a gentle smile and nod in the direction of the poor soul who is questioning her/his sanity at that moment. These are the tough moments as a parent – being in public as your parenting skills are being tested for everyone to witness.
We’ve all been here before and surely other parents can relate because who has a perfect kid? Well, hold on to your seats because I met a perfect parent with a perfect daughter. She’s here in Dublin of all places, donning lightly worn sweatpants and a smile that would make Lucifer grimace. I already feel smarter and more enlightened for just having been in the vicinity of her. I happened to be at Target sans you and Olivia – a complete rarity. For a brief time, I got to take on the role of inconspicuous adult who may or may not have children. I happened to be in line with a Mother who was having a moment where I’m sure she was wishing she could lay down and die right there in the middle of the check-out aisle as all three children of hers were screaming their heads off in the cart. I consider myself a member of our unsung society so I gave her a reassuring nod that it’s ok – don’t worry about us strangers because that seems to be the thing that adds to the anxiety. Most parents can handle their kids throwing tantrums – it’s the judgment in public that’s enough to make your ass sweat profusely. I was fine with it and actually having been around you for two and a half years, I’m pretty much desensitized to crying and other annoying sounds.
I checked out with my gear and decided to indulge in a few more minutes to myself as I bought a coffee. While waiting in line, the self-proclaimed perfect Mother was in front of me, carrying on with the barista about that awful woman with the gaggle of children she couldn’t control and how dare she go out in public with children she can’t control. I knew this woman couldn’t possibly be a Mother because us parents understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect child. Babies be babies and they’re in the business of causing mayhem. She turned around to her friend and continued to verbally bash this poor stranger. She was talking loud enough that I sensed she was trying to create an uprising right there in the Target Starbucks against this poor woman who was in the middle of a very serious battle. . . and losing. I suddenly had a flashback to all 999 instances of you creating public disturbances and I suddenly found myself asking this woman, you’re not a Mother, are you? Much to my surprise, she said that in fact she has a three year old daughter and has never acted out. In her exact words, she’s very smart – she knows better. What a whore. Either she is not the primary caregiver and some Grandma is singing a different tune somewhere or she is in fact blessed with a “smart” child. I would like to tell you that I was a responsible adult in this instance, congratulated her and we went our separate ways. Instead I congratulated her and passed on my wish that one day her daughter become a teenage Mom. This may come back to bite me. . . So much for this unspoken society. Apparently this battle is worse than I thought and we really are on our own.
Please be an understanding stranger because you have been far from easy. You’re curious and independent which are lovely attributes for an adult, not so much for a two year old. You’re still very much trying to keep up with Olivia and her friends which often leaves you out of breath and with an exhaustive number of gashes on your knees. You are loud and physical which can be a problem when you’re in a quiet setting like the library or your sister’s music class. I try to be a mediator most times but there are plenty of moments where I’m beaten in to submission and I allow you and Olivia to have your very own tot fight club in the middle of the living room complete with bare upper torsos and loud music blaring in the background. It’s only irresponsible if I’m not in the room. I have a vague sense of what’s going on as I peer from behind my iPad every fifteen minutes or when I hear an exceptionally loud shrill.
Never has the phrase ‘pick your battles’ rang more true. Most things throughout the day can turn in to a screaming match with you. Part of letting you grow is to allow you to do things even if it’s not the correct way or completely safe for that matter. You and Olivia ride your scooters after dinner as an attempt by me to get you tired enough to fall asleep before 10pm. You two take off on your scooters and this leads to me chasing you both down while screaming your names. You both have learned to stop at a certain point right before the busy intersection. This still gives me heart palpitations but I’m trying really hard to allow you two to have fun and enjoy your scooters without thinking that every turn is a deathtrap. I think I’m roughly twenty percent effective at this.
We have a new neighbor, Daniel, who is from China and speaks very little English but he adores playing with you and Olivia. Since the only English he really knows is ‘hi’ and ‘bye,’ he just stands in front of our house and screams when he wants you to come outside to play. This is adorable except for the fact that he does this right at your bath time. I of course fail at trying to tell you that you can’t play but instead have the pleasure instead to go to your lovely warm bed that is awaiting your imminent return. I know, who can sleep when someone is standing outside of your bedroom window screaming? We understand he doesn’t no anybody and his Mom encourages him to play with you in an effort to better his English. Unfortunately, you two are exhausted having never been outside playing until 9:00 and this seems to be a growing trend. It’s not like we can send you two outside to play by yourselves as we kick our heels up with a glass of wine. We have to stay outside with you and monitor your every move. It’s a good thing we do because you and Olivia have a knack for just inviting yourselves in to people’s houses and not picking up on the subtle hints when you’ve overstayed your welcome. You’re still two years old – you would happily soil yourself in the middle of their dining room, leave a wet-spot and carry on without saying anything. I know some adults who would do that too but they’re inebriated and have health issues – you’re just lazy.
It was cute to watch the first few nights – all the kids converging in the court, running around and giggling. We’re a few weeks in and the cute factor has worn off and now it feels like a burden. Your Father and I are now at a point where we try to scheme how we can get out of our meetups in the court. The other night, we went out to dinner late thinking we could return unnoticed. Problem was when we got home, we discovered Daniel waiting in his upstairs patio eagerly awaiting our return. We park in the driveway so it’s not like we can make a stealth return in to the garage and quickly close the door behind us before he can get a scream in. You two now are aware of this new routine and anxiously await for dinnertime to come so you can play outside afterwards. This parenting thing used to be somewhat manageable when I knew I could put you down at a reasonable hour so that I could sit back and watch my crap television. Now I’m lucky if I can get in fifteen minutes of piano practice and watch one Real Housewives of OC episode. I’m warning you now, without my time at the end of the day, you could awaken a beast that has been sitting, waiting patiently at the surface. I strongly suggest you leave that beast alone.
You have been anything but easy but I can’t blame you – you’re a toddler. Toddlers are crazy little psychopaths with the only daily agenda of seeing how badly they can make their parents sweat. When you’re an adult, remember that you were far from perfect. Nobody is perfect and anybody who claims to be perfect is a murderer and you need to run in the opposite direction asap. Acknowledge those that are visibly trying but are clearly failing at life at that moment and if you’re feeling like an honest and good human being at that time, offer a hand. I still believe in the greater good of people but maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Be a part of the greater good. Prove to me that good still exists and if one day you meet a teenage girl who tells you a story about how a stranger bestowed a blessing upon her Mother that her own daughter become a teenage Mother one day, stop talking to that individual immediately and make a run for it because that will be Karma looking for me.
You, according to my phone: