Parenting: A Surefire Guarantee Against Boredom

There are a whole lot of people out there who genuinely believe that once you have kids, your life gets “boring”. Obviously, these people have never spent any time with a 2-year-old.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things that definitely become more mundane when you have kids. Date nights consist of lounging on your own couch and praying that the kiddos stay asleep while you try to keep your eyes open long enough to finish the movie you rented from the Red Box at the local Walgreens. And the days of turning a rowdy 5-hour marathon of MarioKart into a margarita-guzzling, loser takes a shot drinking game have morphed into more of a have-a-beer-or-weak-cocktail-and-keep-an-eye-on-the-kids kind of evening.

But boring? No way. Life is anything but boring with kids in the house. In fact, I’m starting to believe that having a kid or two in the house is a surefire guarantee against boredom. I’d tell you about a “typical” day, but that’s damn near impossible. There’s no such thing as typical when kids are involved.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take today for instance…

Today’s craziness started just after breakfast this morning when Cadence decided to start jumping on the giant beanbag like it was a trampoline. We’ve been telling her to knock it off and be careful for weeks, but she doesn’t listen. Some days she even takes to divebombing onto the beanbag from the couch. Well, today her luck finally ran out. She stepped a little too close to the edge, and all of a sudden I watched her flip, head over heels, and fall face first off the back, cracking her face on her potty chair on the way down.

It took all of 1.3 seconds for me to jump out of my chair and pick her up, but of course she’d already begun to wail. She was more frightened than anything, and the tears didn’t last more than 30 seconds, but that was about the same time that her nose began to bleed. Three tissues and a few drops of blood on my shirt later, and all was right with the world again, just in time for Steven to come home for lunch.

After running a few errands and putting Cadence down for a nap, I thought the rest of the day might pass uneventfully.

There I go, thinking again.

Instead of napping, Cadence decided it might be fun to play around in her crib for an hour or two and fight sleep. Oh well, I didn’t mind. I spent the time listening to her chatter and catching up on some work. Finally, when the stench of a stinking diaper began to waft down the stairs, I went to get her up and changed.

The first thing I noticed (besides the acrid smell) was the fact that she appeared to be chewing on a large wad of gum. She complied when I asked her to spit the wad into my hand, and I discovered that it wasn’t gum at all, but a large ball of wet, slimy paper.

Nasty.

Then Cadence turned her head and I realized that it wasn’t just paper, it was the Miss Piggy sticker she’d been carrying around the house the past few days. Apparently, she’d smuggled it into her crib at some point and had spent the last hour carefully peeling the picture off the sticky backing. The picture had been shoved into her mouth and masticated to the point that Miss Piggy was now a slimy, colorless blob. And the sticky back? Well, that was now tangled in a mass of hair just above her right ear.

I stood  for a moment, trying to decide if Miss Cadence could actually rock a girlish mohawk, or if a pixie-style cut might be in order.

It took a few minutes of finagling, but I managed to get most of the paper backing out of her hair. The glue? That was another story.

She let me mess with it for all of five minutes before she got really mad and threatened to declare war. So, I let her go play, figuring Steven and I could tag team her when he got home.

Of course, at that point, I had to break out the camera. I mean, I’d already slacked off getting pictures of the bloody nose and the actual sticker chewing/wearing, so the least I could do was get a few shots of my little messmaker with a big wad of glue in her hair. Cadence refused to actually look at me while I took the pictures, except for the brief moment when she tried to do a Jedi Mind Trick.

“This is not the messy child you’re looking for. There is no glue in her hair.”

I swear, she almost got me. The Force is strong with this one.

So tonight, after a particularly messy dinner of spaghetti and a fudgecicle for dessert (why not, right? She was getting a shower anyway), I rubbed down Cadence’s hair with some olive oil and sent her off to shower. Then, after a thorough washing and combing, she was glue free once again, just in time for bed.

Thank goodness, because this Momma is exhausted.

And you know I better get to sleep because tomorrow is a whole new day full of fun and surprises.

Bring it on. 🙂

The Art of Raising a 2-year-old (and Surviving)

I think one of the biggest childrearing myths is what people refer to as the “Terrible Twos”.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the word “terrible” just doesn’t quite cover it.

Sure, it’s an extremely challenging age and the temper tantrums  can drive you to the very brink of insanity, but there are also moments of pure joy, lots of laughter, and days that I would like to freeze in time and replay over and over and over again.

Living with a 2-year-old is not terrible…well, not all the time. It’s sort of like finding an absolutely perfect little chunk of land–beautiful scenery, amazing neighbors, close to all of your favorite restaurants and entertainment–and then discovering that you just built your dream house on top of an active volcano. You have to be constantly on guard. There are always little fires to put out and, even on a good day, there is always the threat of danger lurking just beneath the surface.

See, the thing about 2-year-olds is that, at any other age, they would indisputably be diagnosed as suffering from a severe combination of multiple personality disorder, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, narcolepsy, obsessive compulsive disorder, anger issues, and narcissistic personality disorder. Hell, at any other age they would likely just be considered a danger to themselves and society and be locked up. They are little ticking emotional time bombs. One minute they’re bubbly and smiling and charming every person in the room with their sweetness. The next minute you’re wondering if you need to call a priest to perform an exorcism before the screaming little banshee who is now foaming at the mouth and writhing on the floor in front of you manages to scare any other shoppers out of the cereal aisle.

And all you can hope is that the employees watching it all unfold on the security cameras are having a good laugh at your expense.

Yet, in spite of the tantrums and the sudden emergence of the word “No!” at the top of my own personal Things That Piss Me Off the Most list, I have to say, 2 is a pretty cool age.

At this point, Cadence’s personality is absolutely her own, and it’s fun to watch her already beginning to carve her own little place in the world. She loves movies and can recite lines from her favorites. She loves baseball–watching the Mets at home with her Daddy and going to Husker games with her Grandma Jayne and Papa Duane. She’s fearless, spunky, and wickedly funny. Her Daddy taught her to fart and then point at someone else and say “You fart!” which she thinks is hilarious. And we think it’s hilarious that it’s now become “You stinky fart! Ewww!”

We can’t wait for the call we’re inevitably going to get from her preschool teacher for that one.

She’s also wickedly smart, which can be both a good and a bad thing since she’s still at an age where she lives purely by impulse instead of reason. She loves music and art. She loves to color and draw, and carries a notebook around with her to write in. She loves playing the piano and Daddy’s new practice drum kit. And she sings along to dozens of different songs. No Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Itsy Bitsy Spider for Cadence. She likes Sugarland’s Stuck Like Glue and Karmin’s Brokenhearted and the Family Guy theme instead. And these days, she’s got some pretty sweet dance moves these days, courtesy of watching Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights with her Momma and Daddy.

I’m slowly learning that this volatile stage of development  is just as important for parents as it is for the 2-year-olds themselves. See, it’s this point, during these Terrible Twos, that you are really molded into the type of parent you’re likely to be for the rest of your life. Are you going to pick your battles, or insist on always being right and having the last word? Are you going to let your children explore and fall down and learn from their experiences, or are you going to constantly hover and shelter them and tell them no. Are you going to worry and fret that the house isn’t spotless, or are you going to get down on the floor and play and make a few messes yourself? Are you going to let yourself get caught up in the tantrums and scream back louder, or are you going to take a deep breath, wait for the storm to pass, and help your children understand their sometimes overwhelming emotions? Are you going to hug and kiss and tell your children that you love them and that you’re proud of them every chance you get, or are you going to just assume that they know?

Parenting is trial and error. No one has the perfect answer. There is no handbook, no instruction manual, no magical formula that can guarantee you will all come out of it unscathed. But you can try. You can do your best. You can learn from the mistakes, and show your children that life is not about perfection. It’s about finding the beauty in the imperfections, and finding your own way in the chaos.

Here are just a few recent photos of my own little chaos maker…

Playing in the birdbath and helping Momma water flowers
Hiding from Momma’s camera and doing a little mowing.
Running! Running! Running!
Telling stories.