If I had a dollar for every parent of a teenager who one -ups me if I complain about problems related to kids four years old and younger, I’d probably have enough for at least one large “Truck Stop” breakfast burrito at Boloco on a wheat wrap with salsa and a large coffee. (I’m addicted to those things.) The one- upper usually rolls their eyes and says something to the effect about how their kid doesn’t talk to them, never comes out of his/her room, plays video games for hours at a time, costs them so much money, blah blah blah.
My immediate reaction is “Hey wait a second here, I was complaining first and you just totally crapped on my pity party.” Then, I get even more pissed because they’re complaining about kids who 1) can talk 2) don’t have teeth coming in 3) don’t have ear infections on a weekly basis 4) don’t need asses wiped 5) can eat at a restaurant – okay I’ll stop there because this list could go on indefinitely and the point of today’s blog is not to complain. In fact, I’m trying to accomplish the exact opposite.
The one-upper is totally right. It’s all about perspective.
When I pull into the driveway after work, Greta will suddenly burst through the front door and come running up to meet me before I’ve even opened the trunk to get my gym bag. If I’m lucky, she gives me that great hug that my cousin Sean so perfectly described to me a few years ago.
If Greta closed the door behind her, Gus and Tilly are usually standing at the door like zombies from The Walking Dead clawing at the window and making weird groan noises. If Greta left the door open, Gus usually stumbles out because Tilly is pushing him from behind as he’s trying to negotiate that first step out of the threshold.
Once I get two steps inside the house, I ditch whatever bags I’m carrying and start emptying phones, receipts, keys (rarely cash) from my pockets. Greta strolls closely alongside me, which is nice because Gus and Tilly usually grapple like Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik for dibs on getting picked up.
My arms full with Gus and Tilly, Greta dominates the conversation (she currently has a monopoly on speaking in full sentences) with topics like: Gus scratched me in the eye; Tilly smashed a doll over Gus’ head; Mommy won’t give me an ice cream, can I have one?; did you hang up the Hello Kitty picture I colored for you at your office today?; Sam took me to the library today and we saw a turkey in the road, etc. In other words, she genuinely wants to share events from her day with me without my asking.
Somewhere along the way, THE WIFE and I exchange glances, hellos, and maybe a kiss. I express to the kiddos how I need to change out of my clothes. When I try to put Gus or Tilly down, they start weeping like their mother during an episode of Parenthood or sentimental videos on Youtube. I wilt almost immediately and just carry them upstairs with me to my bedroom. All the while, Greta marches dutifully next to me going on about the chicks that hatched in her classroom or asking me if she can wear her pajamas during dinner.
By the time I’ve stripped down out of the monkey suit, Gus or Tilly is usually prying an electrical socket out of the wall (I’m very much over this phenomenon and can’t wait for this to become uninteresting) and I’m jumping into preemptive hazard removal mode. Still, I remind myself – the kids just want to be near me – how lucky are you!?
Tonight, I actually took a dump while all three of the kids circled around me in the bathroom. Tilly even sat on my lap while Gus pointed at my penis saying “Pee pee.” I can say with absolute certainty that there are zero other people in the entire universe who want to be anywhere closer than 100 feet from me while I sit on the bowl. Inevitably, mayhem ensues when the cabinets and drawers open. A hair dryer’s electrical cord almost always ends up around someone’s neck and I’m suddenly shuffling with undies around my ankles over to rescue the victim.
Moving on, we somehow make it eventually to dinner, which is a whole situation unto itself. The probability of having all three kids actually placing food into their mouths with nothing flying in the air and not having a meltdown is as frequent as an eclipse. Chances are, someone is on a hunger strike or lobbying to eat Goldfish or yelling at the top of their lungs or spontaneously taking off their pants or all of the above.
With uncanny timing, THE WIFE (totally oblivious to the sensory overload enveloping me) usually picks this moment as the appropriate time to ask questions of varying import. Have I finalized a decision on a religious institution yet where Greta can go to Sunday school? Do I know where the obscure component to an item in the house that hasn’t been used in two years is located? Have I booked a hotel room yet for a wedding taking place in 2014?
All of this is simultaneously wonderful and awful and heartwarming and taxing and madness in the moment. But by the time the kids are finally fed, bathed, and sleeping in their beds, the chaos that was only an hour or so ago becomes mostly all good in retrospect.
Before another month goes by when I am ready to post my next blog, I want to take this moment to record a couple of my mental snapshots that could vanish without any notice.
I love the way that all of my little crazies sleep in their beds. Greta sleeps diagonally with a lucky stuffed animal in a choke hold beside her. G-man sleeps face down and butt up with everything tossed outside of his crib. Tills sleeps likes she is in zero gravity, moving around constantly and flipping out if a binky becomes misplaced, all while she has somehow unzipped her sleep sack.
And some random ones for the road. Tilly’s guilty run of glee after she’s been caught in the act of doing something she’s not supposed to. Gus’ proud celebration after he pees in the potty. Greta’s colored pictures on my pillow that I find before going to bed.