A plea for sleep

Dear goddess of babies who wake every two hours:
Thank you for passing my child off to the next goddess. I appreciate your care in those first weeks. I don’t miss you. I’m sure you understand.

Dear goddess of babies who wake every three hours:
We’ve spent a lot of time and effort with my children, oh goddess. My first child was in your care for three-plus years before you handed him over to the goddess of children who sleep all night. So I’m thinking you need a break. You’ve had responsibility for my second child for nigh on five months, and I’d like to ask that you relinquish him to the goddess next door. I know he visited with the goddess of babies who wake every five hours a few times last month, and you can see he did fine there. Your extra care and nurturing should be for newer babies who need the extra milk. Bring him next door, please.

Dear goddess of babies who wake every four hours:
Please don’t be home when your neighbor, Three Hours, comes knocking.

Dear goddess of babies who wake every five hours:
I’m calling on you, oh goddess because your wonderful, growth-inspiring nurturing is just what my son needs. Keep your eye out for Three Hours and greet her if Four Hours isn’t home. Please accept the care of my dear baby. Please watch over him and let him sleep, uninterrupted, for five hours twice a night. Help him grow and develop in whatever ways are right for him.

Unless you’re caring for too many wonderful babies. Then pass him on to the goddess of children who sleep all night. I won’t tell Three Hours, who seems to have taken a shine to my whole family. He’ll be fine with All Night and I’ll be over the moon. False idols, nothing, I’ll create a whole shrine to you.

Twilight zone parenting

You know the ads make it look so cute. Babies make every scene adorable. Preschoolers make every moment lovable. Together they warm hearths and hearts.

So I was in potential heaven this weekend. In the kitchen, baking my favorite chocolate cake recipe for my mom’s birthday, listening to “Wait…Wait…Don’t Tell Me” on the radio. Gorgeous day outside, decent night of sleep…you get the picture.

Except that at each key moment in the broadcast, Peanut pushed a button on some infernal singing toy that blasted crappy kids’ music over the top of a clever and topical NPR rejoinder. And each time I measured and poured, the baby nursing in my sling reached out of his faux sleep to grab a fistful of goop.

The zen that used to be cooking, as most parents can attest, is now the zen of cooking and listening and showing and sharing and cooking and observing and correcting and cleaning and cooking and listening and ignoring and pretending and listening and watching and for god’s sake not blinking and sighing and listening and explaining and spilling and cursing and apologizing and crying and drinking.

Or something like that.

Ode to Six Months

Oh, how I love this age.

The excitement of being able to follow a pointing finger. The thrill of having clean sheets flapped over your delicious little head. The shock of new flavors as you finally get to taste those things other people eat.

The sitting, the rocking on all fours trying to crawl, the babbling, the laughter, the unadulterated joy of bathtime, the more deliberate efforts at making needs known…and the cuteness. Oh, my the cuteness.

Ah, six months.

Even the hard bits are easy because this age is so wonderful. Six months was a welcome eye in the storm with Peanut that allowed me to appreciate him rather than constantly struggle to keep from drowning.

And Butter is just as delightful at six months, which reinforces how much I adore this age. He won’t play alone much, but he will sit on the kitchen floor and play with his dearest love—the metal colander—long enough for me to chop one vegetable. That’s more than I could chop for the first five months of his life. He doesn’t sleep well because he’s teething, but he’s awake a lot less than Peanut was through his teething year. Butter has such a temper, and its perfectly adorable because what he gets mad about, usually, is gravity. And what fixes is it cuddling me.

Sign me up, six months, for I’m willing to accept those terms.

Dear, sweet six months. No separation anxiety yet. No social frustrations yet. No struggle to individuate. Yet. No talking, no walking, no chasing the cat, no refusing to do what Mama asks, no hitting, no coloring the carpet, no whining, no demanding, no slamming doors. No nuances. Six months is just adorable, cooing, babbling, drooling, nuzzling infant perfection.

Gotta go. Teething means he’s up every hour all night the past two nights. Isn’t that adorable?

Parenting FAIL

Every stinking night my kid walks out of his room well after bedtime and tells me his foot hurts. And every stinking night I feign concern and get him an ice pack. He puts it on his foot in bed and comes out twenty minutes later to hand over the now-warm bag of rice he made at school and colored and sewed himself.

Tonight he came out two minutes after the ice pack and said it’s not cold enough.

I said, calmly and firmly: “Go tell Daddy. I don’t care.”

So maybe I get an F for parenting tonight. Or maybe he gets an F for being an intense kid. Because his nightly fake sore foot is not responding to the nightly effective treatment, so maybe he’s not pretending hard enough. Or he’s pretending too hard. It’s my job to prepare him for the real world, right? Let’s call this a referral to a specialist.

So grades have been submitted but changed with permission of the Dean. Peanut gets the F. I get a well deserved drink.
Or a block of parmesan cheese.
Or pretzels and ice cream.
Or all four. Nothing like a healthy eating FAIL to go with the rest of the week.

Where does he get this?

If any of you are responsible for the following, please let me know. You’re not in trouble. I just have no idea from whence sprang these delightful additions to his four-year-old repertoire:

“Mama, want to see my new axe?”
“You have an axe?”
“Yeah! Come on!” He takes me to the living room where he upends his scooter, spins the front wheel and holds a one-inch plastic firefighter hatchet to it.
“I just need to sharpen it so I can you.”

In the middle of a conversation, he checked his naked wrist and said, “If you’ll excuse me I have to catch a bus.”

He has proclaimed that we need to play “Safety!” From what I have gathered from days of changing rules, safety means we need to rescue something. From imminent danger. Often by squirting pretend poison on it. Maybe it should be called “Safety: as seen from the quarterback’s perspective”?

I’m pretty sure the preschool isn’t modeling axe sharpening. Squirting poison to save something is not in any of our books. And I genuinely can’t remember the last time I excused myself from a conversation to catch a bus.

Where is this kid getting this stuff? I don’t even have tv as an excuse. His British accent is from Kipper. His Southern accent is from a trip to his great aunt’s. But wtf is up with the grinding stone, poison-based rescue, and interrupting bus schedule?

In which I whimper “Uncle”

Despite an almost four year track record of ink only on paper or skin, in compliance with my simple request—oft repeated and carefully monitored—there’s blue marker on my favorite couch pillow. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There’s blue marker on my favorite silk headband. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There’s blue marker on the carpet. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There are long artistic streaks of blue marker on the backside of the curtains. A lot. It’ll come out. If it doesn’t, they’re cheap and replaceable. And it’s hidden.

The bigger problem is thathis was all before 7am. And then there was a relatively quick oil change at a creepy oil change chain with a tiny, depressing waiting room…jiffy, even—for an adult. But for a four-year-old it was enough time to go through all the toys, books, and snacks I brought then use coffee stirrer after coffee stirrer to spit at Mama and torment strangers and climb on the checkwriting counter and invent new songs and sing them loudly, then quietly when asked, then loudly, then quietly when asked, then loudly, then quietly when hissed at, then loudly until they called our name.

And then there was the supermarket where there was pushing the cart too hard and pulling the cart too fast and running off and responding to gentle and to polite and to clenched teeth and to threats all the same. Begrudgingly, nastily, saucily. And temporarily.

When told he would fall if he climbed on the side of the cart, he got off. When told again, and given a brief reminder about balance and gravity, he got off. When told again, he got off. And when I turned my back to load items onto the conveyor belt of “almost-done-thank-you-lord”-ishness, he tipped the cart, and I caught it with one arm just before it crushed him, righting the cart and wrenching my back all with baby strapped into the wrap on my chest. And I almost cried.

I told you. I told you. I ask everything politely and gently the first time. Second time. Third time. A million times a day you disregard and refuse and ignore and refute and sass. I still don’t know why you don’t listen. I mean…you do, then you don’t. It seems to go beyond the developmentally appropriate hear only what you like. And you totally deserve for that thing to fall on you. I hurt myself helping you. I daily hurt myself trying to help you.

And it doesn’t seem to matter. Whatever you want you do. Whatever I say you don’t want to do and you don’t do. You hit me no fewer than twenty times today just trying to leave school at the same time we always leave school.

I’m so sick of this. I’m done.

Except I can’t be.

This is the only job on the planet you can’t quit.

Graduate seminar in toothbrushing

Oh my god with the toothbrushing. Why, why, why is this such a chore?

We’ve been brushing teeth with Peanut for four years and two months. And we have tried the following tricks, in order, to win over a resistant child:

1. brush his teeth hanging him upside down
2. sing a song while brushing
3. get a flashing firefly toothbrush
4. brush like animals (elephant brushes slowly and heavily, hummingbird quickly and lightly, platypus changes each time because what the f*%#?)
5. you brush then we brush
6. count teeth while we brush
7. tell a long story while we brush
8. play red light, green light dance-style while we brush (green light, you dance while I brush; red light you stop while I brush the tough parts)

And I swear to his future periodontist, I’m gonna let these baby teeth fall out of his head before I invent another game to get these stupid, no-good, replaceable, temporary, cookie-begging teeth clean.

Sure, offer your tricks below. Please. But I can’t pretend I have the energy for anything really creative, so skip the eighteen-part games even if you swear by them. Simple, please. Be gentle with me.

Baby Steps

SO I told you about renewing our efforts to parent gently and patiently. With empathy. Sans coercion.

Oh my god, it worked. One day, one incident, but it worked.

I picked him up at the preschool the other day and he was, as I arrived, kicking his best friend in the head. Yup. Glorious. Exactly what I was looking for in a carefully and thoughtfully parented child. A teacher was handling it so I took a breath and waited for him. Another parent told me he’d had a rough day. I wanted to read him the code of “we don’t hurt people” but I fought the urge. Someone had already done that.

So I asked what was going on. I got nastiness and barking and snapping. I breathed. We collected his lunchbox and shoes. I asked about his day. Barked nasty snapping. I asked what he wanted for snack. Snapped nasty barks. He had a cut over his eye and I asked how it happened.

“Nothing. My eye just comes this way,” he snapped.
“Honey, that looks like it hurts. Does it?”
“NO!” he barked. “This is how my eye always comes.”
I looked at him, buckled his seat belt and wordlessly, gently, closed the car door. I took a breath in my patented breathing machine (the slow walk around a car when the children are locked inside it).

By the time I sat in the driver’s seat, he said, “Fine, I’ll tell you.”

“In the morning Casey did something not nice—he took from me when we were playing Zingo—and I went away from him to play with Miles but we were playing and [he starts crying] I tried to go in the tunnel but I hit my head and hurt my eye and I didn’t like the snack and nobody was there to kiss my sore and I didn’t have any extra long pants I only had short pants for when I got muddy!”

I looked at him in the mirror. “Babe, that sounds just awful. Do you need a hug?”

He was sobbing by now and sputtered out a “yeah.”

I stopped the car and got out, walked around to his side, opened the door and kissed his eye. I hugged him. He cried. And I told him about how some days nothing goes right. I bit back the urge to talk about Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Because some days you don’t want to hear about that. Even in Australia.

But what you do want to hear, when you’re an ass to your friend and your teachers and your mom, is that some days are like that. It’s not that you are a nasty person. It’s the days, hours, minutes that suck. Not you, little guy. It’s not you.

(Only because it was so out of character. If I saw this kind of nonsense all the time, we’d talk about a new way to roll with this behavior. But because I took a breath and a step back and didn’t correct him or diagnose him or try to fix him, he let his guard down and let me see the tiny little vulnerable dude inside. Oh, now that’s the dude I can help. And maybe one day, he’ll help a little vulnerable dude, too.)

Open Letter to Alfie Kohn

Dear Mr. Kohn,

I finally read Unconditional Parenting, which was recommended more than a year ago by a mom I really dig. At the time I was too busy to read it, and we were doing pretty dang well with the whole “respect kids don’t dictate to them; give them choices and empathy” stuff. I prioritized other work because I didn’t need your book at that moment.

Except that I did, because pretty soon after I put your book in my online shopping cart as a reminder to eventually read it, he turned Three.

All our parenting techniques went out the window as we fought to figure out how to get through each day. We started listening to those voices from family and friends who told us to take a harder line; as he got more out of control, we tried harder to control him. We tore out our hair and bookmarked the gypsies’ “going rates” page, and I cried almost every night in exhaustion and rage and terror at the creature who replaced the child we had parented so carefully. We drew the boundaries more tightly and he acted, predictably, as though the walls were closing in on him.

We barely made it out of Three alive. It took everything we could muster to survive. But unfortunately it meant we went from working with to doing to our son. And now that we’re coming out we know we’ve lost our way.

So thank you for the reminder that kids who are given firm rules and punished into following them misbehave just as often as children who are given respect and choices. And that those children who are treated as decent humans turn out to be just that.

Thank you, too, for the reminder that focusing on our long-term goals means both boys need to make as many decisions as possible now so they’re practiced in making good decisions later. That if we want to learn to influence them, we can’t coerce them. Not just because it’s demoralizing but because it doesn’t work.

Thank you for making me write down what I value so I’d remember that if I want these young humans to grow up and stand up for what’s right—to question repressive rules and fight for what’s important—they have to do it now. Gulp. With our structures (which are now more reasonable, generally created with his participation, imposed only when necessary, and flexible).

I feel more in control now that I’m not controlling. My son feels less caged and cornered and is a lot nicer to be around.

And we’ve redoubled our efforts to find an elementary school that refuses to create an environment where punishment and reward teaches kids only to obey, to do things for what their actions will get them rather than how their actions affect others.

Thank you for getting us back on track toward unconditional love and respectful, flexible, mindful parenting.

—The Calmer, Gentler NaptimeWriting Family

P.S. Dearest readers: don’t worry. The snark doled out weekly for most of the residents of this planet remains in all its bloggy goodness. There are only two mushy little dudes who get the aforementioned awesome me. The rest of you get the worn little nubbin that’s left after all the patient, respectful, engaged, long-term-focused defaulting to yes stuff.

Now THIS I could get used to…

Peanut was sick today. Poor lamb. Went to school but had them call me an hour in because he wanted his Mommy. Brought him home and he spent all day on the couch, quietly, after telling me “no t.v. because I just need to settle down.”

So he ate quietly at dinner, crawled into his jammies while Butter had a bath, and waited politely for stories. Butter fell asleep during storytime, Peanut didn’t battle us over anything. After bathroom and teeth and songs, he went sweetly to bed. Butter woke up to nurse one last time before…well, before the next time…and I asked Peanut if I could nurse the baby on his bed.

Sure.

So I sang to both boys as I nursed the tiny one. I told the older boy stories about when he was a baby. I changed Butter, put him to bed, and closed the door on two adorable, sweet, quiet, sleepy, well loved children.

Internet: if this was our night every night, I would have dozens of children. I’m not saying I want easy kids, because easy kids scare me. Spunky children plus supportive family equals interesting grownups.

But seriously, I could take one of these nights every week without being worried. As it is, this is a semiannual event. At best.

The tragedy of Netflix

Oh, streaming movies from Netflix is delightful. Spouse and I stream films the one or two nights a month we can find time beyond dishes and errands and food prep. And I found for Peanut both Kipper and Pingu for his movie day, thanks to the recommendations of readers who know my feelings about non-violent, non-menacing, non-commercial age-appropriate, limited-length DVDs.

Movie Day once a week means Shower Day for Mama Naptime. (Yes, that means most other days may not include showers. Show me the mother of small children who showers regularly and I’ll show you a woman with child care or a partner who is home during daylight hours.)

Movie Day with the DVD player also means Peanut gets the remote and watches, pauses, goes to the kitchen to eat a snack, comes back, watches, pauses, runs around, watches, pauses, snacks again, pauses, goes to the bathroom.

And that’s where the tale of Netflix’s wonderment goes horribly, horribly wrong. The remote does not work on streaming Kipper. Peanut is not allowed to touch the computer. Peanut cannot, therefore, stop streaming Kipper and life as he knows it comes to an end when nature calls.

P: Mommy! Mommeeeeeeee!
M: [soaped and NOT leaving the shower unless someone is on fire] Come on in here, Peanut. I know why you need me.
P: MOM! [crying] I need you. I need YOU!
M: Pea, come here.
P: [screaming, crying]
M: Peanut, I know Kipper won’t stop and I can fix it.
P: Mom, I have to go potty and Kipper won’t stop. IT WON’T STOP! [scream in rage, fear, and helplessness. piercing scream. new scream. painful scream.]
M: Peanut, come into the bathroom.
[he does, crying]
M: Honey, I know Kipper won’t stop. That makes you sad.
P: [sobbing]
M: Honey, go potty while I tell you how I’m going to fix it.
P: [sobbing louder, stis]
M: Honey, the remote doesn’t work on the computer. Kipper is playing from the Internet to the computer and the buttons you have don’t work.
P: [nodding, crying]
M: And that makes you so sad.
P: [sobs]
M: I know it’s sad, babe. You’re disappointed. But Peanut? I can fix it. I can make Kipper stop and go back.
P: [sobbing]
M: Honey, I can make Kipper go back so you don’t miss any of the new Kipper.
P: But it won’t stop.
M: Honey, I can make it stop and I can make it go back. I will fix it. You won’t miss any Kipper.
P: [crying]
M: Peanut. Take a deep breath. You’re sad. I will fix it.
P: [crying, wiping eyes]
M: I will fix it, babe.
P: [crying, washes hands, goes back to living room, and I thank heavens, again for Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. And as he continues to cry, I wonder if the empathy can stop in a while because, for crissakes, I said I could fix it and he needs only wait the ten glorious minutes I need to wash out the huge clumps of postpardum hair leaving my head in a fistful each hour of the day. ]

I rewound the playback to the exact moment he told me tragedy struck. And he watched the rest of the movie, scarred for life and terrified of ever needing to go to the bathroom again.

Thanks for the tragicomedy, Netflix.

Why Parents Hate Parenting

Oh, boy. There are a big steaming bundle of quotes in this New York Magazine article on the huge pile of crap that is contemporary parenting. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

Did someone say their emotional life is “a high-amplitude, high-frequency sine curve along which we get the privilege of doing hourly surfs”?

Yes, yes she did.

Did somebody remind us of the research that shows “Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so”? Yup. Same article.

Hmm. “As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns,” you say? Tell me more. Despite believing firmly in attachment parenting, in offering a supportive, firm, and respectful environment, despite being on top of the current child development research on how discipline means teaching and therefore must be gentle, this article sings the refrain of how much parenting sucks.

The article mentions that people seem skeptical of this data, seem to pity those “for whom” this is true. Those must be the lying liars on facebook who claim life is always a bowl of cheesy-poofs.

Or, did I mention, they’re lying liars. Before Spouse and I had Peanut, my OB said, “avoid anyone who tells you parenting is bliss, wonderfully rewarding, or a blessing. Parenting is rarely joyful. Children can be delightful. Parenting is a hot steaming bowl of stress thrown on your favorite couch. While you’re on it.”

Some people, as one researcher notes, want children and think they’ll be happy, only to find that offspring “offer moments of transcendence, not an overall improvement in well-being.” The moments of bliss are opiate. And the rest of the day is 23.5 hours of drudgery.

Because, as the article quips, as industrialization led to sheltered childhoods (rather than apprenticeships and farm labor at a young age) children “went from being our staffs to being our bosses.”

I bristle at the suggestion that it’s organizing projects and scheduling children that makes parenting difficult. Luckily, the article clarifies that it’s actively paying attention to children rather than ignoring them that is so freaking exhausting. Soccer and ballet aren’t the problem. Knowing that discipline means teaching gently and consistently, listening and responding empathetically teaches emotional maturity, attachment leads to independence, and subverting your desires to help your children become model citizens is simply way more work than any paid job.

And this parenting job sucks the life out of parents who work at home or who work outside the home. “Today’s married mothers also have less leisure time (5.4 fewer hours per week); 71 percent say they crave more time for themselves (as do 57 percent of married fathers). Yet 85 percent of all parents still—still!—think they don’t spend enough time with their children.”

Not surprisingly, those societies (I’m looking at you, Holland) that value nurturing children, that pay for a parent to stay home with babies for over a year, that support breastfeeding, that pay for good education and health care, and that offer quality childcare to all workers means parents are less exhausted, stressed, and angry. “Countries with stronger welfare systems produce more children—and happier parents.” But we’re buying Baby Einstein crap instead of lobbying for social changes that will actually produce smarter, healthier, more self assured children.

This article makes me want to shake every person pining for a child and show them that: “Children may provide unrivaled moments of joy. But they also provide unrivaled moments of frustration, tedium, anxiety, heartbreak.” Parenting is not all buttercups and rainbows. And it’s not just the vomit and the late nights and the filthy carseats. It’s soul DRAINING, emotionally WRENCHING, personally EXHAUSTING bullshit day in and day out that leaves icky stains on life.

And yet we smile for the ten seconds each hour that our children are joyful, those crazy-making little monsters for whom we sacrifice what seems like everything.

Worth the co-pay

My first visit to the therapist this weekend resulted in this bit of wisdom:

All parents find that to be good—really good—at raising a child, some part of them needs to go underground. Some people let their hobbies go, some let their careers go, some let their marriages go. But something needs to give. Just be careful what you sacrifice because the stuff that gets pushed underground may never come back up.

Damn. That was totally worth the $20.

Because for the first three years of Peanut’s life, I thought that I had closed all the doors to my future. Instead of choosing what went subterranean while I made the sacrifice to parent full time, I shovelled everything under. I was not willing to choose a few thing to die so the other bits could thrive. I just jammed it all in a box labeled: Do Not Open until 2011.

But framing the choice I’ve made in terms of pushing a few priorities to the back burner and shoving some effectively off the stove and into the trash is enlightening. I knew I wanted to fill each hole that arose as my family grew less and less needy with bits of me that I had stuffed in that box. But I didn’t (and don’t yet) have a plan for what comes out when. Just bringing dribbles of *everything* whenever there’s a spare moment will not work. I need to make room in the fridge and bring myself back a gallon at a time.

So I’m going to spend the next few weeks thinking about what I’m willing to toss, what I want to keep on hold, and what could slip back into my life, in one gulp not tiny sips, so I’m more of a person than I’ve been for a while.

What are you letting go underground while you do your most important work, and what are you carefully guarding and tending so it won’t get buried as you do your “have to” and “should”s?

Moment of clarity

I’m having a tough time accepting a lot about my life—that the novel is still not published, that my PhD is still a distant dream, that two totally awesome and timely journal articles are languishing at 95% complete and not yet submitted, that Spouse and I are destined to be poor…

And that my eldest is testing out being the school’s resident a–hole.

This troubled me for several weeks, hearing about the times he had to be separated from his partner in crime, stifling my horror as he tells me of his antics, wondering if I wasted my time being so carefully respectful and gentle and loving and patient. If he’s going to throw sand in the face of the sweet and shy one at school, why did I try so hard to do everything thoughtfully, mindfully, and (what I now consider) self-effacingly? Why not actually lock the door when I pee, or shower regularly, or say no to playing with him, or negotiate a little less if he’s going to be antisocial and embarrassing?

And I asked another parent at school, tearfully, “is my kid an a–hole?”

He said something I really appreciated: “No, he’s usually sweet and he’s doing some awful stuff. But that’s his job. Now, my kid’s an a–hole.”

Not true. But I realized we all see things in our children we don’t like, that the socialized side of us wants to just beat right out of them, and the kid side of us wants to run from. The preschool dad who talked to me has a child with some unsavory characteristics sometimes, who is not an a–hole. My kid is trying out some awful behaviors to get attention and see the responses, but he’s not an a–hole. What he is, is different than me and separate from me. We’re now walking that thin line where it’s my job to teach him what’s okay, and it’s his job to choose the okay over the not-okay.

I thought about it, and Super Cool, Sweet, Awesome Lady X at school has a child who is genuinely an a–hole. Sometimes. And another child who is delightful. Mostly. And neither is her fault. And the total a–hole parent at school has a kid who is generally okay. And that’s clearly not due to parenting.

You do what you can and try your best, but some of your child’s behavior has nothing to do with you. (Yes I knew that, but now I have to repeat it more often than “please don’t pick up trash from the street.”) As I try to let Peanut separate and become his own person, I need to stop being embarrassed and realize that he is, in fact, his own person. And he’s four. And if he’s hated that’s his problem and if he’s loved it’s his problem. And all I can do is give him what I can to help get him through. He has to do the rest.

And damned if that isn’t the hardest part so far. Because from this side of the preschool fence, that adorable and feisty and opinionated and persistent and intense child is sometimes miraculously delicious, and sometimes a giant a–hole.

Wanted: job share

This is way, way too much work for one sane person, so I’m seeking another to share the work. Here’s how the breakdown of how my proposed job share will go:

Both halves of the job share team will be creative, goofy, intelligent, patient, well read, loving, gentle, and sassy.

My half of the job will be to enjoy my children. To revel in their originality, listen intently to their stories, marvel in their creativity, laugh at their jokes, enjoy their antics, celebrate their achievements, cheer their efforts, foster their explorative natures, and build their self esteem, language, and knowledge. I will specialize in games, projects, smiles, and wonder.

Your half of the job will be to handle the actual parenting. To correct behavior, to guide impulses, to direct aggression and anger into positive outlets, to offer alternatives to batshit insane ideas, to anticipate and divert meltdowns, to gently socialize without fundamentally changing them, and to clean up all discharge. You will specialize in gentle discipline, positive reinforcement, and patience.

I will write novels and articles when I am not enjoying these delightful little creatures.

You will cook and clean whether or not they are being delightful.

I will get all their best moments, their hugs and kisses, and their adoration.

You will get the tantrums, the whining, and the age-appropriate bullshit (i.e., hitting, screaming, lying, swearing, and pouting).

I will celebrate them.

You will socialize them.

Please send applications to Naptime Writing c/o the unicorn right next to you.