A Whole New World

I have to admit: I’m confused.

The topsy turvy sensation of new parenthood, of everything taking an extra hour because of a newborn’s needs for swaddling and nursing and diaper changing and napping and…that feeling is long gone. I’ve ditched the diaper bag. I always have snacks and crayons. I’m still not in my element, and it all feels like being in a foreign land, but I know about how long it takes to get the small people in my charge ready.

It takes a long damned time.

I learned pretty quickly that, to get a school-age child and a toddler in my house somewhere on time, I have to start the “we have to leave soon” announcements a full thirty minutes before we need to go. Apparently, dressing, brushing teeth, grabbing a lunch bag, putting on shoes and hat, and checking for a jacket takes my children longer than it takes to pass a Constitutional Amendment. (Like, say, for instance, a law overturning the Citizens United decision by making sure people and corporations can’t buy elections. Perhaps.)

But this week I’ve been shocked by the speed with which my offspring are out the door. Two days in a row, I issued the “we have to go NOW” announcement with fifteen minutes remaining on the oh-my-gawd-how-do-we-do-this-every-day clock. The toddler checked the weather and declared no coat. The six-and-a-half double checked and declared it was freezing and he needed his jacket. They both got shoes, sun lotion, lunches, and…holy crap, we’re ten minutes early.

I don’t understand. This process worked for a year. Has gravity reversed itself? Do we live in a wormhole? Is the time-space continuum not continuing?

Why?

Because Butterbean loves preschool so much he fights getting ready less than he used to? I doubt it. He still refuses and stalls and asks for “one moe meedee” of naked dance time. (Green Day, Diana Krall, and Bee Gees, thanks for asking.) He still refuses shoes and screams about lotion. And the older one still needs several reminders and a relatively calm, “I’m getting angry. You can get ready now or I can put you in the car in what you’re wearing, but whatever you choose right this minute is your final answer.”

Is it possible I’m getting faster? That they’re getting faster? That Schrodinger’s Cat is helping them get ready while I’m not looking in the box?

Why?

Should I now prepare for five-minute departures and actually play with my kids, or do I maintain the twenty-minute prep phase, knowing full well that just as I get used to quick mornings both kids will get a case of the Eff Yous?

Maybe someone switched my decaf for full strength. Just saying.

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Breath held, eyes closed

When I ask you to do something and you’re willing, you sing back to me, “Oak-kay, Mommy Day!” A nicer song was never sung.

When I ask you to do something and you’re unwilling, you brace yourself, and enunciate each word, “Mommy, I heer jew. One meedee.” And usually, after that minute you comply.

You think it’s funny to say that your stuffed alligator says, “Meow.” And that your stuffed elephant says, “Meow.” And that your baby doll says, “Meow.” But you named them all “Poe.” I don’t understand you, kiddo. And I dig that about you.

When you want something right now, you tell me, “Mommy. Look me eye, Mommy.” It’s nice of you to tolerate me and to use such compelling ways to get my attention.

You spend a week or so screaming in desperate frustration any time your hands didn’t do what you wanted them to. I taught you to ask for help instead of screaming, and now you cheerfully bellow, “HELP, EVEEBODY!” when your train won’t work. Luckily for you, everybody hears you and everybody helps. Nice world, eh, buddy?

You ruin even the best jokes, friend, with your own favorite punchline. “Knock knock,” your brother and I begin. “Who’s there?” someone replies. “POOP!” you shout. Very funny. Very, very funny.

When your brother is mean you pull his hair. When he ignores you, you hit. When he yells at you, you bite. These are not okay, things, Butterbean. Angry is okay, hurting is not okay. That nonsense has to stop.

Thank you for saying “soddy.” It feels nice to hear a sorry.

It’s very nice of you to thank me for the things I do. It’s wonderful of you to use words and ask gently to have a turn. And yes, it’s kind of funny that you insist on locking me out of the car every chance you get.

I don’t know how I’m going to leave you at school tomorrow, sweet cream Butterbug. I know you’ll have fun and you’ll learn new things about how people are different but all like gentleness and kindness. I know you’ll be happy to see me when I come after lunch.

I just don’t know how I’ll do. Aside from the whole “allowing a thought to proceed to completion” thing I vaguely remember from before you and your brother were born.

I think I’ll be pretty much demolished without you. I’ve wanted some space from you since those days at three months that you just screamed yourself purple. But I’ve never followed through with it for more than an hour every six months because I just can’t take it. You’re too little, too sweet, too attached, too new.

You’re my guy. I love love love you. And I’ll come get you after lunch.

Okay, Butter Day?

Blue, cloudless sky

You wanna know how lucky I am? (Since I mostly post snark about loathing parenthood despite loving my kid, i figure today is the perfect reason to tell you why I totally lucked out, in spite of the whole “not  cut out for this job and seriously considering running away from home” technicality.)

In Trader Joe’s, which, in addition to tasty, affordable loveliness, offers kids stickers and balloons, and P was in fine form. “May I have a bar?” Nope. Already had one today. “Okay……May I have some juice?” Nope. Yesterday was juice day and you had lemonade at the party. “Yeah. That was good lemonade.”

He helps the checker by handing over groceries. She gives him stickers. “May I have one balloon?” Sure. We ask. They’re out of helium.

“Oh, bug, I’m sorry. They’re out of helium, the special air that makes the balloons.” Breath held, calm distractions planned, explanations of world and its unfairness and yet relative goodness calculated.

“Well. Stickers are nice.” Proceeds to decorate his shirt and mine with stickers.

Seriously, does it get any better than a three year old who can shake off balloonlessness?