The Mister and I enjoyed a plate of chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. There are four left. They are the crunchy-edged, undesirable cookies. We’ll let the girls eat those when they get home from school BECAUSE THEY ARE WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!
If you don’t have kids, this is probably just a phrase you hear parents toss around. I assure you, it’s not a simple phrase: it’s a way of life.
People are born needy, completely unreasonable, impulsive, clumsy, and gross.
We have good kids.
This means that in your company, they will say Yes Ma’am and No Sir, Please and Thank You, as well as being gracious enough not to climb on your furniture and bother your belongings.
This only applies to people who don’t live here, though, as they steal our shit all the time, and if left alone in a room long enough, are capable of turning it into a Cirque de Soleil masterpiece.
We are unpaid professional parents, meaning: I have a degree that includes a pile of ed psych and child development, in addition to classroom experience, and he has equal time served teaching and disciplining other peoples’ children in the military, we’ve raised half of our children to adulthood — so we’ve got our technique down.
We figure we fuck up just as much as other conscientious parents, but we’ve kept all of them alive this far, plus! we still like them, and one another! so we’re feelin pretty stoked!
Here’s a key to how many children you might like to have:
One child is mischief.
Two children are hijinks.
Three or more is a war.
If you want to know what it’s like to have a child, or you simply wish to be horrified, ask parents what sort of destruction has taken place in their happy family homes.
First, it starts because they can’t control themselves. They poo and pee and vomit and drool all over themselves. They poo and pee and vomit and drool all over you. They spit oatmeal out like miniature turbines. In an attempt to get the sweet potatoes into their mouths faster, they propel the feeding spoon into your forehead. (Or theirs. Then they cry about it.) You accept this, because your baby can’t help it. You become a fan of prints and you find out quickly which detergent gets the stains out the first time.
Second, it happens because they are engaging their environment. They actually wonder what will happen when they drop the bowl of applesauce on the floor. They’re curious as to whether the baby wipes taste as good as they smell. They want to know what the bookshelf looks like without books. Ever wonder what it tastes like when someone spits their apple juice into your coffee? Non?
They bang their heads on Daddy’s chair and then bang their heads on the coffee table. They teethe, so they bite everything. They gnaw on themselves, their clothes, your clothes, their toys, and bite everything else to examine its gnaw-ability. This is not limited to inanimate objects. Siblings and pets are subjected to test bites. Nipples do endure. My knee and the dog’s nose took the brunt of it, but here you can see, our old bed took a hit.
They honestly don’t know what will happen when they stuff their mouths full of Kleenexes, or how it will feel to grab a cactus leaf. They can’t predict that the cat will bite, or that the chair will fall over, or that honey can fasten their hands to their bibs, so they try everything. They bang everything and smash everything, just to find out how it looks, how it sounds, and how it feels.
This stage lasts a lot longer than any adult feels it should.
Children are deeply fascinated by chemical products. What could be better than a living room coated in baby powder? Air freshener in the eye? Night cream finger-paintings on the windows? Fingernail polish on the empty canvas of a white duvet? A sink filled with coconut shampoo? Toothpaste up the nose, between the toes, and everywhere in between? It’s hard to say, isn’t it?
Children love to push buttons. They fuck up your computer, put crayons in the washing machine, turn your tv to Spanish for the hearing impaired, put grilled cheese in the VCR, and call 911 to report that their sisters are being mean to them.
Mostly, the thing that drives me nuts about kids are all the things I can remember adults being irritated with when I was a child.
How hard is it to shut the door, flush the toilet, close a drawer, turn out a light?
Stop running in and out!
We’re not feeding/heating the neighborhood!
Is that how you found it?!
Each child is a unique and special child, with talents and abilities that need to be nurtured.
Perhaps you will be granted The Artistic Child. Artistic children will water-paint your houseplants, tattoo themselves with markers, graffiti the furniture with eye shadow, What? You never liked that chenille chaise anyway! They’ll add graphics to the walls, sculpt their mashed potatoes, write their names on every mirror and tv in the house, cut their own hair (and that of their siblings if you give them a good enough hiding space.)
Or perhaps you will be blessed with a child whose destiny is engineering. The hallmark of these children is that they leave Legos, K’nex, and metal erector set pieces on the floor. They can also accidentally uninstall Windows while creating a 3-D hovercraft in Paint. They may disassemble your bed, or your toaster, or your lawnmower engine. They beg you for an endless supply of Popsicle sticks, empty toilet rolls, twine, and batteries. They always ask why. All the time. Every day.
Maybe you’ll have one of those kids who likes to help. Helper children are precious, nosy know-it-alls who remember everything. They can always re-organize your kitchen, by putting “yummy foods” on the shelves they can reach, and putting those yucky brussel sprouts in the trash. They’re the ones who tell everyone in the public bathroom that you’re wearing your black panties, tell your parents how you and Daddy play leap frog naked, and are sure to point out the cost of your own shoes when they’re asking for $58 light-up shoes. Helpful children will be sure to dead-head every tulip in the yard, bring you a cup of tea they made from toilet water, and best of all, they’ll always tattle. All the time. Every day. FOREVER.
It’s possible you could get Superchild. Superchildren are virtually indestructible. What’s fun about them, is that they’re constantly on the go! You can’t keep up with them. Your Border Collie can’t keep up with them. They run. They run into crowds, traffic, alligator pits, fire — you name it, they’re runnin! They’re the ones you see on leashes. They’re resilient children, who will proudly announce “I’m okay!” while blood squirts from their exposed artery. They climb anything: the kitchen cupboards, the bookshelves, the trellis, fences, trees, vehicles, the steps at the courthouse (Where you are waiting to speak to a judge about the vandalism your other child committed, unsure if it was an artistic moment, or an engineering feat, when he sawed off the safety sponges on the neighbor’s swing set…It’s hard to say if he wanted to know how the saw worked, or whether he found the foam aesthetically displeasing…)
Regardless of the child’s talents, you can be sure that every moment your with your child will be an adventure. There will never be a dull moment. You won’t notice how exciting it is. You won’t notice much of anything most of the time, because you’ll be completely exhausted. You’ll notice your childless friends are self-centered idiots, but you won’t notice you’re wearing two different colored flip-flops. You’ll notice you’ve got a lot more gray hair, but you’ll be hard-pressed to remember when you were last in the bathroom alone. You’ll notice you have no money, but it doesn’t matter, because it will be years before you’ll buy yourself anything fun. (And by then, the fun thing might be a bathroom door lock or a box of hair colorant.)
It is now obligatory that I write about how I love my children infinitely, and how they are the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, and how I cannot imagine my world without them. It’s trite, and it’s true, and you won’t understand until you’ve got children of your own.