Adventures in Parenting: The Pupa Stage.

One of the worst things about being a parent is watching your kid grow up. I’ve been watching my son go through both literal and figurative growing pains since the day he was born. Each new achievement has been bitter sweet. The day he started crawling, the day he started walking, the day he first explored grass*, the day he said “dada” for the first time, the day he willingly went into the pool for the first time, the day he stopped sucking his thumb. Every moment has been exciting because I can literally watch him grow up, before my eyes. And every moment has been another stab in the heart because I am newly reminded that he won’t be “my baby” forever. The nights where we snuggle on the couch watching television could end sooner, as opposed to later. The days where he comes running to me with his major cuts and scrapes could be drying up before my very eyes. This is the shittiest thing and the greatest thing about being a parent: watching the kid in question grow up.

We’re on the precipice of big-huge changes around here and I don’t like.

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Adventures in Parenting: The Superman Syndrome.

As parents, we cultivate this image of being one hundred percent always able to fix everything: impervious to illnesses, low blood sugar, and kryptonite. The magic-fix goes from the woes of our children’s lives to the much-debated issue of world peace. If something needs fixing, then we are there to stand by with our magical powers, magical wands, and glittery unicorn horns so that we can say the right, whispered words for the solution to the problem in question. Considering all the shit we are suddenly capable of pulling off, on top of being given the child in question after childbirth, then we should also be given our very own Superman suit… preferably with colors coordinating to our varied complexions.

The problem, here, being that we soon begin to believe the hype. We truly believe that we have all the answers, all the right moves, and maybe can leap a building in a single bound. (We’ve all heard the stories of mother’s lifting cars from their children, so it’s a minor leap to assume we could leap buildings.) So, we’re be-bopping along with this inflated ego, thinking that we can solve it all when we are painfully, cripplingly, and horrifically dropped down to earth.

Not a punch is thrown.

Not an enemy in sight.

It’s that moment when your child is ill. And no matter the medicine, the doctor visit, or holistic remedies we look up, there is nothing we can do to take away their misery, their pain, or their racking cough. It’s in that moment when all the grist for the rumor mill stops and we suddenly realize that we were suffering from The Superman Syndrome.

Adventures in Parenting: The Mexican Standoff.

So, TS and I had a decent morning. I woke up first so I got to enjoy some quiet time to myself, in which I studied my Character Naming book for a bit. When he finally ordained to show himself to the word, he came barreling into my room so that we could have some snuggle time, then proceeded about the day. There was a good breakfast (for him; I made oatmeal and it was awful: cinnamon flavor, my ass) and some good chatter. Then, we went for a walk with Jazzy. It was good and brisk and delicious. We got home… and it turned to shit. All because I said the magic words: “It’s time to clean your room.”

Now. Anyone who is a parent, was a parent, has a parent, dreams of being a parent, will write about having had parents, etc, et al. They know that to say those words means that they must have steel reinforced mental fortitude, a strong cocktail in the offing, the ability to ignore the whines that are ploys to get out of cleaning, another strong cocktail in the offing and remain stoutly behind the sentiment of cleaning said room. These are difficult tasks, but I hear they’re important. You know, solidarity and strict parenting and maintaining a regimen, or some such shit.

I am horrible at this because I usually get sick at the ploys part.

I mean, there are only so many potty breaks before I explode.

Today, though, I picked the stand-off to end all stand offs. I was sick to death of the fights and arguments. I was coldly furious with the aggravating stubbornness that he habitually conveys towards us (and privately, both prideful and admiring: he will be his own person that’s for fucking sure). I was intent on a good daily routine that was strict but fair. I was going to get this shit on track. He’s practically four; he should be able to do this shit. I had good fucking intentions, people; let me just get that out there.

Today was the mother fucking day…

…that he spent almost eleven hours in his room, stubbornly refusing to pick up a damn thing.

Now, I know that being a parent has nothing to do with having it easy. The whole point is to learn and make good people and blah, blah, blah. But you know what? There are days where I think Michelangelo had it easy with the Sistine Chapel. There are days when I think that being an Englishman in 1773 Boston, MA would be infinitely preferable to being a parent. There are just some days when I know for a fact that Christopher Columbus had it so much easier in trying to get someone to believe him when he said that he could get to Asia a lot fucking faster. And seriously? I’m thinking that creating an entire fucking nation by hand? A piece of fucking child’s play in comparison. These are things that would be way fucking easier than, you know, parenting. Or, you know, getting them to do something you actually want them to do when you want them to do it.

There are just some times when you want to take a Klonopin, a hefty dose of vodka, and just sleep for a thousand years. Maybe after that little cat nap, you’ll be able to deal with the cyclical logic of a stubborn three-year-old: I want to listen, but I don’t want to clean my room. I don’t want to listen because that would mean I would have to clean my room. However, in not listening, that means I cannot do anything, so. I want to listen. The argument goes on. And it’s so hard to fucking puncture when they have such strong belief in the fact that if they want it, therefore it must be so.

Okay. So how come I don’t go into his room and throw his shit away?

Oh, we’ve done that. We’ve tried the throwing out toys thing. We’ve tried the “let’s put them out of sight and he can earn them back” thing, too. We’ve tried the grounded with no TV thing. We’ve tried the “you can’t go anywhere or do anything” thing. We’ve even withheld visits with Aunt Nuh-Nuh and Gramma and anyone else he wants to see frequently. Oh, the list goes on. And while most of those things don’t fucking work because his memory is incomplete and therefore, he remembers that he can’t do this or that for all five seconds. The other thing is that I’m not going to become one of those parents who clean their kids’ rooms.

See, it’s a ploy. I think it’s encoded in the DNA. I remember as a child that there were arguments about cleaning my room, but (and I could be wrong here) I’m sure that I always cleaned it (or shoved shit under my bed and in my closet) prior to the threat of having things tossed out. Now my brother? Not so lucky. And I think my mom came to the same conclusion that I did because when he was a teenager? I think he cleaned his room twice and both those times, it was because a girl was coming over.

Back to the ploy and the DNA encoding, right? These kids are impressed that if they hold out long enough, Mom and Dad are going to go in there and make the room back to normal. It will be clean and neat; an entire canvas, if you will, to re-destroy as they see fit. And the only hard work that they have to handle is the destroying. Like I said, after a while, Mom and Dad are going to get pissed and they’re going to do the really tough part for these kids. And you know what? I’m not buyin’ it. If my kid doesn’t miss the toys I’ve thrown out to date (most of which are blocks, blocks, some cars, and more blocks) then he’s not going to miss the ones that I’m threatening to toss out now.

And again, I’m not going to pick up his shit.

He can pick up his shit. He can throw it out for all I care, but I’m not taking care of the mess.

So, in the mean time, lock down, right?

Except that here’s the problem: We’re at the Mexican Standoff point to the parenting technique. The definition, so to speak, of the Mexican Standoff is a stalemate; a situation in which neither party can win for the foreseeable future. That’s the definition. There’s some chatter on the Wiki page about how a Mexican Standoff means that there are is some serious danger involved. I think they’re referring to guns and bombs, to be frank. Obviously, no one who wrote that article on Wikipedia has ever been a parent and so therefore, has no fucking clue that guns and bombs are a cake walk in comparison.

This is when it gets dicey.

Now, the Mexican Standoff portion of parenting is reached only when one or both parents have had enough. Whatever that means. It can come shortly after the first initial head-butting or it can occur after the fiftieth head-butting. Either way, it’s going to happen if the kid is alive and breathing, and so therefore, naturally cantankerous. Considering the stubbornness in my family and in TH’s… TS is going to invent the time machine or something and all because someone will tell him that it’s not possible and he’s too stubborn to let shit go. (I’m. Not. Joking.)

So. There you are. The two (or three, depending on the parenting techniques involved) are staring each other down. There’s sweat dripping obscenely on the upper lip of the primary parent in this argument. The secondary parent is in the background, yelling insignificant threats, possibly in a foreign language because the kid just isn’t getting the point. The child is looking right back at you with a tear-stained, snot-streaked face and that accusing stare that only a child has. You know the one: That. Look. The look that says they will remember this incident for the rest of their lives and discuss it with subsequent therapists over the years in an ongoing monologue of Let’s Blame the Parents. Yep. That. Look.

And you’re left with the thoughts of either backing down or keeping up the wall of Parental Unreasonableness.

So. My kid has been in his room, ostensibly cleaning and then, hysterically denying that any cleaning will be done, for the last eleven hours. He’s out now mostly because, you know, he has to eat sometime. In other words, he has to refill his Cistern of Intractability. Oh, yes. Food goes straight into that reservoir of deepest darkest stubborn that lives only in the innocent soul of the child that you created. It’s a fact. (Says I.) So. Where are we in this argument?

The room isn’t clean, but the blocks (WHICH STARTED THIS SHIT IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE) are off of the floor. I’d say about 25% of the cleaned up blocks is due to him, about 14% from me, and about 75% left to TH. (I know that the math is off. You have no fucking clue how this block business is unless you’ve had children. They multiply. So while you think you’ve grabbed up every single fucking one? THERE. ARE. ALWAYS. MORE.) And for the most part, the rest of his toys are ostensibly away. (They’re probably mostly under the bed, but if you can’t get your own child to clean his room, there’s no way cleaning under the bed is going to happen. Ever.) And I’m fine with that.

However, this leaves me in a serious fucking pickle. A Dill, even.

I didn’t back down from the fight and neither did he. It was TH who decided that it was finished. I think this mostly stemmed from the fact that it’s getting late and it’s really just a matter of pride right now. My pride in getting my son to do just one thing that I ask when I ask it and TS’s pride in proving to his mother that he is his own damn person, thank you very much. While I appreciate the whole growing pains thing, I am the mother and I will win because I am the mother and I brought him into this world and I can take him right the hell out of it. (I totally just channeled my mother right there.)

So what do I do on the morrow? Do I acknowledge him as supreme commander in the land of all that is stubborn? Or, do I prove to him that I am the queenliest queen of tenacity and will win at every opportunity?

The answer, my friends, is neither. We start the day off with a fresh slate and see what sort of battle of wills we can get into tomorrow.