Sometimes as a parent you have to wave that white flag. Often, actually, if you want to keep your sanity.
“I’m done, Daddy,” I hear the child shouting from the bathroom. “I’m done pooping!”
When I open the bathroom door I find my five-year-old son bent over in a downward dog pose with his muddy eye staring right at me.
I tell him, with my breath held, that he is old enough to wipe his own butt. I have used shame. I have used humiliation. I have used adult conversation. But he just doesn’t budge. So I wipe his butt and get the hell out of there.
It’s these kinds of moments that I lose myself as a parent. I want them to rush to adulthood and grow up a little. At times I can’t stand my tiny little roommates.
My oldest boy, our eight-year sweetheart doesn’t eat. Well he eats, but it’s not actually real food. His diet consists of chicken nuggets, hot dogs and a pizza from only a select group of neighborhood pizzerias. He is a smart, athletic social young man whose lumpy torso is starting to look like a bag a frozen dinosaur chicken nuggets. And his farts actually smell like ketchup.
We have tried all the tricks to make this kid eat, to mix up his meal, to balance his diet. But he wants what he wants, and he gags on the rest. Parenting a picky eater is frustrating. But it gets worse as the night goes on.
My three-year-boy sleeps with us. Well, actually we sleep with him. We put him down in our bed and join him later in the evening. (Judge me all you want, but I have four children and I am beyond your scrutiny.) This kid kicks and punches. He steals the covers and throws them off the bed.
My life would be better, my work would be stronger and my sanity would be intact if I was able to get one good night sleep on occasion. I’d kick and scream about it, but I’m just too tired after ten years of having a child in my bed.
Which brings me to my 10-year-old daughter. Wow she’s beautiful, but she’s starting to get that teenage attitude. She has a wicked chip on her shoulder. She always has a witty retort in her chamber. Her eye rolls are on a constant loop around her head like she’s wearing a pair of wiggle-eye stickers on her face.
Every conversation with her could turn into either an innocent life lesson, or a verbal war.
But I’m not complaining. You see, I can’t complain. My kids are me. They are exactly like me. And I know it.
I was a terrible eater as a child, a horrible sleeper too. I still remember the feeling of my butt falling asleep as I waited for my mom to wipe my ass at the age of kindergarten. And I’m pretty sure I invented the eye roll as a young man. But I grew up, and I know my children will too. I know in time they will grow out of their weird little habits. I know that I too must use this time to grow as a parent.
In the meantime I surrender. Every time I turn around I find another battle at another forefront. There are parental issues attacking me at every angle. To quote Carson from Downton Abbey, “ I cannot fight a war on all fronts.”
So, fellow parents, allow me this opportunity to wave an occasional white flag or two. I urge you to look the other way when you catch me looking the other way.
And I’ll do the same.
I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, I know exactly what caused all those pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Find more of me here…https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Pathetic-Blog/201109276572306