Kids make messes. They destroy things. I know this. I’ve been around the parenting block a few times now.
But sometimes, when I look around my house, I still don’t understand the sheer destructive power.
How, for instance, is it possible to crack a countertop using only a TOOTHBRUSH?
How can the need to move fast and hard be so overwhelming that you RIP THE FRONT OFF A DRAWER?
Why is there this inborn need to bang forks on the table, leaving hundreds of dents in the extremely high-quality oak table we invested in to accommodate large gatherings?
Why is it that after being told sixty-five times, “Put your shoes in the cubbies!” and getting in trouble seventy-three more because you can’t find the shoes you *didn’t put in the cubbies, you STILL TAKE THEM OFF AND DROP THEM WHEREVER YOU ARE?
And what in the name of all that is holy is the deal with ripping holes in knees??????????
(Why, yes, in fact I do consider the multiple punctuation justified.)
Bleach spots on the wall!
Sharpie on the kitchen table!
Marker on my computer chair!
Marker on the basement carpet!
Paint on the basement carpet!
DVDs snapped in half! (Have you ever *tried to break a DVD? It’s next to impossible!
Chips in the piano keys!
Pee everywhere EXCEPT in the toilet bowl!
Clothing that has a food stain on it five minutes—literally—after it gets put on the body!
The same food smudge across the right cheek that has been there for FOUR YEARS!
I do not understand this. I know I’m a girl and all, and that I grew up in a house full of girls, but we were not particularly girly girls. I mean, we played on tractors and jumped off hay bales, and we *still didn’t get as dirty and break as many things as my boys do on a regular basis.
Most of the time I am pretty philosophical about it all, but every once in a while it occurs to me that it would be nice to have a house that looked, you know…nice. And it’s an almost daily occurrence for me to send my kids out into the world with a mental groan, thinking of all those parents who manage to get their kids to school with their backpacks neat, their clothes intact, and no black jelly smudges across their right cheek.
It must be my fault, because I’m the mom. And I routinely (read that: virtually always) forget the a) canned good for charity, b) dress-down day, c) stuffed animal for school reward day, d) pajama day.
But I am not, nor do I have any interest in being, a helicopter parent. I’m pretty sure when I was a kid, I was expected to be on top of my own special-dress days. And of course, we didn’t have things like stuffed animal parties and pajama days at all.
And so I continue to navigate an uneasy truce between taking care of my kids and expecting them to take responsibility for themselves.
Besides, I figure I can always pull the “I have kids in three different schools” card. And I do so without apology. Regularly.