Oct 24, 2016 12:36PM ● Published by Today's Family
Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. No matter how much you read about what to expect when you’re expecting, or what to expect during the toddler years, there isn’t really a hard and fast guide to refer to for some of those unexpected things that can occur. Often, you may feel like a high-wire circus performer at a low-budget circus, performing without a net.
For instance, what exactly should you do when you find your toddler, who should have been napping in her room, sitting quietly on the floor with her Bitty Baby, giving them both a new hairdo with pungent eucalyptus vapor rub? When washing it out with grease-cutting dish soap didn’t work, we had to wait it out through several days and multiple baths and hair washes. On the bright side, her sinuses were very clear; so were everyone’s we encountered at the library, the store, and around town that week.
Or the way I learned my older daughter was nearly done with her afternoon nap. I had just installed a pocket organizer on the back of her bedroom door to store extra shoes and accessories. When she should have been napping, she emptied those pockets, as well as all the dresser drawers she could reach, holding an impromptu fashion show for her stuffed animals and dolls. When I went in later to check on her, it looked as if a tornado whipped through her room; clothes and shoes were tossed carelessly about. She lay sound asleep on the floor, the sole victim, wearing bright tights on one leg, one sock on the other, two different shoes, a pajama top, and a pink tutu. It must have been one heck of a show.
Or when my preschooler came along to help me at the office supply store one day, and was captivated by the highly visible moustache that the kind, female sales associate had. Time and again, the associate bent closer to my daughter, trying to win her over with stickers and jokes. Each time, my child turned to me, struggling to find the right word to describe the woman’s extra facial hair. “Shush-shash, mommy?” I tried to distract her with candy, my car keys -- basically everything in my purse, purposely stalling her words in order to check out and leave the store before she found the right one and got us banished from Staples forever.
Now that my kids are older, the tables have turned, and it’s my turn to embarrass them. Remembering the rules of grammar and spelling tend to be a bit confusing, especially since there are many exceptions to those rules. To help my memory, I often use simple devices or silly wordplay, such as the timeless, “I before E, except after C,” phrase or “the principal is your pal,” to make it easier to remember the difference between the words principal and principle. I find it helpful to remind myself the difference between the words desert and dessert by asking myself which one I’d like more of -- dessert -- duh! (so that’s the one with more s’s). When helping my fifth-grader study for her spelling test, I wanted to come up with a memorable way for her to properly spell the word “embarrassed.” She couldn’t seem to remember that the third syllable began with an “a.” In a flash of inspiration, I explained that when someone is embarrassed, they’ve usually made a (you know what) of themselves, just like the last syllable. My husband was not amused that I shared a new vocabulary word with our daughter. When asked if she already knew that word, she shot back, “Well, I do now!” In my defense, she did ace that week’s spelling test!
I love my kids even when they embarrass the heck out of me. I can only hope they feel the same about me. After all, they’re right there on the high wire with me; there’s no handbook for childhood, either.