Both of my boys on the day they turned 18 months had some sort of sneaky, aggressive, annoying, whiny gene activate that turned them into tiny Tasmanian Devils.
(While I was writing that sentence Will illustrated it perfectly by throwing my cup of water onto the wood floor, grabbing a pen, and attempting to push me off of my chair so that he could have the computer. OK, he just threw the pen down the heater grate.).
His latest obsession is finding the step stool, carrying it into the kitchen, and finding the biggest knife he can. I have found him with all variety of knives three times today already. Each time I moved and hid them while he wasn’t watching, and he managed to find it or a new one. How do I compete with that kind of determination? I have no determination left. He has worn me down.
I understand now why people say you let your third kid juggle knives. Its not because you think its ok, or you don’t love them, or you even think they’ll be ok. Its because by this time you are completely worn down. There is no vigilance left in you. You have spent the last 7 years making kids poop, eat, be safe, have manners, and by this point the kids have taken over. You are just proud at the end of the day that everyone is alive.
And, I get so distracted by the older kids, that it takes me a few minutes to realize that I haven’t seen or heard from the baby in at least two minutes. And we all know by this time that when there is silence, there is trouble…
I keep thinking of Harry Potter, when Professor Moody is always telling everyone “constant vigilance.” He is speaking about constant vigilance against evil, but I can’t help thinking it could be applied towards parenting.
By the time our kids get to school age, we can start to relax a bit. Even let them play outside unsupervised. Maybe even get some dishes done while they play! I had forgotten about how quickly toddlers can get into trouble, and the knack they have for finding the most dangerous thing in the room and going for it.
I went to a get together recently with my Mom’s group (PEPS) from when Julia was a baby and was reminded of this. I am the only one who has three kids, and so the only one with a toddler. While everyone let their kids play at the sprinkler park and do their own thing, I spent the entire two hours wrangling Will and attempting to keep him from getting run over by bigger kids, cars, not to eat the sand, the cigarette butts, and to stop trying to somersault down a hill that was way to big for him. If I totalled up the amount of actual conversation I had that didn’t entail me attempting to corral the kids, I think it would add up to 5 minutes (and that’s on the high end).
And so, at the end of the day when my husband asks me what I did today. I very sincerely tell him that I managed to keep three kids alive and fed, with no trips to the ER. Now THAT is a good day.