Friday, May 13, 2005

Parenting Pains

It occurs to me that the title of this entry could have a couple of meanings. Initially I intended to list a few things that make parenting painful. But I'm also parenting people who are sometimes pains. These are the types of things no one ever tells you about before you are a parent-- evidently some sort of warped biological mechanism intended to preserve the human race. If we knew about this stuff before, WE WOULD NEVER REPRODUCE.

This morning was fairly typical, nothing extraordinary, but I thought it exemplified parenting pains pretty well. My small tyke apparently woke up on the wrong side of the bed. When asked to please change his clothes and take off the stinky shirt he played baseball in two days ago, he refused. "Do I have to go get another shirt and put it on you?" I threatened. "Yes, I guess so," he shot back smiling, and rolled around in the comfy chair. We have this argument almost every school day. I went upstairs to get a shirt, but at least when I got back he had taken off the stinky one.

Next, we were standing by the kitchen window waiting for his school bus when the following nonsensical exchange occurred.

Tyke: Mom, I absolutely have to have my baseball uniform washed! And I have to know exactly where it is.

Mom: We know where it is. I washed it yesterday afternoon and it's in the laundry area.

Tyke: It has to be washed alone. By itself, together. Without any other clothes. Was it washed with anything else?

Mom: Yes, a couple of other things of yours, like the baseball pants you wore to practice.

Tyke: No, Mom!!! It can't be washed with anything else! That will make it too hard to tell where it is! I won't be able to find it if it's in there with a bunch of other stuff! [frantic] I have to know where it is, Mom. The rule is if I don't have absolutely every piece of my uniform, I can't play the game tomorrow and Sunday. [fitful histrionics] What if I don't have everything???

Mom: [sigh] We know where every part of it is. IN THE LAUNDRY, this very minute. Without "a bunch of other stuff."

Why are we arguing about something idiotic that isn't a problem? No one ever told me I would spend hours of my precious life getting sucked into makeshift dramas that not only don't exist in reality but don't even exist theoretically.

On the baseball theme, he then switched subjects to his disappointment over not being given permission to purchase a new Yankees hat. This is a story that goes back a long way. His first Yankees hat came from a best friend in our previous town, and was lost before we moved. Heartbreak. Tears. It was never recovered, and was finally replaced two years later at Christmas 2004. Yankees hat #2 was lost at school (shortly after acquisition) through inattention--it was off-season, so tyke didn't notice it was lost until long after, and didn't know where to look for it. He searched the house on a regular basis and even asked Grandma if she'd found it at her house. A couple of days ago he revealed that it supposedly "got donated along with the rest of the clothes that piled up in the school's lost-and-found."

So the other afternoon he decided he had to go to the official Yankees website to check hat types and prices. I said I didn't think he'd be getting another Yankees hat after losing two. Even though the first one was "free" as far as family investment. He persisted. Then, quietly, he went to the dinette table with a piece of paper, folded it, and entitled it "Yankees Cap Contract (real contract. Not to play with)"--apparently he means business this time. On the overleaf are the following promises: "1) will not bring this to school. 2) I will not take it any where were [sic] it can get lost. 3) I will treasure it (followed by a drawing of the cap with the Yankees NY logo). Then, his signature in large cursive below. Pretty nice tactic, I have to admit.

So this morning after the "lost uniform" debacle, he went directly to the hat argument. "Mom, I told Dad last night and he said he didn't want to hear about it right now, didn't want to hear about it right now, didn't want to hear about it right now. Even after I told him about the contract."

Mom didn't want to hear about it right now right now, either. "I don't think you're going to get another Yankees hat."

Tyke: But what you said was you don't know. You didn't say no. Is it up to Dad? Are you waiting to hear what Dad says before you decide? Will you say yes if Dad says yes? And how am I supposed to pay for it when I don't have a credit card?

Niggle, niggle, nag, nag.

Mom: I don't think you need to worry about the credit-card problem.

Tyke goes over to the big comfy chair and crawls into it in a fetal position, covering his face up (mock crying).

Mom: You have to go out the door for the bus now.

Tyke: [small voice muffled in the cushion] I'm not going. I'm not going on the bus.

Mom: Yes, you are. The #16 just went by and the #2 will be next, so you'd better go out NOW.

Tyke: I'm not taking the bus anymore. I don't want to take the bus anymore.

Mom: Well you'd better plan something, because I'm not driving you. The bus is your transportation to school.

Tyke: Then I'm not going to school anymore.

Grrrrr. See? What did I tell you--PAIN. He stayed in the chair. Time went by. Apparently enough time went by that his bus came and went. When he got up he was apprehensive.

Tyke: [panicked] Mom, the bus didn't come and now I'm going to be late! If it came I would already be at school by now. The clock says 8:29 and the bus didn't come. Now I'm going to be late.

Mom: If you are late, it is your fault for having a tantrum about a hat when you should have been watching for the bus. I'm sure the bus came, you just weren't waiting.

Tyke: If I get there as late as 8:35, then I'm dead! I'll have to go to the office and I'll be marked tardy.

Mom: That is the choice you made.

Tyke: NO, if I'm late it's your fault and the bus's fault for not coming.

Mom: Go get in the car now.


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