Parenting Perils: Threenagers
by Justina Bahriak
“You don’t put a carrot in someone’s face while they’re cutting.” I’ve actually said this to another human being, with conviction, as if it’s some sort of life lesson. In fact, I say nonsensical things like this all day long. Why? Because I’m a parent.
That’s right. I live with a tiny dictator who challenges every fiber of my sanity by yelling at me for putting the wrong lotion on my hands or using the vacuum “too loudly” and then demands I accompany him on every single pee break (in his defense, he does return the favor); lest he unleash a little tornado of emotion and demands.
Yes, I am a mom to a threenager. Protests about which car we will take to the park (whether taking another vehicle is even an actual option or not) are the norm and having my eyes pried open should I so much as close them for a little longer that the average human eye blink is totally acceptable. No, my child is not preparing to be an adult jerk, he’s just…three.
People who don’t have little kids don’t understand. I can tell by their bewildered face when they see my child dressed like a homeless person or that I’m letting him attempt to eat soup with a fork. I haven’t given up, I’m choosing my battles – you want to wear rubber boots when it’s 95 degrees out? Fine. I’d let you bring a flaming arrow at this point as long as we can finally get out the door (oh, you have to poop? Lovely). Letting him make little decisions like what he wears frees up space in my soul for the one million other arguments we will have that day.
How else will I maintain any sanity when my every brain cell is challenged with conversations like: “why is that container made of glass?” “well, I guess that’s the material the manufacturer chose.” “why?” “umm, because it’s durable yet pleasing to the eye?” These inquiries are not made at opportune times, mind you; no, these gems are saved for moments such as checking out at the grocery store or while you’re on the phone with anyone about anything important.
By the time bedtime rolls around I don’t have the capacity to answer questions like “what’s inside a lions paw?” because once he enters his bedroom, my brain turns off and crappy reality TV turns on. When he comes out of his room I sputter incoherent things about how it’s late and bedtime and how your body needs rest. In fact, as I type I have a Mickey sticker on the top of my hand that my son placed there, probably an hour ago. I don’t know why but it’s irritating the crap out of my skin yet I will not take it off. Why? Because when he comes out of his room, he glances to see if it’s still on and I will do anything, anything, to not interrupt bedtime – even allow my skin to burn.
Ah, yes, parenting. Something we willingly sign up for yet have no clue how to get through. Each stage that passes feels like there should be some sort of recognition for making it with all parties still intact. A parade seems a bit much but definitely something; ice cream? Wine? Wine flavored ice cream?
It would appear that until we, as parents, get some sort of reward system in place for each other (because, let’s face it, no one else is going to do it for us) we must rest easy on the loss of small battles and focus on winning the war – the war against raising a total a-hole. Good luck and Godspeed, my friends. Godspeed.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal August 15, 2014.
Justina Bahriak is a stay at home mom with a psychology degree, which means she spends half the day losing her mind and the other half psychoanalyzing it. She was born and raised in New York and holds an advanced degree in social science. Justina is an Army wife to a reluctant vegetarian (he’ll thank her later) and stay at home mom to a toddler (whom she is sure will live in a nudist colony one day). Having a strong background in health and sports psychology, her passion is anything health and fitness. Justina finds that writing is a wonderful outlet for her over-analytical brain and thoroughly enjoys putting her minds endless energy into exploring how being a mother and military wife affects her view of everyday events.
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