There was this one time many years ago, I was unloading groceries from the car, plastic bags dangling from both arms as I tried to backwards-kick the passenger side door shut. My toddler sprawled out in front of me right there in the grass, draped across my feet, and began to wail because he couldn’t have a popsicle out of the grocery bag at that precise moment. I took my dominant leg and scooped him up with it like an excavator at a demolition site, moved him expertly to the side and dumped him right back in the grass where he kept on wailing. I glided past him and into the house, catching the eye of my judgmental neighborlady in the process, who I’m sure thought she was sure she just saw me kick my kid.
There’s something hysterical about a parenting fail. Hysterical, that is, well after you’re in the middle of it.
Let’s hear it for that time we forgot it was our turn to bring snacks to the baseball team (so everyone got a Pepperidge Farm Milano in a ziplock bag), or the time nobody reminded me about Kite Day (so my kid didn’t have one and he cried on the way to school and said he was going to lose all his friends) or on Superhero Day (he wore Dad’s socks and a towel) or when I forgot the teacher’s birthday (hello, Winn Dixie).
When disaster struck, we scrambled around our house throwing together the right outfit, visiting Walgreens for last-minute giftcards, digging through the dirty clothes basket for a dirty, stinking uniform, wondering why can’t anyone else ever do any laundry?
It’s Survival School. Those years between 0 and 18, every single one of them, make it seem that some fool Up There should never have given me kids. The toddler years are particularly humorous and the parenting fails during those years are particularly numerous because we’re often too tired to give a damn. Sharing the good stories with each other keeps it somewhat tolerable and allowing ourselves to laugh about them without shame makes all of us feel a little more human.
You know what they say. It takes a village.
I ran across this piece on Facebook as I sipped coffee in my pjs on a quiet Sunday morning. My kid is all grown up now so I finally have the pleasure of enjoying stories from The Trenches from the safe distance of graduate-level parenting, knowing I successfully completed that tough, early journey. I would like to thank Chelsea for letting me feature her trials. Knowing we’re all in this together keeps us from going crazy.
by Chelsea Lochas
The morning routine. I have tried dressing him first so he can play while I get ready. This never works because by the time I go to get him there is usually one shoe missing, if not two. Let’s don’t even begin to describe the mess he has created in a matter of 10 minutes. I have tried getting myself ready while he is still asleep and then waking him up and getting him ready which works out fairly well except that by then he has just woken up and usually is not quite ready to eat.
God forbid it, but anything I do might end in another bath.
The food fight. Breakfast or any feeding event is usually another task on its own. I have learned to take off his shirt because I usually end up changing it again anyways due to crumbs, stains, or even just the amount of drool that soaks the entire front of the shirt during the course of the meal or snack. Now keep in mind if finger foods are not bad enough, my 18 month old is now trying to master a spoon and fork. It takes longer and requires an extreme amount of clean-up afterwards, and God forbid it, but anything I do might end in another bath.
The car. Oh the car. Now we’re headed out the door and finally making our way to wherever it is that I am required to be by a certain time, which usually by now I’m already a good 10 minutes late and rushing. Get the car packed while he is exploring the yard or even worse trying to run into the road when I look away for half of a nano second. So here I am loading the car with my leg stretched out to keep him from passing into the vehicular manslaughter danger zone. Finally I get him and put him in his car seat. The kicking, screaming, bowing of the back, and overall resistance of being strapped down in a car seat makes buckling impossible. Then, when you finally get to the buckle it is blistering hot because you live in Florida where the car temperature is enough to make a sauna seem like an ice bath. Now I can’t strap this across his body because I am pretty sure branding was abolished with slavery. So I blow on it or start the car and pray the AC starts pumping. I usually have to end up finding some kind of barrier to place between the two; for example, a diaper.
Now we proceed to put the car in drive. As we all know driving is a defensive action. Always having to be aware of other cars and their moronic decisions to cut you off or slam on brakes or God forbid not know how to work a four way stop. However, for a parent you also have to play defense to your kid screaming or a sippy cup flying past your head and landing in the floor board under your brake pedal (which has totally happened to me.) But at least you’re on your way to your appointment/ event/ plans made usually with people who have no compassion for your situation. Then. YES! Sigh of relief, he has passed out. The car has worked its special magic again and you are now in peace for the last 5 minutes of your drive.
I couldn’t even produce tears if I wanted to.
Never wake a sleeping baby. This could not be more true, but unfortunately you have now arrived at your destination and have to take said sleeping child out of his car seat right as he has reached the brink of deep comforting sleep. Now as I am FINALLY walking in to the birthday party, or a lunch date, or a doctor’s appointment, my child is wailing in the loudest high pitched screech you can imagine. After 15 different apologies and attempts to soothe him I hopefully get to sit down because by this point I am so exhausted I couldn’t even produce tears if I wanted to.
This is maybe a tenth of my day. I only have ONE child. Major kudos to the parents that have more than one, I could not imagine the discipline and preparation that requires. I understand I am a single parent but I wonder if there is much difference when there are two adults helping, and I imagine it would only result in two tired and worn out parents that are now annoyed not only with their child but with each other as well. So in conclusion I DO NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING LATE ANYWHERE AND BLAMING IT ON MY CHILD because being a parent is hard, probably the hardest thing I have ever done. And nothing could be more upsetting than finally getting to where you’re going and finding that everyone is upset with you for being late.
P.S. I’m sure if I went back, reviewed, and edited my “short story” I hope it would be worthy of some applause or at least some understanding, or even an honorable excerpt in Dawn Quarles’ future book “How to Raise a Good Boy,” but by this point I’m honestly just surprised I even had 10 minutes to write out my rant! Aye Yi Yi!
Chelsea Lochas, 26, writing on behalf of every young, single mama everywhere in the world….doing it all by herself and doing a damn good job. As for me, I need a nap and a drink just reading this. Love you. Here’s your honorable excerpt.