Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parenting 101: Though They Be Cute, They Be Wild

Picture this, if you will. It's been what feels like the 40th rainy day in a row. You're thinking about possibly building an ark, or at the very least renting a pontoon boat. Your children, desperate from lack of sunshine, have fallen into a mode of behavior that has only two sounds: 'Whine' and 'Oh dear Lord, How Could They Actually Have Gotten Even Whinier?' At any given time you know exactly where they are located based upon the primordial sounds of anger, disgust, and inactivity being emitted in their vicinity.

At some point you realize that your ears may explode if they are forced to transept one more derivative of "Wahhh", so you send them away. Upstairs. Somewhere else. Proximity to you is not a good thing at this moment; away is better. Safer.

They trot off, trailing the sluggish sounds of Whine behind them, and you plunk down on the couch: exhausted and ready to read and have a few minutes of peace. As you mindlessly flip pages of a book you're only barely paying attention to, you keep track of their activities through a series of audible thumps, squeals, and yelps that are floating down the stairs.

Content that they're not assembling any ammunition or making dung bombs, you turn your attention fully to the book. You tune them out.

(Can you spot your mistake in those last 2 sentences?)

Immersed in the world of make-believe your book has blessedly whisked you off to, you only presently realize that there is an odd sound filling the room. Pricking your ears up, you realize what the sound is and why it distresses you so much. It's silence.

Moving slowly, you put the book down and begin the trek upstairs, listening as you go; waiting for some indication that you were mearly hearing a lull in their conversation, and hoping that they're really behaving. Perhaps, you silently hope to yourself, they're just sitting quietly with their hands in their laps, waiting to apologize for the week's worth of frustration they've inflicted upon you.

(Because you can always keep that dream alive, my friend. Always.)

Entering their room you find that your hopeful dream was miles and miles away from the truth of what was happening. Sitting in the middle of the room are your two cherubs. For the first time in a week, they are playing with gusto, it's true. Unfortunately, they're playing with the mounds of newly headless (and some legless) Barbie dolls, and few headless My Little Ponies that they've apparently just created.

You see, there is a lesson to be learned here. There is. Sure, you were exhausted and worn out by days of whining and fighting. And certainly you were ready for a quiet moment to yourself. And the truth is, you did everything right by keeping an ear towards their non-visual play, listening for any sounds that might suggest naughtiness.

(But really, what sounds would be suggest the beheading of dolls?)

However, the harsh reality is, my friend, that you were suckered in. It's true. You made the error of taking those acceptable noises and assuming they were up to an equally acceptable past time. You were lulled into complacency by a false sense of clueless guise. I've seen it happen so many times before; you forgot the first mantra of parenting multiples: Though They Be Cute, They Be Wild.

No you can't really trust them. Even though they're past the age of sticking things in outlets and pulling dressers over on themselves, they still aren't fully trustworthy! Don't be so naive, man. So what that they're almost 7; let us not forget that there are 2 of them, and according to Mandy's Law, whenever 2 or more gather, mischief can and will be made.

So now you have to deal with those poor headless/legless creatures. All of them. One by one. You have no real way of knowing if you get the heads sorted out and reattached to the correct body, but you give it your best shot anyway.

In the end, you take away the much anticipated TV time, explaining to them that poor
Barbie & My Little Ponies can no longer watch either (since they've been decapitated), and isn't that quite sad indeed? And you explain in firm terms that under no circumstance will this ever happen again. But somewhere, deep in side, you know it will. Somehow. You'll let your guard down one day; you can't be everywhere at once, after all. You're good, but not that good.

And in the end, this much is ever true: Though They Be Cute, They Be Wild. Beware.

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