coming soon… a new reality show
July 6, 2006
About 15 years ago, Rob was interning at a firm his last semester at college. They had just offered him a full time position. We were invited to an informal party at the house of one of the partners.
We were young. We were unmarried. We had no children, and rather liked it that way.
One of the people at the party had a daughter who was about 2 years old. This child kept touching the food on the platter which was on the coffee table. The mother pretty much ignored her, laughed at all the obnoxious things the child did (which in retrospect weren’t all that obnoxious), and kept encourgaing the child to show off her cute tricks, like some sort of trained circus animal.
Rob and I didn’t say anything, but after we left the party, we turned to each other and both agreed that that chid was the most ill-behaved child we had ever seen in our lives. Of course at that point in our lives we really didn’t know any other children with which to gauge this brattiness.
A few years later Rob’s best friend came over to our house for a visit on Christmas Eve. He brought his two year old son. We were the parents of a newborn baby and therefore, still very confident in our superior parenting abilities. The boy kept touching our Christmas decorations. And having tantrums. And the crying. Good Lord the crying. I remember thinking, ‘Isn’t that child a little old to be behaving like that?’ After they left Rob and I were horrified. Our child would never behave that way. What a brat.
Two years later, when we had our own two year old, we apologized to Rob’s friend for our awful thoughts. Though his friend was slightly confused about what exactly we were apologizing for.
I hadn’t thought much about those incidents in the past few years. Most everyone we know at this stage of our lives has children. And while there are a few children that I know who would benefit from some sort of discipline, for the most art I have become immune to the annoying antics of children.
I can carry on a conversation while I have a child saying “Mom, mom, mom” over and over again six inches from my face.
I can listen to an interesting story while I send my death glare over to a child who is misbehaving and communicate telepathically to that child the consequences that will occur if he keeps up the behavior.
I can get up mid sentence to go help a child in the bathroom and return five minutes later and pick the conversation up with the next word in the sentence where I left off.
Sometimes I forget that these are skills that have been acquired through child birth and honed to perfection over time.
This weekend halloweenlover and her husband came over for dinner and a visit. And they brought their dogs who were incredibly cute and frankly if I had it to do over again I might have just gotten seven of those instead. Okay I’m kidding, mostly. I had a great time and really enjoyed visiting with them, but I couldn’t help but imagine after they left what the visit was like for them.
My daughter had to touch every single bit of food that I put out. She picked up the watermelon slices and tasted them all. My 18 month old son nibbled every single carrot stick that was out on the platter and then spit the chewed up bits onto the floor.
My son picked up her pocketbook and slammed it down on the floor as hard as he could. Luckily, inspite of the loud noise we heard, her Blackberry survived.
I heard myself say, “Show everyone how you do cartwheels!”
And I laughed when they drew with chalk all over the sunporch floor and monopolized the conversation. But I do now know everything there is to know about their dogs including their eating and bowel habits.
And I ignored it when they kept drinking soda, even though I had said no more soda.
You know that tv show, “What Not to Wear”… I felt like we were the parenting version. “How Not to Parent”
So I leave you with words of wisdom for those who visit me… when the food is served, grab what you want quickly, unless you like eating toddler handled leftovers. Keep all your expensive possessions on your person. Accept the fact that you will not utter a complete sentence uninterrupted for the duration of you stay in my home. And know that you will leave my house ready to sterilize yourself, unless you are already pregnant.
Then you will just be scared.
As you should be.
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