The real challenge, and the reason for accepting Dr. Cosby’s philosophy, started when my daughter turned 17. I had remarried, and this time there were three children who came with the deal. Now the reasons behind the marriage and why I would ever marry a woman with three kids would probably fill a medical journal on the folly of man, but I digress to a topic better suited for a separate visit. (More probably a separate visit to a licensed mental health professional...). The point is that I now have not one, but four children in my life. The old movie “With Six You Get Eggroll” was cute, the television series “the Brady Bunch” was cute, but I can say with some authority that cute “ain’t life!”
“Life” is the not so rare moment when the scream from the back seat is blood curdling and opines that, “HE LOOKED AT ME!!” “Life” is not just a cat bouncing down the stairs anymore, instead it is now the brother doing the ever popular Olympic event called the “Sister Toss”. With the “Sister Toss” the motivator is no longer science and gravity, but rather good old fashioned revenge. If you could get a gold medal for the “Sister Toss” then the 5 year old would have at least a dozen or more........
Has this brought me closer to my second wife? You better believe it. We often spend our evenings standing back to back as we toss kids into and out of the shower, pajamas, and beds. Trust me, back to back is the only way to keep each other protected from the “slings and arrows” of parenthood, which with our kids often means real slings and arrows. Following the can of worms we call a family takes skill, patience, and nerves of steel. Of course, we have none of that, but my wife has a wonderful right cross that has saved my life on more than one occasion.
This is not to ignore another night time ritual of wanting to wander halls or swap beds. You see, children are inherently curious. They want to feel like they aren’t missing anything, and God forbid, you should have any time with Mom. This is criminal and the kids don’t want any part of that parental quality time. Fear is about the only area where closeness can abound, since otherwise you are too busy taking them back to bed. Locked doors mean nothing, since they will just stand outside your room and yell, “Momma, Dad, Momma, Dad, Momma, Dad, etc., etc.” This of course continues while you scramble around trying to hide the candles and champagne. Not until you open the door and yell with a frustrated “WHAT!!” will the child cease the incessant chant. This is when you really come unglued since the child looks at you and says, “but I heard something,” or “Can I have a drink of water?”
Oh, yeah, togetherness takes a real beating with kids around. It makes you wonder where they came from in the first place.... The first one I can see, since life was carefree and time seemed infinite, but the second? My wife complains now that she can’t even get into or out of the bathroom by herself. This is all part of every child’s inherent and instinctive ability to disrupt. Got to go to the bathroom? Hah, a kid will be there ahead of you! Want to have a snack? Hah, a kid will know and want whatever you are having. Want intimate moments with your spouse? What, are you kidding!!
Kids have radar! They know whenever you are about to indulge yourself with food, drink, sleep, sex, or even a long bath. When is the last time you saw a parent eat a hot meal? At our house, the butt proximity warning devices (the kids) go off the minute my wife or I have our butts hit the chair. “Can I have more juice, etc.” There is always something, and naturally the kids never run out, or at least mention it, until you have just returned with the refill for the first one. They watch in great amusement while they tag team you for all sorts of stuff. We have gotten a little better control of this, since we make the oldest boy get up for the two little ones, and then just ignore the oldest. If he can’t get it by now, then he probably doesn’t need it......
As a note, I will remind the reader that this was written originally in 1997. The children were little, and well, rather under foot. Someday, I’ll have to write something about the flip side to this problem, by writing about the empty nest. We just aren’t quite there yet, since most of our children are now gone from the home, with most of these things now happening to them. (At least my Daughter has it happening to her. Yes, the Parental Curse, you know the one: “Someday I hope you have one just like you!”) ~ Michael S. Pauley