As dads and moms, we’re all familiar with the “parenting gods.” Cousins of the “golf gods,” who are constantly reminding golfers that any success they have on the course is merely a gift from said gods, the parenting gods are constantly reminding parents that any peace they have on a daily basis is a similar, if not more important, gift.
The first few months of parenting are the gods’ way of telling you who is boss. “Thou shall not sleep,” of course, is the first commandment of early parenting. Just like golfers may feel “they finally get the game” after a couple of pars and a birdie, as parents we learn early (and often) that a few days, weeks or even months of relative calm do not mean we’ve mastered the parenting thing.
When K-Man was eight, nine or 10 months old, G and I went out for a big night on the town. This was our first true bender since his birth. Sure, we had gone out before for date nights or something similar, but this was a night out with great friends, great wine and a pregnant designated driver. In short, it was a night built for memories. And it was memorable, but for the wrong reasons.
We felt we were ready for a night like this because we had mastered K-Man and his schedule. He was a stud sleeper. He was a happy little guy. We had it made. The following morning, with my head pounding from two, maybe three bottles of wine, I awoke to find K-Man jumping up and down on his crib and covered – head to toe – in poop. As I’ve written previously, he looked like Mel Gibson’s William Wallace character in “Braveheart” – except K-Man’s face was painted with poop instead of ink (or whatever Gibson was wearing).
The parenting gods had made their point. “You know nothing. You will always know nothing. And just when you think you know everything, we’ll let you know that you know nothing again.”
I suppose the dreaded “terrible twos” (a term I despise, by the way) is another gift from the gods. One day our sweet little two-year-old angels discover that they are capable of spitting fire, stomping their feet violently enough to do structural damage and screaming at decibel levels that are the envy of 1980s heavy metal hair bands. And with each tantrum, somewhere, the parenting gods high-five their golf gods' cousins, who simultaneously just caused some poor bastard to miss a two-foot putt (which by the way would have allowed him to break 90 for the first time).
The parenting gods aren’t all mean, though. Giving us the terrible twos or a face full of poop simply allows us to have the perspective to absolutely love the good times. It’s only when we start taking those good times for granted that we get the reminders of “what can and might be.”
This weekend is a great example. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner with friends on Friday night. Saturday saw a trip to visit the Easter Bunny (with more friends), lots of time playing on a fire engine and dinner at G’s parent’s house. And Sunday consisted of another Easter fair and a BBQ at our house with more friends.
K-Man, who has been skipping his naps, even took a three-hour siesta on Sunday. When he woke up, I told G, “That’s the secret. Gotta start getting him down earlier. We know this, but we’ve been bad about making it happen. We’re back on track.”
I should know better. Those parenting gods are always listening. “What? Think you’re back on track? Hah!" Oh, it would have been easy for them to simply keep K-Man from going down on Sunday night, but that makes him suffer as much as it does us – and the gods don’t want that. No. Those parenting gods had a much better plan in store for us.
Tonight, for the first time ever – K-Man crapped in the tub. My bad. Lesson learned. (And, yes, don’t get me wrong…I feel incredibly fortunate that it’s taken two-and-a-half years for K-Man to discover the bathtub as toilet.) Sorry parenting gods. I’ll try not to let it happen again.