To mix some metaphors, parenting is a lot like a circus act. You’re juggling two apples, three apples, four. One falls, you lose your rhythm, but you pick it up and start over. The next time one falls, you’re able to pick it up while keeping the other three in motion. You keep going. Eventually no apples drop your entire act, and you breathe a sigh of relief.
Then, they up the ante on you.
Some crack-pot ringmaster throws in a fifth apple. A sixth. Maybe a poodle. And a flaming baton. Sometimes a bowling ball.
But you just keep going, and hope that poodle doesn’t catch on fire too.
Two case studies:
- Diaper changing. First, you’re just trying to get the hang of it with a baby that lies there, practically motionless. The first couple of days it takes you a solid 10 minutes for the whole process. Months pass, and you gain confidence and skill akin to a pit crew at the Indy 500. Tires off, tires on, back on the track. Then, they get wiggly. And curious, and indignant. And it’s like wrestling a bowl of spaghetti to get them to lay flat on their back for longer than 3 seconds. (And you only need 15 seconds, if they could just hold on that long, dangit!) To the point where we now keep toys on the changing table specifically to hand him as a means of distraction. (Which he has now grown accustomed to and starts screaming immediately upon being laid flat on the table until you hand him his toy.) His toy, by the way, is an old prescription pill bottle filled with three pennies. One, because it makes a great noise when shaken, and two, because…
- Baby toys. I remember trying to get Teddy to play with toys when he was just a couple of months old. Even just getting him to reach or grip was a success. We would dangle the toys and play with them and ooo and aaaa to try to get him interested. Now he is a swift and unrelenting pick-pocket with an innate knowledge of which things exactly he is NOT supposed to play with. Turn your back for a second, he is chewing on one of those real antler dog bones. Or crawling for the electrical cords. Or, his absolute favorite, chewing remote controls. We’ve now learned our lesson. We don’t introduce toys anymore as exciting or fun. We introduce them as something mundane that he is not allowed to play with. Last week, we bought a universal programmable remote with absolutely no intention of programming it. Instead, we pretended to change the channel with it and then absent-mindedly leave it in places he could reach. Yes, we really did this. (Can’t believe I’m admitting to it…) He spent the rest of the day crawling around with it sticking out of his mouth, happy as a clam.
Yep, it’s amazing what a difference ten months makes. And if that isn’t enough, just look at these photos comparison: