I often wake up in the middle of the night, panicked that I still have a googlemillion things left to teach my daughter, and only 8 more years until she goes to college where everything I have taught her will be turned into a Bucket List of Things I Should Do to Freak Out my Mom. For example, I keep forgetting to tell her to, “always check for toilet paper before you pull your pants down.” Of course, I know this is important, and I am 44 years old – and I still forget to check.
In fact, I think I’ve had to ask my own daughter if she can “spare a square” a couple of times.
So, this not only means that I need to teach her a googlemillion things, but I need to repeat each thing a googlemillion times so it will finally sink in and she will make it to 44 years old without ever having found herself in a bathroom stall at Dairy Queen begging for toilet paper from her daughter.
My ineptitude as a mother reveals itself daily, but even I was horrified by my own failings a couple of nights ago when reading to 10-year-old Dimples from The Fire Chronicle before she went to bed.
“The universe is a mass of constantly expanding energy, and one day it will collapse upon itself. Like a cake left too long in the oven.”
“Why would you put a cake in the oven?” she derisively interrupted.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked. Then I thought, maybe she means after it’s already frosted and ready to eat. “Not after it’s made. You know, when you’re baking it.”
Oh. My. God. My 10-year-old child does not know that cakes are made by baking them in the oven. *
I started hyperventilating.
“Where did you think cakes came from?” I managed to splurt out.
I think I blacked out.
Later that evening, as I surfed the net in search for some excerpts from Mommy Dearest to make myself feel better, I realized that I actually have made cakes with her before. It’s been awhile, but we did it together for a couple of her birthdays.
Okay. They were 5 and 6 years ago. But still.
This led me to the conclusion that it is a complete waste of time to try to be a good mother to your child before the age of 6. They remember none of it, show absolutely no gratitude, and by the time they develop any kind of memory retention, you will be too burned out to continue in the vein in which you started.
A better plan is to keep a notebook of important advice, which you can bestow upon them the first day they realize you have taught them absolutely nothing.
Here’s a list to get you started:
#1. Always check for toilet paper before you pull down your pants. Because one day your momma won’t be there to bring you some more.
Deuce. Cakes do not grow on trees.
III. When backing out of a Kroger’s parking spot, do not keep looking behind you, or your front end will dent your neighbor’s car, and you will then be faced with the dilemma of either leaving a note or driving away in shame and having that guilt on your conscience for the rest of your life.
This is just a suggested list. You can write whatever you want. But you might have to pay the price if you don’t include number III. Insurance for teenagers is expensive. I’m just sayin’.
I’ve come to the conclusion that being the Best Parent in the World is all a matter of timing – and media coverage.
Sure, these parents who built a roller coaster for their kids in the backyard are being touted as the epitome of great parents. But when this PVC pipe construction one day collapses just as the kid reaches the peak and the poor child comes crashing down, whose door do you think Child Protective Services will be knocking on?
Even more likely, how long will this kid be enamored with his new toy before he demands something bigger and better? How many times will it take before he develops a tolerance for that roller coaster rush, and the whole experience becomes a yawning bore?
Who will he cite during his adult therapy sessions for his insatiable quest to get involved in an endless number of life-threatening activities, causing his wife to leave him for the boring, but stable accountant that lives next door?
Best Parent in the World is a temporary title that lasts as long as a kid is happy. And no kid is happy forever. In fact, they are rarely happy for longer than 47 minutes, according to my experienced calculations.
The good news is that it works the other way too. When my daughter tells me that I’m the Worst Parent in the World. Ever. Since Time Began – well, she hasn’t actually called me that out loud, just glowered it pretty effectively, like today when I said that I was not buying her any more tops for school and she decided to abandon her locked iPad (yes, thanks to the former Best Parent in the World, she has my old iPad) in the room I was in, loudly playing Justin Bieber as punishment – I console myself that someone else will earn that honor fairly soon. And, more than likely, their shame will be posted on YouTube.
My Best Parent in the World moments will never be filmed, and may never even be appropriately acknowledged by Dimples. But all I have to do is flip through some reality T.V. on the remote, and I am quite happy to leave the fame and fortune to the moms on Toddlers and Tiaras or to Kris and Bruce on The Kardashians.
I’m fine with not being the Best Parent in the World. My greatest wish is that some day my daughter will build a roller coaster for me in the backyard.
Actually, I’d be fine if she just comes around to sit in my backyard with me every once in awhile.
And, if she doesn’t marry Justin Bieber.
*Sigh* Mattresses. Yep. Again. In addition to the Boomerang Mattress in our master bedroom, we also bought two new ones for two full-sized, antique beds in the guest bedroom. Mattresses wholeheartedly approved by my husband, Cap’n Firepants. ALL of our mattresses this summer have been approved by Cap’n “Goldilocks” Firepants. I am hereby BANNING Cap’n Firepants from any more mattress approving.
Last night, Dimples (9) had a friend over. They slept in the guest bedroom so they could each have a bed. I think you know where this is going…
Dimples: Mom, can we do what we used to do in the old days (one month ago) when I have friends over? You know, sleep in my room, and pull out the twin-sized mattress under my bed?
Me: What’s wrong with the brand new mattresses we just had delivered? With the bedding that I just washed and put on? And the beds that are side by side so you can talk to each other and not worry about stepping on someone’s face in the middle of the night?
Dimples: Those mattresses are not comfortable. They are way too hard.
Would you forgive me, Loyal Readers, if I launched into a tirade about these mattresses that her father chose (and she also, at one point approved), about 9-year-olds and 40-year-olds being too darn picky, and about my plans to go live with Grandma at the Independent/Assisted Living home where I could have my own twin bed and mattress, 3 meals a day that I don’t have to prepare, and I won’t have to face the same 2 mattress delivery men when they are called to our house for the 5th time this summer?!!!!!
Recently, I had to break some potentially unsatisfying news to my 9 year old daughter, Dimples. Friends of this blog may recall my story of the day I reluctantly admitted to her that I am, indeed, Santa Claus, and her subsequent reply, “Does Daddy know?” Her delighted response to my revelation was a great relief, for I feared that my confession might scar her for life. I should have learned then that Dimples is no ordinary child.
Unbeknownst to Dimples, I had been keeping a secret from her for the last three months. The reasons for keeping this confidential are complicated, and gave me no pleasure. But, I finally felt that the time had come to let Dimples in on what was going on.
(Before I continue, let me assure all of you that I am not pregnant, nor am I dying from some dreaded disease.)
I decided to take Dimples out for some frozen yogurt to soften the blow. After we served ourselves, we sat down, and I said, “I have something I need to tell you.”
“Is it good or bad?” she immediately asked, slightly frowning.
“Well, I guess it’s probably both.” I paused. “Your GT teacher is leaving next year. She is going to move to the new school they are building.”
Dimples loves her GT (Gifted and Talented) teacher. I love her GT teacher. They have been together for three years now, and Dimples always has exciting things to report from their weekly classes. I knew she would not find this to be good news.
But Dimples smiled wide, showing both her famous dimples, and did a sitting jump in her seat.
“You’re not happy your teacher is leaving, are you?” I said, puzzled.
“No, but I’m happy you are taking her place!” she loudly cheered.
And she was right. I had been hired to replace her GT teacher, news that is still slightly daunting to me despite the fact that I will be forgoing a 20 minute commute for a now leisurely walk to school.
“How did you know?” I asked. She shrugged. But she was happy – thrilled, it seemed, that I would be teaching her once a week for her last year in elementary school.
Then she took another big scoop of strawberries and yogurt, and said, “Does Daddy know?”
Now, that would have been really funny if I had just told her I was pregnant…