This is why we don’t stick our hand in the toaster

The pitter-patter of little feet. This is what is promised to you when you become a parent. The sound that will fill your house, night and day.

And it truly is one of the greatest sounds in the world.

Unfortunately, this sound is accompanied by a whole orchestra of other sounds that are much less talked about, let alone celebrated. And in our house right now, that pitter-patter is followed by much bigger pitter-patter and an exhausted voice repeating over and over:

No.

Don’t.

Stop.

And perhaps the most frequently heard phrase in our home:

Why? Just…why?

no1

Because what no one tells you when you’re pregnant is that babies grow up to be toddlers. And being the parent of a toddler means being the perpetual bad guy. My whole life has been reduced to telling a tiny version of myself to knock it the hell off.

And it’s exhausting. Not to mention spirit-crushing for both of us. I want to let him explore and discover the world on his own terms. The only problem is “his terms” always means eating dog poop and climbing up to the top of highly unstable objects and running toward oncoming traffic. All activities that would likely result in his untimely death.

And I think we can all agree that his death would reflect fairly poorly on my skills as a mother.

And so, it’s the constant refrain:

No.

Don’t.

Stop.

Why can’t you destroy Daddy’s books for once?

There for a while I did try to turn a positive spin on these moments like all those new age-y parenting books I never read say you should.

“It FRUSTRATES me when you smear poop onto your head, sweetie.”

“I understand that throwing oatmeal against the wall is fun but then Mommy has to use a freaking chisel to get it off said wall and I’d much rather use that time to do something productive, like watch 11 consecutive episodes of ‘American Horror Story’ on Netflix.”

“Drinking the milk out of a sippy cup that’s been missing for three days just isn’t healthy, pumpkin. Plus, that ER doctor was super judgmental of my parenting skills the last time you did this, remember? Please don’t make me face him again.”

But here’s the thing: Children don’t give a crap. About your feelings. About your time. About your sanity. You can’t reason with them. They just want to throw oatmeal and make feces art and eat rancid chunks of milk simply because they can. Because they are tiny, tiny little savages.

And, I mean, who can blame them? Hell, I’d probably throw my oatmeal against the wall too if it was societally acceptable and wouldn’t get me thrown in the looney bin. It makes a fantastic “thwap” sound.

But one of us has to be the adult. And since I’m the one who doesn’t feel an overwhelming desire to stick my whole hand in the toaster, that duty falls to me.

No.

Don’t.

Stop.

Put your penis away, please.

On the plus side, as much as it sucks to be the perpetual bad guy, at least you aren’t just any bad guy. Oh no. You are no low-level petty thug. You are the kingpin. The Mafia boss. The corrupt police chief.

You are Khaleesi, with huge, fire-breathing dragons on your shoulders.

Your power is absolute.

As an example, let me just point out that yesterday the northeast corner of our dining room was just your average, every day corner. But today, with a mere finger point from my all-powerful finger, I turned it into a toddler torture chamber. Or at least that’s what I’m assuming passers-by thought when they heard the pained howls and cries of mercy my kid belted out when I told him to go stand in said corner as punishment for hiding the TV remote in his dirty diaper.

Sometimes, it’s good to be (the evil) king.

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