The Poop! – The first black tar that comes out of your child is shocking. After that the months are a blur but the amount of poop you’re handling and butt you’re wiping is etched in your brain. The quantity increases exponentially with each increasing size of diaper. When you’re at a 4 and you find a leftover NB on the bottom of the diaper bag that you finally have a free minute to clean out, you wonder how the NB fit on your baby, let alone hold any poop. You try to stay ahead of the tide of poop and be prepared to move up a size before the quantity becomes overwhelming, but it’s futile. When you least expect it (meaning when you have no change of clothes available and you’re in the biggest rush), the poop will find its way out of your toddler’s clothing much like the Blob found its way out of each building that they tried to contain it in. If you haven’t experienced the poop crawling up baby’s back and exiting through its hair and neckline, you haven’t lived!
The Meltdowns! – Your child is having the best day. You haven’t seen him so happy-go-lucky and carefree. He is enjoying every moment of quality time with you, his siblings, and anyone else who we meet along the way. You’re thinking to yourself, “This is so great. I must be doing something right. And I lucked out with such a healthy, normal kid!” Then it happens. You accidentally toss out the wrapper of his granola bar with an eighth of an ounce of unfinished bar still lodged in the unripped end of the wrapper. You didn’t see it in there. You have a brand new bar, with six yummy ounces all waiting to be devoured. But no matter. The ground shakes and the sky falls, as all hell breaks loose. You see the two eyes of your offspring merge into one as the deafening sounds explode and the body goes limp in a pile right in front of you and other horrified spectators. The show goes on for what seems like eternity before the anger turns into a cold shoulder with intermittent shuttering as the emotions wind down. The magic is gone, and all you can do is hope that there will be another day soon when it will return. You walk on eggshells the rest of the day, and breathe a sigh of relief when the bedroom door is closed after the last good night.
The Activities! – Who knew there were so many activities for kids in this world? Maybe it’s because we live in the shadow of a mayor metropolis (Los Angeles) whereas my childhood was in a very rural area (upstate New York), but who has choices like this? Is this normal to have five different activities to choose from for each half of each weekend day? And websites that are geared toward letting parents know what is available (i.e. Red Tricycle). For slow half days you always have the fallbacks like Disneyland, Santa Monica Pier, the beach, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Kidspace, the Zoo, or Underwood Farms. Of course that’s if you don’t have a play date planned with your child’s friend, or friend of a friend, or sibling of a friend. Or with one of the above mentioned does not have a fabulous birthday party to which your child is invited. If you have relatives nearby that’s always an intermittent visit. Then there’s always the library! The point is that all these venues and events have been created for the sole purpose of getting you sanely to around eight or nine o’clock at night, where it’s then all up to you to “put down” your child. Personally I’m waiting for someone to devise a “put down” party.
The Love! – I used to hear parents say that they would gladly lose a leg for their child, or even give up their life, and I would kind of chuckle to myself. I like my legs, and I’m in no rush to end my life. But now that I’m almost seven years and three boys into the whole parenting thing, I would throw in a kidney, an eyeball, and a tongue for them. Every day I’m doing things that I would never have imagined myself doing before the boys were here. Scoping out the road as we make our way across the intersection. Putting the texting machine (i.e. my cellphone) in the trunk as I drive the boys around town. Catching a sneezeful of snot in my bare hand so my sniffly older son will not infect my still healthy youngest. But those pale in comparison to the ways that my sons show their love to me. Asking, “Can we snuggle?” as we catch the last bit of TV before bed. Running over and making sure I’m okay when I hit my head on the corner of an opened cabinet door. Yelling, “I love you, Daddy!!!” out the front door as I start on my jog down to the beach, over and over again until I am simply too far away to hear that it’s still happening. It is surprise number 4 that makes surprises 1, 2, and 3 so easy to deal with. I just hope I’m ready for 5, 6, and 7.