By: Shannon Ralph
My children are weird. I know, all parents think their children are weird. But mine truly are. Certifiably insane. And the worst part is that I think Ruanita and I are feeding their insanity. We are aiding and abetting their derangement. We are enablers of the worst possible kind. We allow their weirdnesses to root and flourish because, frankly, it is easier than the alternative. Please allow me to provide a couple of examples of my children’s utter lunacy and my egregious parenting. When I am finished, I think you will come to the conclusion that your own children are paragons of sanity and reason when compared to mine.
Sophie will not eat the generic children’s vitamins we buy for the kids. Despite their cute animal shapes and fruity flavors, she insists that they are “yucky”. And if we attempt to give her one, she will stick her tongue out and grimace as the vitamin dangles precariously on the tip of her tongue, refusing to chew it up as purple drool cascades down her chin. As a result, Sophie gets her very own bottle of gummy princess vitamins. It beats spending precious hours trying to get the purple drool stains out of her clothing.
Nicholas refuses to brush his teeth if there are “bubbles” in his toothpaste. What causes bubbles to form on the surface of his toothpaste? Running a toothbrush under water. As everyone knows, you have to wet a toothbrush prior to brushing your teeth. Otherwise, it will be a nasty dry mess in your mouth. With my other two children, I will apply the toothpaste to their toothbrushes, run them under the water quickly, and hand the toothbrush to them to begin brushing. This does not work with Nicholas. He will inspect his toothbrush for bubbles. If he finds even the tiniest hint of bubbles, he will toss his toothbrush in the sink (or sometimes on the floor) and run screaming from the bathroom. As a result, I let him wet his own toothbrush. I let him, with the utmost of concentration, turn on the bathroom faucet to allow mere dribbles to fall. This process can take a while, as he is meticulous about getting the water flow exactly right before he will allow the water to touch his toothbrush. He is also meticulous about brushing his teeth. Eventually, as we near the half-hour mark, I will inevitably grab his toothbrush from his foaming mouth in frustration and insist that he is done. I believe I might be the only parent on this planet who has to ration her child’s dental hygiene.
Lucas needs a new bike. He has outgrown his small bike from last summer. He still refuses, however, to learn to ride a bike without training wheels. At eight years old and tall for a boy his age, he looks a bit ridiculous riding a bike with training wheels. Of course, I would not tell him that. I have encouraged him to let me take the training wheels off, but he screams out in fear at the mere mention of attempting to learn to ride a bike. When we have looked at bikes in the stores, we have found that bikes in the size Lucas needs simply do not come with training wheels. I actually had to walk Lucas to the bike aisle at Target and show him that we can purchase training wheels independently that can be installed on any bike at all. Then, and only then, would he concede and allow us to buy him a new bike. Again, I must be the only parent on this planet who has to beg my child to let me buy him a new bike.
Nicholas insists that he does not need to be “tucked in” at night. He is okay with getting hugs and kisses after he gets in bed. He is okay with snuggles and I Love Yous and Sweet Dreams. He is not, however, okay with being “tucked in”. While I tuck my other two children in, I have to be very careful not to use the T word in Nicholas’s presence. If I slip up and do so, Nicholas will immediately jump up from his bed, throw himself on the floor, and refuse to get back into bed because he, in no uncertain terms, does NOT need to be tucked in. So I must choose my words carefully at bedtime.
We have two bathrooms in our house. One on the main level and one upstairs. Lucas is afraid to go to the upstairs bathroom by himself. If the downstairs bathroom is occupied and he really needs to go, he asks me to go upstairs with him. Frankly, most of the time, I am busy and simply do not want to stop what I am doing to escort my eight-year-old son to the toilet. So I will make Sophie go with him. This seems to work for Lucas. I am not sure what he thinks his little sister will be able to protect him from, but she apparently waylays his fears. And she is more than willing to go, often patting Lucas on the back and saying, “It’s okay Lucas, I will protect you.” Weird, but sweet.
Nicholas refuses to eat grilled hot dogs. The grill marks on the hot dog offend him. As a result, we have to either run his grilled hot dog under water to remove any offending black marks before placing it in his bun, or boil a hot dog on the stovetop for him while the rest of the family eats our deliciously grill-marked dogs. And yes, I have been known to do both of these things on numerous occasions. Sometimes keeping the peace is worth catering to a little bit of madness.
Sophie likes to go to bed with me at night. I, however, do not like to go to bed with her. Every night, after I tuck her into bed, she will come out of her room and ask me if she can go upstairs to bed with me when I go. Rather than simply telling her no, she cannot go with me because she is a beast of the most fearsome kind to sleep with, I tell her yes. I tell her yes with the absolute intention of NOT taking her upstairs with me. I tell her yes, she can go upstairs with me if she stays in her own bed until I go upstairs. I will then stay up and stay put in the living room until she is snoring peacefully in her own bed. Then, and only then, will I go to bed. Alone. This is our nightly ritual. She has yet to catch on. Weird? Yes. Necessary to maintain my sanity? Yes. Good parenting technique? Ummm….probably not so much.