Column: Brush your teeth. I am not telling you again.May 30, 2013
By JASON RECKER
Herald Enterprise Editor
Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before. And you probably have. Parenting isn’t easy.
I am not telling you again. I’m not. So go to the bathroom and stop whining.
If there is anything more frustrating, more challenging, more confusing, I have yet to encounter it. Don’t feel sorry for me. Nobody made my wife and me have three children. And they are rewarding and uplifting and amazing. So don’t hug me. Just let me know that your kids scream about the pineapple at breakfast, too. The chunks are too big. It tastes just like the pineapple you ate yesterday. No, you can’t have the Pop-Tart until you eat the pineapple. So eat it, and hustle, because we have to get out the door so you’re not late for school. Yes, it does matter if you’re late. Lets go. Let’s move. Let’s go.
I am not telling you again. Yes, I will. I always tell her again. I should probably give her more than 10 seconds to respond.
Prospective parents should have to pass a test before they are allowed to procreate. Except I’m not sure I would have passed. I never had patience.
How was school? Leave you alone? I can’t leave you alone. It’s my job to pester you. You’re my responsibility, and it’s a pretty big deal to be in charge of a human life. It’s not like owning a gerbil. So how was school? Fine, I’ll leave you alone.
Did you say my name? What do you mean what took me so long? You said to leave you alone. Sure, I can cover you up. No, I’m not lying in your bed. No, it’s not supposed to storm. Fine, I’ll leave a light on. Yes, I’ll lie in your bed. Just for a few minutes. Truthfully, I was hoping she’d ask.
She’s sleeping. The Cardinals are playing. Couch. Remote. Eat something bad for me. I used to feel guilty about this alone time. Should I be so glad they’re asleep?
Yes, I’ll be there. Give me a minute. Pause. DVR made parenting easier. A drink, sure. You want ice? Why? It’s 10 o’clock. You need sleep, not cold water. Take a sip. Not so much, or you’ll pee in bed. Nothing is worse. Wait, yes, something is probably worse.
You have three seconds. One. Two...
It’s like a treadmill stuck on high. I’ve run a marathon, two actually. Sometimes, I think those were easier than Tuesday nights. Snack. Homework. No, you cannot have a bag of marshmallows for a snack. Yes, you have to do all of these flash cards. Math isn’t easy. I was never good at it. In fact, I couldn’t really stand it. Should I tell her that? Don’t get upset. Nine plus six is indeed 15. Well done. Gymnastics. She might have sprained her wrist on a cartwheel. I don’t know what happened, but she is in tears. Yes, she’ll be OK. I think. I hope, anyway. Turkey sandwiches in the car. Eat quick, but don’t make a mess. More pretzels? That’s all I have. Drink is right here. I’m out of pretzels. Me, forget dessert? This isn’t my first rodeo, kids. Your glove? I think it’s in the back. I hope, anyway. T-ball practice. Stop playing in the dirt. Step and throw. Perfect. That’s my girl! Where are you going? Stay at first base. Come back. Come back here. Come. Back. Here. Now. Ugh. That’s my girl.
What were Tuesday nights like seven years ago? What the hell did I do with all that time? I can’t remember life before children. I have lost my mind.
I’m talking to mom. Please stop yelling. Wonder what the neighbors think. Please stop singing. Her singing is sweet, really. She knows all the words. Mom is on the phone. Can’t you see that? The kitchen does not stink. Take a bite. That’s the rule. Well, that’s the rule. If you don’t like — you don’t like it? What do you like? Pizza. Pigs in a blanket. Wait, one of you likes the pigs but not the blankets. What are your names? What was I going to do? Where is mom? I need a secretary, a psychiatrist, blood pressure medication. I need Dairy Queen. No, you do not deserve ice cream just because you brushed your teeth without complaining. You don’t get a certificate of achievement for doing what you’re supposed to do. I will not contribute to the wussification of America.
Yes, we can play basketball in the driveway. Wait, your baby sister is up. I need to give her a pacifier. I need to walk the dog. I don’t know where the iPad is. Your ponytail isn’t tight enough? Let me guess: I picked out the wrong shorts. I know this won’t get any easier when they are all teenagers. Don’t remind me. Your sister. She’s awake. Your mom. I’ve barely talked to her all day. We need a date. Can you just let mom and me finish this conversation? Did you just say what I think you said? Go to your room. It’s not my job to be your friend. It’s my job to teach you. Wait, what if they hate me? Like forever. I am bad at this.
Just checked on them. Three-for-three. Snoozing. Can I wake them? We need a rewind button. I could use one more hug.
Jason Recker is The Herald’s enterprise editor. When the kids are sleeping, he eats Pop-Tarts. Lots of them. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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