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jannica merrit

humor. honesty. sometimes both.

Month

September 2016

My Children Have A Death Wish

I don’t understand it. They don’t seem like depressed or overly angry children (except when I prematurely turn off Voltron on Amazon Prime).  Really, they don’t.  They aren’t thrilled when Mommy gets distracted and dinner is late, or they really didn’t want to stop playing to use the potty or get a diaper change…but they don’t seem like children who would wish to end it all.

So, I can’t understand the literal attraction to basically anything that could kill or maim them.

Knives and scissors.  The sharper and more lethal, the better.  The source is unimportant. Kitchen, desk, pocket of careless visitor…it doesn’t matter as long as whatever they find is sharp enough to gut a large fish in under ten seconds.

High places.  This is all relative to how tall the child is; the key is that it must be an unreasonable height for someone of their size and age.  For my preschooler, it’s got to be at least higher than Mommy’s head.  For my toddler, one to two times her height is preferable.  Extra enjoyment if the thing is rickety; as in the second to the top shelf of the cat lounging tree which is meant to hold a cat up to twenty pounds, and not a thirty-three pound child, which sways back and forth like a palm frond in a hurricane when he confidently stands atop it.  The toddler is happy to perch on an end table with a lamp surrounded by unforgiving tile floor.

Running in traffic.  Parking lots or the average residential neighborhood alike are the perfect opportunity for attempting to get away from their mother’s manacle-grasp, so he can run freely and without looking into the very same area that cars and trucks regularly drive.

Any vitamin not in a child proof container.  I don’t know how that one slipped by me, but sitting on my kitchen counter a few days ago is my preschooler holding a bottle of B vitamins that somehow did not have a child proof lid (which I thought they were all supposed to have!), about to conduct a scientific experiment on taking high levels of B vitamins.

Seat belts.  My preschooler has found if he pushes hard enough, he can put the chest clip in his lap, freeing his arms and defeating most of the purpose of securing him in a car seat.  This is a fun exercise in independence and control for him; an exercise in fear and what if’s for me.

It’s not a game I understand; though they have shown me the rules.  The gauntlet has been thrown down; and it is my battle to win in protecting my children from their current worst enemy—themselves.

Unexpected Battles of Parenthood

There were a lot of things I expected I would have battles with my kids over; most of them have not been as bad as I expected. But then there are the unexpected battles of parenthood.  The ones that hit you over the head when you least expect it.

Speaking of which, being hit over the head literally, by my then-toddler with his corn popper toy.  Made of a solid unforgiving plastic.  Perfect for lining up the target (i.e. my head) and giving it a good wallop. Struck so hard I saw stars, my son looked quizzically at me after launching his successful attack, wondering why Mommy was moaning.

A huge battle is the remote control.  I never thought I would be battling a 3 year old for a remote control.  And especially not so passionately. My idea that the device was the bastion of adults until at least the teen years now seems completely naïve.   Along that line, the constant arguments over which streaming service carries his momentarily favorite cartoon.  “Nooooooo, not Amazon!  Mom, it’s Netflix!  Power Rangers is on Netflix!”

One we may never agree on is which color is really yellow.  I know my yellow.  Really, kid, I have been around so much longer than you and I do know my yellow when I see it, even when you are thoroughly convinced the crayon called Summer Ocean is yellow; it still is not and you are wrong.

The fierceness of the personal hygiene battles has surprised me; where teeth brushing is experienced as a form of child abuse akin to waterboarding and hair brushing is viewed as an attempt to maim. The screams, hands to the head and mouth, and evasive maneuvers begin long before brush touches teeth or scalp.

I expected my children to fight. I did. But as a grown “only child”, I never expected the sudden random sibling violence that erupts for no apparent reason.  Sudden kicks worthy of an Olympic level soccer player from my preschooler to my unsuspecting toddler, knocking her off couches and beds are his norm.

Who knew my water bottle would draw children to it like grape juice to white carpeting?  I dream of sitting down with an ice cold bottle of water and reaching for it twenty minutes later and having it still be where I left it.  It’s akin to a winning Powerball ticket, I realize, but there you have it.

While these are some of the unexpected ones, there are some I expected that haven’t come, at least not yet.  I am certain there are many more to come, and I will be surprised by most, if not all, of them.

Damned Little Box

 

I died a little with you. That’s figurative. But you died. That’s literal.

And all I have left is a damn little box that I picked up from the vet today.  I don’t have you. I will never hold you in my arms again. I will never brush your soft long fur, or feel your small body trembling with a purr while you sit on my lap again. You will never again look on me with those quizzical green eyes.  All I have are the memories now.

You were a part of every day of my life, wound into the ordinary moments, while you lived and I loved you. You were my furry “child” when my children of today were just glimmers in my mind.

I knew you from a tiny, feisty little abandoned kitten. I shared my home with a tiny ball of fur and attitude as you grew into a sweet and poised young cat. 

And then as you aged, slowed down and became firmer in your ways and turned into a crotchety little old lady, demanding to sit not only on my shoulder when I ate on the couch, but so far forward I could almost see only you, waiting for a moment to swipe at my spoon.  I’m sorry now for the times I pushed you away; I would share all my ice cream with you now.

I feel your loss in all the places in my life where you aren’t anymore.  In the sidelong glimpses when I think I see you for a split second before I remember.

Your last weeks, I spoiled you. Anything to get you to eat. And it worked. But only for a few days. The cortisone injection, and the subcutaneous fluids, the amoxicillin, and the oral steroids.  I keep all those little bottles in my kitchen and the bag of Sodium Chloride in my bathroom; I can’t cut those cords yet. I can’t quite accept that you will never need them again.

My children are too young.  Too young to know you, grieve you, miss you.  Only your name is recognizable to my oldest and he has no concept that you are gone/of death.  So, I grieve you alone.  Alone in the house where you lived and I loved you.  Alone in the corner where I fed you the special canned food for sick kitties while fighting off the others who wanted it.  Alone on my couch, eating without your thin body curled over my shoulder.  Empty in the corners where you liked to sleep.  Empty lap where you would curl up at inconvenient times and I would sit still, never knowing which would be my last cuddle.  Missing your sweet little presence and demanding ways.  I stare at your damned little box and it isn’t you anymore; just the ashes of our love.

RIP my little princess. 

Low Expectations: The Key to a Happy Life

 

I am about to give you some free, yet infinitely valuable advice.  I am going to share my secret on living a happy, successful, and fulfilled life:

Low expectations.

That’s right. Low expectations.  Setting the bar too high is just a recipe for disappointment and failure.  Set that bar LOW!  If you aren’t meeting your goals, don’t worry, don’t fuss; lower that bar!

This is especially helpful in parenting small children.  It is probably even more helpful with teenagers, but I am not there yet, and I don’t advise you to wait nine years to find out how I will do it when you can lower the bar and enjoy your life today!

Here are some examples from my life where a low bar has led to contentment and happiness:

I took my two small children, aged one and four, to Waffle House by myself.  That’s right, by myself.  Now some would have looked at my daughter, with grits in her hair and scrambled egg smeared across her face, onesie, and feet, and not been happy.  Some would have observed my son, “drinking” from the syrup-sticky sugar dispenser, and I thought I didn’t have it all under control.  Some might have thought that my daughter’s screams (her word for “feed me immediately please Mommy”) were cries for a deeper sort of help.  Some might have seen the overturned glass dripping water and ice cubes on the floor and felt I was somehow in over my head.  But, I know my children and I set the bar low.  We all got something to eat and Waffle House was still standing when we were finished means a complete success!

Cleaning my house is another area lowered expectations have served me well.  Now some would see my house and shudder at the post-Apocalyptic state; it might depress them or even make them franticly call Merry Maids. Toys are covering every conceivable surface, and the floor underneath piled high with half a pound of sand from the backyard sandbox with a plastic shovel standing upright like a Veteran’s Memorial.  The number of plastic, child-friendly plates and lidless sippy cups on the floor could fill a dishwasher—or my empty cupboards. But am I unhappy? Heck, no!  I can step over things like an Olympic pro.  I can look the other way and PRETEND we are that house from HGTV.

And lastly, I will briefly mention head counts: another invaluable parenting tool.  Having the same number of kids alive at the end of the day as you started with is awesome!  If they are the same kids as you started out with; even better!  If not, well, you tried. Bonus points go to the Mom whose morning to evening pet stats stay the same. High five!

Go on!  Lower those expectations and live a happy life!

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