Dallas, my sweet and demandingly snugglesome, suddenly rambunctious, super talkative and suggestively Elaine-style dancing (don't ask), child is five years old. WOW - I have NO idea how or when that happened. The reason I say this is not because I don't remember every crazed, rage engendering three-year-old tantrum (like that one when it was just he and I at the grocery store and I had to leave all of the perishable goods in the cart and drag him kicking and screaming to the car, give him a "stern talking to" and drag him back into the store, relocate the abandoned cart and finish ticking off the grocery list while he sobbed loudly...still recovering from that one, obvi) or back to the infant days when I never slept because of the stupid crib alarm that was supposed to save him from SIDS but actually only went off when he was basking in perfect slumber and, in fact, STILL BREATHING JUST FINE. No, no. Not those reasons.
I think the actual reason that I can't believe how far we've come is because I find myself still doing things that make me think to myself, "Why in the hell am I still doing this?" That said, this post really serves as an ode, if you will, to all of the helicopter, overprotective, and just plain old verge of psychotic activities that maybe... no, most definitely... made sense at one time in my child's development, but may or may not make any damn sense to continue doing any longer. How did I get here, you may be wondering? What broke the straw? Um, BECAUSE PEOPLE BE LOOKING AT ME LIKE I'M STRAIGHT CRAZY. And as a generally self-aware person, that gives me pause. That's why.
So yeah, awhile back I started making a list of these WTF activities and moments on my phone. Technology really is a gift. So, let's run it through. But please know... Just because I list all of these things that I should probably stop doing in my own blog post doesn't mean for one second that I'm going to stop doing them. I have kept this boy alive all this time by being my crazy, overly cautious self. Best I can do is promise to think about it. Make some concessions. Calm down a little. She says as her neck twitches ever so slightly...
Cutting up his food into miniscule pieces
So, my personal research has concluded that most parents stop doing this once their child stops sitting in a high chair. Now, I'm not saying that you normal people out there are giving your children crisply sharpened steak knives and a NY strip at age three and saying "Go for it" but you know what I mean. My level of crazy: If dinner is spaghetti and meatballs, I still cut back and forth through his spaghetti so that it measures approximately one-inch pieces. Next level: We were at a friend's house last weekend and the kids had those little peelable oranges. In addition to telling him to bite the wedges in half to eat them and the firm warning "Don't eat them whole!", I kept going upstairs where the kids were playing to make sure he hadn't choked on an orange wedge. Like probably 5 or 6 times. Oh yeah, I'm certifiable. Half of my mind is like - Reg, you're totally good. Your kid will NEVER choke on an orange and that's good parenting. The other half is looking around at the other parents who are clearly sane and it says to me, Reg, you are a f%@$ing lunatic. He's fine. Stop buggin'. That first, psychotically helicopter side always wins, though! What's funny is that there was a point where I never questioned my own logic. Until that day when I spent ten hangry, pre-dinner minutes painstakingly cutting up food into tiny pieces and then watched Dallas take the equivalent of four bites at once on his fork and be fine. He didn't choke. Yeah, that made me feel kind of stupid.
Pre-washing new clothes
Remember the days of Dreft? And then when you finally wised up and stopped buying separate detergent for baby clothes, so Tide Free or whatever you could afford between $1000/month childcare, a mortgage, car payments, gas, the light bill and food? And when I would go to Target or Old Navy and come back with all of those super cute outfits, I would take them off the hangers, take off all of the tags and pop them right into the hamper to be washed. You know, so all that "new clothes" essence didn't irritate his delicate and precious young, babyfied skin. YEAH, SO I JUST STOPPED DOING THIS LAST WEEK. I KNOW! I am like the sucker of all moms. What broke me? A school play. Dallas was cast as a tree or a goat, can't remember, in Three Billy Goats Gruff and he needed to wear a certain color shirt or shorts, can't remember that either, that he didn't have. It's all very foggy... Kohl's had a sale. End of the day, we threw the stuff on him, he acted out his part and guess what??? He did NOT break out in a deadly "new clothes rash". He really just went on living his life. Who knew??? Oh, you guys did. Well, thanks for telling me. See what I did there?
OK, hold your disgust. I will continue to keep Dallas on the right side of personal hygiene. What I'm referring to here is baths vs. showers. Bit of a story here. Back in late May we took a little mini family vacation to Myrtle Beach. It was awesome! The real crowning jewel, though, was getting Dallas out of his comfort zone and watching him willingly adjust to new things that at home, he had always rejected outright. Our hotel room was sans bathtub, but had a really cool walk-in shower. So, of course I panicked. My mind said, "Dallas is never going to take a shower. This is never going to work. He's going to fight this and freak out and this is going to suck." You know, that super positive, normal reaction that any well-adjusted parent would have. Thankfully, enter Daddy, stage left. Ever the salesman, Jason effortlessly sells D on the cool merits of shower life. Within literally two minutes of getting in, Dallas says "I looooove showers. I'm going to take showers all the time." We got back home and he couldn't wait to start taking showers! And guess what? Showers are WAY shorter! And there's not eighty-seven gallons of water all over the bathroom floor and all over me! Or a gaggle of toys to clean up! Of course, there's the slight issue of getting him to take a shower in his own bathroom rather than ours, but hey, nothing is perfect.
Using regular plates and getting his own water
Don't act like you didn't go to Target or IKEA and buy those plastic, BPA-free toddler plates, with or without the dividers, like as soon as your boo boo started eating solid foods. And remember how you couldn't wait to cut their food up in little bite size pieces and watch them try different things on those little blue, green, yellow, orange, hot pink and purple plates and bowls? Well, if this feels like a stretch to remember... If you're thinking back really hard to those days right now and your child is 6 and under, let me remind you BECAUSE UP UNTIL LAST MONTH DALLAS WAS STILL EATING OFF OF THOSE. At some point like last month it was dinner time and all those plates must have been dirty, so Jason thought "outside of the box" and decided to feed Dallas dinner on a regular a$$ plate like we adults eat on. Some genius $hit, apparently. So now, he eats on the same size plates as other regular-size humans. I should have known this grown-up plate thing was possible when one day he asked me for a cup, went to the refrigerator and got himself a cup of water. I almost cried nostalgic tears of joy. Obama was right... everyday these kids are taking one more step away from us. I'm not crying, that's you.
This paradox of simultaneously teaching our children to grow up and be self-sufficient while wearing our rose-colored glasses of their limitations is a hell of a drug. I swear that I want Dallas to be fearless and take risks, yet I toss and turn at night thinking of all of the things that frighten me as his mother. I literally couldn't sleep one night last week because he was going on a field trip to the splash park and I was imagining kids holding him under the water and him not being able to break free. DERANGED, I know. You want next level? I was thinking of driving to the splash park in my car and, you know, just keeping watch like a parking lot creeper to make sure that didn't happen...or that if it did, I would be there to rescue my baby bean. DERANGED SQUARED. But hey, the bus broke down and they didn't get to go. The role of "mom truly heartbroken that her son didn't get to attend the splash park fieldtrip" was played by Regan Love-Campbell that day. My performance was stellar.
Am I as alone as I think I am in this? What things are you still doing that reading this has brought to light? I'm sure I have more examples of pure mom insanity, but I needed to keep at least a small shred of my dignity in tact. Not sure I succeeded.
Stay sane and test those limits!