My Parenting Days Are Almost Over. . . But Not Quite by Lick the Fridge

Topic: What the %^&* Is Going On Here?

I remember the day well. March of 2010. My wife and I were pushing our one-year-old twins in their single strollers, so as to not have to maneuver the behemoth double stroller through the narrow aisles of the pharmacy. The line was about four deep. The man in front of us smiled politely. This will go quick. It will not be a problem.

Unless, that is, both of our kids threw simultaneous seismic tantrums. Which they did.

My wife stayed in line, and as I tried to steer a stroller in each hand, the polite man in front of us said over the cacophony of pterodactyl screams, “It gets easier. My twins are almost four. I remember these days. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. But it gets easier when they’re two and a half. When they’re two and a half they play with each other more and you have to do less supervision because they’re their own entertainment. If you can get there intact, it’s worth it. Good luck!”

And as I broke each of my wrists trying to steer the two strollers through the narrow aisles and out of the pharmacy, I did some quick math. Two and a half. July 26, 2011. On July 26, 2011 my kids will be two and a half. On July 26, 2011 it will get easier. The man said so. He knows. He’s been there before. He’s intact. He was polite. He’s my new idol. On July 26, 2011 I will no longer need to parent.

As my kids screamed and kicked and tried to throw themselves head first onto the sidewalk, and as passersby looked at me with disdain, I dreamed of late nights drinking beers with the boys, playing music until dawn, international travel, sleeping whenever I wanted, reading a book with more than fifty words in it.

July 26, 2011. I can do it. I know I can. It’s so close. Yet so far away.

————

A few weeks ago—on April 30, 2011 to be exact—I thought my parenting days were coming to an end almost a full three months before the man’s predicted end date. As I sit on the deck on a beautiful sunny afternoon my two and a fourth year old twins play peacefully with one another inside their new playhouse.

I hear the soft murmurs of toddler chattering, the shuffling of croc-ed feet on the concrete, and the wonderful sound of plastic dishes and fake food being tussled around in the bin. There are no shouts, there are no cries, there are no raised voices or whines. It’s like I don’t even have children. We are in two separate worlds. They are content and so am I.

I start to think that perhaps that guy was right, and that perhaps the easier times are coming earlier than expected to my house. I think that it must be because of my superior parenting that I did not have to wait until July 26, 2011 to liberate my children into the world on their own. I have prepared them to interact with one another with civility and kindness, which has enabled them to show inordinate levels of sophistication and maturity with one another.

I am proud, I am relieved, and I think for a moment that I might release some tears of joy and let them trickle down my face dramatically.

And then from inside the playhouse, I hear the shrill sound of one of my children. “I. NEED. ONE. BEAN!” Even though the tranquility has been shattered, I laugh at the randomness of this statement. I need one bean? What the hell does that mean?

Whereas a mere few moments ago they were better friends the NRA and the Republican party, my kids are now two warring tribes in sub-Saharan Africa ready to fight to the death.  The cries, the screams, the “mine”s, the jumping up and down hysterically. It’s all returned quicker than I can say, “that guy with the twins is full of shit!”

And what is causing all this dissonance? Why, a fake plastic green bean of course. What else? There are three beans, and my daughter wants them all. She refuses to share one of them with her brother.

He screams, “I. Need. One. Bean!” with such ferocity his larynx falls out. His sister looks at the larynx for a moment, decides not to pick it up, and instead turns away and laughs while hoarding the three beans in her pocket. Yes, pure civility and kindness. All taught by me.

“I. NEED. ONE. BEAN!” is repeated over and over by both children now, and I have become paralyzed by sadness. I don’t intervene. I am too depressed to take action. My previous optimism was silly and useless. How could I have been so easily duped?

I look at my watch. April 30, 2011. July 26th is less than three months away. I’ve already booked my plain tickets. Where? Does it really matter?

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Comments
4 Responses to “My Parenting Days Are Almost Over. . . But Not Quite by Lick the Fridge”
  1. amyweezie says:

    This is fabulous! Now with a 12 year old and a 9 1/2 year old, I keep thinking, “when my daughter turns 16 it will be so much easier.” Keep hope alive.

    • Jared Karol says:

      Thanks, Amy. Yes, hope is alive. I know, there’s always going to be another “something” for us to look forward to when it will be easier. . . how foolish we are. . . 🙂

  2. Tasha C. says:

    This is seriously funny. We have the same beans at our house : )

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