A blog about writing . . . and a lot of other things

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Lesson in Humility

Isaac watching the aliens land . . . or something.
Anyone who has children knows that they are one big, long lesson in humility.  No matter how much we know about children in general - from training or practice - our knowledge is useless with our own.

The main reason for this is because kids are not like a souffle or even like a puppy.  They are all completely different.  No matter how skilled you are at dealing with one child, you are guaranteed to be thoroughly inept at dealing with the next one.

My son is a blond, blue-eyed, corn-fed Nebraska boy who slept through the night at two weeks of age (because he had a stomach the size of a two-year-old).  As a baby, he was cheerful and fun and a little kooky.  He loved to make noise and bang his head against things.

It's not a coincidence that Jacob looks exhausted.
So my husband and I thought, this is easy!  Let's have another!  I still looked six months pregnant, anyway.  Why not go ahead and get the second child over with?

What we didn't realize was that Isaac had been born to give us a false sense of security.  As soon as my morning sickness returned, my son became a different boy.  He learned to throw tantrums, and that strong, solid boy had strong, solid lungs.  He screamed like he was being disemboweled, and I was frankly too tired to care.  My second pregnancy had made me the size of a small RV.

Then my daughter finally arrived.  She was beautiful, with luminous dark eyes and shiny, dark curls.  The first night I was so amazed at her perfection that I didn't sleep at all.

I still wish I'd slept that night.

Isn't she gorgeous?  So cute, and yet so evil.
Because I certainly didn't sleep after that.  She screamed nearly non-stop for the next twelve months.  She refused to take a bottle, so I couldn't be separated from her for more than an hour or so.  It didn't matter.  No one wanted to babysit her because she'd scream the entire time.   

She refused to eat any food until one day we were having dinner at a nice restaurant, at which point she became famished.  She refused to take a single step (or let her feet touch the ground) until she was about seventeen months old, and then we found that she was a wanderer that required constant supervision or she'd just leave the premises.

Nothing that had worked with her brother worked with her.  Telling her no made her laugh.  There was no use in pushing her or punishing her.  To this day she has the strongest personality of anyone I have ever met.

My kids are nine and ten now, and they're great.  I love my kids.  Other people even love my kids (Mindy stopped screaming).  They get good grades and are thoughtful and diligent.  Okay, so Mindy gets sent to the principal's office a lot, but she reminds me that it's definitely less often than it used to be.

However, this is just the calm before the storm.  How do I know that?  Because I used to teach high school and I have worked with teenagers for years.  I feel pretty confident in my ability to relate to young people.

And if there's one thing I've learned from parenting, it's that pride comes before a fall.

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