It’s Saturday morning, breakfast. Boy announces that he wants water, not milk, with his natto-and-eggs scramble. A minute ago — before Papa had poured the milk into one of Boy’s beloved train-themed cups — he made the exact opposite request. It’s the fifth water-milk reversal in succession, and frankly, it’s starting to grate.
“That’s bananas,” sighs Papa, and he tells Boy to drink what’s in front of him. A slow, steady, high-pitched whine ensues, getting louder by the second.
Meanwhile, Girl just heard her favorite food mentioned by name. And she wants some. Right now. She bounces on her bottom in the highchair — the thump, thump, thump punctuating each angry syllable: “Na-na! Na-na! Na-na!”
An all-purpose parental “no” — delivered textbook calmly-but-firmly to both Boy and Girl — results in an apocalyptic explosion that can surely be heard throughout our normally serene neighborhood, which is mostly populated by elderly Japanese. I imagine a collective setting-down of rice bowls and tea cups, heads swiveling toward the verbal violence emanating from our thin-walled house. Eyebrows raise ever so slightly, as cell phones are fished out of purses and jinbei pockets. Just in case.
I know what the neighbors are thinking. “What is wrong with those crazy Americans?” They must be thinking this. After all, no other children in the whole wide world behave as ours do. We are the worst parents ever.
Wait. Did I mention that we’ve all been up since 5-something a.m. because both Boy and Girl spontaneously awoke at the first light of dawn? And refused to fall back into blissful slumber? Did I really forget to mention that? Consider this fact mentioned.
And while we’re talking sleep, I should also say that very little of this was had for any of us last night. Why? Because Boy’s pillow was “too hot.” Yes, that’s right. I guess that’s a thing now with the 4-and-under set. Hot pillows. Somebody really should do something about that.
One more thing: Our 2-year-old girl managed to urinate her full body weight while she was sleeping. Her diaper was somehow dry. But the futon will never be the same. It’s a wonder that she doesn’t look like a little shriveled-up pink balloon.
Forget Eat, Pray, Love — I want Eat, Pee, Sleep. Not for us, because I’m tired of judgy parenting guides: “Do this — it works! Really! If it doesn’t, try harder — because YOU ARE CLEARLY DOING SOMETHING WRONG.” Screw that. I want something for my kids to download, Matrix-style, into their sweet little brains. They will step away from the training, do a cool move with their chopsticks, and proclaim, “Now I can eat without getting sticky rice in my hair.” Or, “I will not turn around to ask you a question while I’m peeing.” Or, “Gosh, I could really go for a nap.”
That’s available, right? Surely there’s an app for that.
Oh, I’m dying laughing here.
But it’s because I have been there, and indeed still am there. And I hate judgy parenting manuals. (My favorite parenting manual, hands down, is The Mother’s Almanac, not least because of its “A few mistakes aren’t a big deal” attitude.)
But at the moment, reading this post, I’m just really glad that the whole peeing-standing-up thing hasn’t caught on with our boy yet.
99% of the time, the whole peeing-standing-up thing is pretty great, and efficient, and impressive: Boy pees as if he’s dousing all the fires of Hell. But that 1%–you need a mop and a bucket of equanimity. 🙂
Christina–Oh boy. Brace yourself for the bittersweet comedy to come! 🙂
Tracy and Koun,
Very funny post to which any parent can relate.
Though I read this bog (and Nyoho Zen) regularly, I’m not typically one to comment. So why now? Because I wanted to say how much I liked the name “One Continuous Mistake.”
I have a 12-year-old boy and I screw up every day with him. The only skill I have as a parent is to be aware and learn from my mistakes. The good news is, that works.
Thanks for two excellent blogs.
Thanks so much for your comment, Brian. (Sorry for the belated reply!) I’m with you: “The only skill I have as a parent is to be aware and learn from my mistakes.” I forget this sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.