You never, ever sleep alone, or a full night. How would you know it was 3am if somebody hadn’t wet the bed? How would you know it was 4:30 unless somebody had snuggled in next to you and miraculously managed to occupy 85% of the bed with a body 25% the size of yours?
Every meal is worse than water torture. Forget getting them to eat the damn food, how about deciding what to make for them– when making plain pasta is UNACCEPTABLE and making sauced pasta is UNTHINKABLE and presenting them with either dish a personal insult, what is it that they want us to do? How about bribing/threatening/manipulating/whatevering them into letting you prepare what they’ve demanded in peace, if they ever do decide on a single demand?
Your war cry is “Just a minute!” They want fifteen totally contradictory things, surrender is not an option, and you’re just trying to get through the hour without having your head explode when they suddenly barrel in out of nowhere, shrieking and crying at you in the resonant frequency of your skeleton, and you know full well that they will show you no mercy if you ask them to slow down or start over.
Reason is not an option. No, they don’t understand that if they would just hold still you would be done by now. They don’t seem to hear you when you say that violence begets violence and remind them to use their words, and then they somehow conjure up surprise when they are in pain.
And yet, you are expected to know the explanation for everything. “What does ‘solitary’ mean?” “Why do birds have feathers?” “What do tarantulas eat?” “Why are oil molecules slippery?” “Why do they call it ‘French’?” “What kind of spider is that?” “What is that dog’s name?” “Why are rocks hard?”
You have memorized what tracks of what CDs are “robot songs” or “hey! songs” or “na-na-na songs.” You are secretly pleased that they like “Hey Jude” and “What I Like About You”, but you’re kind of embarrassed that they know so many words to “Domo Arigato Mister Roboto,” and you really hope they never sing “Centerfold” at Grandma’s house.
Movie nights are an unparalleled source of déjà vu. Yes, they want to watch it again. Even though they just watched it yesterday. Even though they can recite every line. Even though the songs have been stuck in your head for three months.
You don’t bother to guess what artwork is supposed to be. To you, it’s clearly a scribble surrounded by irregular boxes, but this is a heretical thing to suggest to the beaming illustrator of, apparently, a Star Destroyer attacking a baby echidna in a robot suit with the laser guns going pew pew pew and a spider web catching the laser blasts so they can be recycled at the depot and made into
force fields red force fields.
All of your household rules can be expressed in pithy soundbites, the better for yelling across the playground like an idiot. “Be gentle and kind!” “It’s his body, so he gets to decide!” “Everyone has their own imagination!” “If you don’t have consent, it’s not a game!” “Use your words, and then get help!”
Sometimes, when you give advice, they listen. Maude and all the Golden Girls be praised, y’all, it’s a Bastille Day Miracle!
Getting into the car seems to take every muscle in your back and most of an hour. Address nudity, send to the toilet, help with shoes, maintain pace and stay on target, unlock door, demonstrate how to open door, wait, lift child, bend over, buckle, buckle, buckle, check shoes, check provisions and possessions, distribute car toys, defuse fighting over car toys, get in car, buckle, start engine, “rocket ship blasting off” countdown, drive away.
You no longer understand comedy.
They say: “Knock knock.”
You say: “Who’s there?”
They say: “Chicken walking across the road.”
You say: “Chicken walking across the road who?”
No answer, just hysterical, rolling-around-on-floor laughing.
What. Just. Happened.
History doesn’t seem to be the way you remember it. “When I was a baby, I just went into the ocean with my robot swimsuit submarine and saw a shark and I said ‘good mornden, shark, I want to be your friend’ and the shark said ‘no I will eat you’ and then I was eated up and I died.” — Ithilien, apparently still alive and uneaten
Context is a luxury. “Remember when we saw a movie at the drive-in lasted night, with the many women and the one woman growing a baby and one woman with black eyes and the white men driving-racing with a truck with monster-truck wheels and all fire and a sand cave full of ice and sand and there was an explosion?” –Númenor, describing Mad Max: Fury Road, which we saw six weeks prior
It’s a sacred and awe-inspiring occupation. Every day is a fresh adventure, and they learn and change so fast you can barely keep up, but they still need their scrapes and bruises kissed and want to snuggle when they are tired. They have sweet, baby-round cheeks, and long, strong limbs that carry them far and fast. They worry about impossible things (like teddy bears coming to life and starving because they have only stuffing and no digestive organs) and inevitable things (like their own death). They have tiny, mad, whirring, working minds, and the verbal skills to let you peek under the hood. They love to give presents and have parties and prepare for holidays months in advance. They tell you they love you, and they mean it.