Yesterday afternoon I was in the kitchen patiently stirring a bubbling cauldron of what would become part of Sunday dinner when Noah’s sense of urgency suddenly appeared beside me. I think children wait until you’re fully committed to the “stir constantly” part of the recipe before they NEED you.
Stir. Stir. Stir.MOM!!!
Stir. Stir.What? DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE BIG MAGNIFYING GLASS IS???
Stir. Stir. Stir.Uh, maybe upstairs in the play room?
Our conversation caught the attention of one little brother who immediately jumped from the nearby couch and ran out of the house into the garage, only to appear seconds later with…. the big magnifying glass. He handed it to Noah.Here you go Noah! Thanks Chase!
Without another word, under a code of silence exhibited by men of all ages, Noah exited the house with Chase in tow. I continued to stir my bubbling cheese, smiling and pondering the various creatures my young sons were going to examine on this sunny afternoon and wondering when one of them would come back inside, screaming about some major infraction the other had committed. I stirred a little faster.
It didn’t take long. Chase was the first through the door.MOM!!!
Stir. Stir.What? WE NEED SOME PAPER!!!
It was then that I realized my boys weren’t examining bugs or leaves or blades of grass under the magnifying glass. They were starting fires.
Stir. Stir.Chasey, I don’t like the idea of you and Noah playing “pyros” outside while I’m in here attached to cheese sauce. In fact, I’m not sure I like the idea at all so….. MOM! We are getting ALONG!!!
I stopped stirring and stared at my son, did some quick mental math about the odds of disaster, and turned back to my cheese.Just do me a favor and wear a jacket. Its chilly.
Its easy for grown-ups who don’t have children to criticize the sometimes questionable decisions of those of us who do. I used to be one of them, saying to myself that when I had kids I would never let them get away with XYZ or ABC. But the cold hard truth about parenting is that none of us are operating from the position of strength we once enjoyed before our children systematically chipped away at our most fortified towers of reason. We are merely sandcastles, built too close to the tides of life’s daily challenges. Depending on which direction the tide is flowing, we use whatever faculties we can to remain standing, even if it involves your children burning down the neighborhood.
Some days all we really want to do is have our boys get along for 15 minutes. Some days we just want to finish stirring the cheese.
Stir. Stir. Stir.