Lately I’ve been taking a little journey back to the period called “inexperienced motherhood.” It usually happens in Trader Joe’s or somewhere else in public, where I’ll look down next to my cart and see that someone has taken a massive bite out of a raw zucchini and then stashed it on the lower rack.
I make sure not to look down for too long though, because if I don’t keep my eyes on the whirring blonde ball of energy that is our resident three year old, he will be behind the counter and elbows-deep in the free sucker bucket, much to the consternation of whichever Trader Joe’s team member is lucky enough to be our cashier that day.
“Hey buddy,” the Hawaiian shirt clad stranger will begin, “you can’t be back here!” or else it’ll be the arched brow and the “Hey, mom, can you get him back on your side?” with a knowing look that plainly says “you’ll get the hang of this sooner or later, lady.”
Little do they know, these innocent bystanders who stand witness to our public displays of destruction, that Luke is not my first rodeo, or even my second, but my fourth.
I’ve had the opportunity to confess that to a few well-meaning good samaritans who stop to help me disentangle him from the climbing net at the park where he is hanging upside down, dangling from one leg, which he somehow managed to thread through 4 different squares of cargo netting.
Or at a splash park last summer when I would march him back naked (again) and unashamed from the edge of the pop jet fountain, white buns blazing under the hot Colorado sun for all the general public to observe. “Sun’s out, buns out!” the neighbor kids shouted gleefully all summer, watching Luke streak across the yard having freed himself once again from the shackles of swim trunks or his pull up.
I thought it would abate with potty training, but alas, he is now more naked and I am wiping more things off of more surfaces than I was before. At least diapers were a contained, albeit expensive, environment.
When Luke’s true nature first began to show itself around his second birthday, we told ourselves he was bidding for attention. Acting up because a new baby was coming. Having a hard time adjusting to all the big kids being in school some days.
Nope. Turns out this just is Luke. Or else he is having the longest and most persistent case of the terrible twos in recorded history.
He’s not terrible, though. He’s actually really sweet and funny and really, really smart. He tells strangers he is 7, that he is the oldest in his family, that he is going to learn how to drive soon. He tells anyone who will listen to him that he “used to live in Italy” (no, he did not) and that when he grows up he is going to be a daddy and a garbage truck driver. (lucky gal the one who scoops him up.)
He is always dirty, usually naked, and has single-handedly inflated our grocery bill by at least $150 a month. A typical breakfast might be 2 eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, and maybe a strip or four of bacon if there is any lying around. He eats like Gaston, he has the manners of Gaston, but he is much kinder than Gaston.
“Mommy I just love you! Come here, I’m going to kiss your mouth. Mommy when I grow up I’m going to live with you and come home every night for dinner (nope). You’re a good mommy, you do a good mommy job.”
It’s hard to stay mad at a guy like that, even when he manages to extract himself from his carseat and OPEN THE VAN DOOR WHILE WE’RE DRIVING THROUGH TRAFFIC.
Yesterday someone posted a viral video from like, home security cam footage and it showed a toddler hanging on and being lifted by the opening garage door while mom’s back was turned and I was like, “yep. That is for sure going to happen to me.”
When I meet boy moms with grown or older sons, I beg them for reassurance that he is going to make it safely to adulthood. Last week we thought an upstairs toilet needed a professional snake job, but then lo and behold, daddy’s amateur snake job turned up AN ENTIRE GREEN APPLE and we all looked in fascination and horror at the child who assured us “Mommy told me it was okay to flush apples down the toilet.”
Next fall Luke will start preschool in our sweet little Montessori atrium. And as much stock as I put in the great Maria Montessori’s methods, I do wonder if Luke might accidentally eat the class pet, punch a hole in the ceiling tiles with the red rods, or squirt his classmates in the face with the spray bottles they use to gently mist their succulent collection during the zenlike period known as “plant work.”
Also, he knows how to use matches.
I feel like we’re playing some strange new game in the raising of this child – one that doesn’t include a rule book – so we’re making them up as we go along, to varying degrees of success.
He wakes us up some mornings by dropping a shoulder into our slightly sticky bedroom door and flipping on the overhead light while bellowing out IT’S MORNING TIME I’M HUNGRY before turning abruptly and thundering down the stairs towards the kitchen. Thanks to DST reveille has been nudged forward to 5:50 am but who’s counting?
Other mornings he will creep around the side of the bed to find daddy and wiggle his still-saturated pullup-clad butt in between our sheet and and comforter, and let me tell you, the person who brings to market an aroma-based alarm clock is going to make some real money.
One memorable morning around 3 am earlier this Fall, I awoke in the midst of what I assumed was a home invasion when he’d pulled a stepping stool up to the bed and stood, 2 centimeters from my head, yelling WAKE UP MAN. (?????) I awakened. And spent the following hour trying to get my cortisol levels back down to sleep-able range.
We love our crazy Duke, don’t get me wrong. He is hilarious, loving, super personable and very, very good at getting his way with his 3 older siblings and 3 older cousins.
I recount some of his antics here for posterity’s sake, and also to demonstrate that no matter how many kids you’ve had, you might not be fully prepared for the immensity that is one of their personalities in particular. (Or maybe more than one! I’m looking at you Blythe). You never know what – or who – you’re gonna get. Which is part of the fun.
(And by fun I mean the kind of fun that you feel on a roller coaster ride, just to be clear.)
I’m curious – do you have a verb in your family? Is there one – or more – in every family?