It happened. I swore that I would be one of those perfect parents who encourages his children to create, explore, and discover. I swore that I wouldn't let them eat sugar or watch TV. I swore that I would always stay calm and never use that awful word "no." And yet I have done all of these things a couple of time. I am no longer the perfect parent. I am -- a typical parent. (Hanging head in defeat.)
I remember a little while ago I made Jeff cry when I let out such an exasperated grunt as I wrestled with him to get on a diaper. I started using the word "no" more often over the last few weeks as Aaron and Jeff have decided that my glasses are much more interesting than the 4,821 books and toys we have for them that are strewn all over the apartment. But Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, is a day that will live in infamy. It was the first time I shouted the word "No!" out of frustration.
Jeff has discovered our kitchen drawers and cabinets and thinks they are the most wonderful toy in the world. We have the child safety locks on some of them. The drawer with the dish towels opens. We let him explore opening and closing that drawer and throwing all of our towels onto the floor. He loves it. I love that it passes five minutes. Life is good.
Well, he's taller now. Derek and I know that the boys have grown when they can reach new things. He had been able to open the third drawer from the bottom for a while but now he was able to reach in and pick out what is inside like a cheese spreader, a mini hand grater (not very sharp at all), a serving spoon, etc. Nothing incredibly dangerous, but not stuff for babies and not what I want thrown on my floors. I decided that it was easier to remove the objects and let him play with the drawer than to fight him on opening the drawer. So my small counter space became covered with small kitchen utensils.
Then he went for the cabinets under the sink. You know, the place with all of the toxic cleaning products -- I mean totally organic and natural cleaning products that a perfect parent like me would have. ;-) One of the safety locks isn't working so he was able to get the left cabinet open. I closed it and redirected him. He found the cabinet again. I closed it and redirected him again. We played this "game" for a few minutes until I got out the duct tape. I'll tell you that I didn't know a ten and a half month old infant could be such a challenge to duct tape. Jeff was determinted to open that cabinet. He grunted. He pulled. He groaned. He shook the door. I tried to pick him up and redirect him to a toy but his little hand gripped that cabinet knob so tightly. It was like Jack from Titanic holding on for dear life when the boat cracked in half.
I put him down and ran to Aaron who needed my attention for some reason and heard that cabinet door shaking as Jeff continued to try to rip it open like the Hulk.
"NO!" I yelled as I got overwhelmed with a crying Aaron and tried to break Jeff of his obsession with toxic -- I mean organic cleaning supplies.
And that was the moment I realized I may not be the perfect parent I had hoped. Don't get me wrong, I'm still 99.9% amazing; I'm just a little bit human, too. My mind is now fast forwarding to the fights over eating vegetables, not wanting to get out of the pool, doing their homework before watching TV, etc. I'm going to try to make "no" not a common word in the house, but the reality is that it will slip out and that's OK. We all heard it when we were kids. We all still love our parents and grew up to be happy, healthy adults. And now, as parents ourselves, we realize what a hard job our parents had and what a wonderful job they did.