“All the World’s a Stage” (and my kids will probably try to set it on fire)
I refer sometimes to my older son as The Destroyer of Worlds. Before having children, I had no idea how quickly a home could start to resemble something out of a documentary about Sarajevo.
The baby is now joining in. His big brother is teaching him about how fun it is to throw all of the couch cushions on the floor and climb Mount Ultrasuede. There are a few things I’d hoped my elder son would teach his sibling. How to turn the living room into the set of Saving Private Ryan was not on that list.
Years ago, I listened to my husband recap stories about how, when he was a boy, his friend and he would put bottle rockets into PVC pipe, hoist the pipe onto their shoulders and launch explosives out one end. At each other.
I used to think it was all very funny.
I am not laughing anymore.
And, recently, my mother asked me what my plans were for the kids for the summer. Would we be sending the preschooler to theater camp? Would the boys try gymnastics classes? Might the baby like “Mommy and Me Yoga”? Anyone up for summer classes at the local community center?
No. No, indeed, I’d not be releasing my two tornadoes upon unsuspecting Art Camp counselors or Nature Walk leaders.
We have the most amazing nanny. Truly, we adore her. She’s been a fabulous addition to our family. But, even she looked like my children (who she loves) were going to send her to the nearest clock tower where she’d happily put herself out of the misery caused by my little monsters by hurling herself to her own welcome demise on the pavement below the other day. I have no illusions about my kids being easily handled by untrained 18-year olds working at YMCA swim camp for summer break.
My boys are beautiful, loving, sweet, fiercely independent, smart, creative and athletic. I didn’t know it was possible to love anyone or anything this much.
All of those amazing qualities have their dark sides, though.
Beautiful children sometimes know that their cuteness gets them stuff. Loving children can learn that withholding their love can be a great manipulation tool. Sweet children don’t always understand why Mommy isn’t sweet to them all the time; they don’t always understand why Mommy has rules such as “Don’t run in the street even though it might seem so fun” that make her seem so mean. Fiercely independent children may be born leaders who will not be victims of peer pressure, but they also don’t really listen to their parents, either. Smart kids can learn more than how to read at age 3: they can learn how to push your buttons, too. Creative kids can believe that your walls are the perfect canvas for their work. Athletic kids will be fit, active and happy…and hard to catch.
So, indeed, raising my little men is an enormous job. I have tons of help and I have no idea how so many women do it (and do it so well) alone. But, for now, I will keep the Gymboree teachers, private piano lesson instructors and t-ball camp counselors out of my karass. They ain’t ready for what my boys bring to the table.
Maybe next year…