I couldn’t agree more with those lyrics from the late Whitney Houston. Creating a person is one of the greatest things of all. As with anything though, eventually the new wears off. Once all of the awe and splendor of creating human life finally begins to fade into the background you realize that there is a whole lot more to this thing than just keeping them alive long enough for them to be able to actually sleep with a pillow or blanket without risk of SIDS. The fun part begins when they begin to walk and talk and are basically your very own DNA Play-Doh that you get to shape however you like.
At 20 months old, our youngest daughter is a lot like one of those smart phone apps you say something to and it repeats you in a cute funny voice. She is learning new words and phrases everyday and it is obvious that no member of our family is passing up the chance to leave a few thumbprints in her molding process. Last week while driving a squeaky little voice from the back seat piped up and said “WATCH IT DADDY!” followed by an eruption of giggles from her big sister. Our oldest has come to the conclusion that teaching her little sister new phrases is the funniest thing ever, especially when they are phrases that she doesn’t have the guts to say out loud herself. Her mom teaches her to say sweet things like “love the baby” and “I am one years old.” It may not have been until last night though, as she wandered through the house yelling “BACON IS AWESOME” that I realized how sweet this new little game could be.
Yesterday I watched her drag the stool from the bathroom into her room and proceed to climb up onto her changing table and then climb back down. This newly discovered talent also explains the bowl of apples in the kitchen full of mysterious little bite marks. When you reach that point of realizing you did your job keeping them alive this long and now it is time to really turn them into someone cool, it is totally sweet.
Sometimes it is like watching Gizmo turn into a Gremlin. From adorably cute to little monster in 3.6 seconds. Most of the time we realize it is part of the gig and take it all in stride. Other times the cries of our children have the ability to reduce us to begging pleading shadows of our former self. Often, our transformation can be just as rapid as theirs.
Sunday morning I found myself trying to rationalize with my one year old, “Yes sweetie, your daddy is very handy but even he cannot fix a broken banana or put it back into the peal so please for the love of everything holy just stop crying.” Yeah, it was like that. There are times though, when the humane and sensitive options of soothing are exhausted, that parents are forced to go to the silver bullet in the battle against their little weretoddlers. That’s right. Fruit snacks.
They may be disgusting little gummy sugar wads but there is no doubt that they have been blessed by some great shaman or created by a wizard. When readying ourselves for a day out in public with our little ones, I am often reminded of that scene in Rambo when he straps weapons onto his arms and legs and then rises tying the red band around his head. Usually, I leave with pockets full of goldfish and Cheerios and emergency fruit snacks strapped to my ankle (stuffed in my sock). I am locked and loaded and ready
for battle the grocery store. It may sound like taking the easy way out but I have found that sometimes, a stern tone or empty threat simply do not have enough fire power and the only way to shut their mouths is to give them something to chew. Every now and then, I feel like just tearing the bag open with my teeth and lobbing them in her general direction like a little grenade of shut up. The bonus with that tactic is that it takes extra time for her to wander around finding all of the gelatinous nubs of artificial flavor and strengthens her immune system since she will be eating from the floor. Kids are one of the best things to ever happen to me but fruit snacks as a silencer is totally weak.