Parenthood offers a scope of the world rarely glimpsed by those without children. Certain day to day rituals become major productions testing the boundaries of nurture verses nature. One does not even have to leave their own home to experience the bliss of raising children.
Let us start with the bathroom. The calming warm showers that prepare us for the day ahead suddenly become ice cold waterfalls. Many a parent has felt the last warm drop of water fade as they peer out of the curtain with a head full of conditioner, one eye shut tight from its stinging blindness as a child presents their case. Problem is their speech is inaudible due to the water hissing upon the clammy shower curtain. A rushed exchange takes place and the child of course runs away leaving the door wide open and all the cold air in the house comes rushing in.
Keeping with the bathroom theme, there are few acts that leaves us as vulnerable as using the bathroom. Sit down with a bare bottom and suddenly your bathroom becomes a scene from “Night Of The Living Dead” as children pound zombie like on the bathroom door. In a frail attempt to reassert your authority you bark orders from your porcelain throne but it is in vain. No one listens to a king with their pants around their ankles. Worse yet is when you realize the roll of toilet paper is soaking wet in the bathtub from some failed experiment and you are forced to summon your child with increased volume and urgency as your cries are met with deafening silence, hoping against all hope that they will awaken from the hypnotic glare of the television on the other side of the house and rescue you with a fresh roll. Time is of the essence in these situations.
Moving along to the kitchen where your shoe will randomly stick to the linoleum due to hours old orange juice on the floor. Scissors will be covered in honey, cakes will be stripped of their icing like iron ore from the earth and delicately put back as though nothing occurred, cereal boxes will be put back in place with a single cheerio in the bottom of the box and plastic eggs from your childrens kitchen set will replace fresh eggs in the fridge (luckily fresh eggs were accidentally found in parents sneakers under the bed). Cookies miraculously disappear from cupboards at alarming rates while dinner plates of healthy food are found in the garbage.
This of course leads into breakfast, lunch or dinner taking place in the dining room, a room where children hang from their chairs like performers from Circus du Soleil. Entire cups of juice are guzzled before the table is set or better yet simply spilled across its entirety. Bargains are struck for dessert or desertion whichever comes first and inappropriate jokes rule the meal.
How about the living room you say? The room where children leap from couch to chair in a single bound, where hockey pucks sail dangerously close to windows and the deep creases of furniture hide the wrappers from Halloween candy and smuggled goodies in the wee hours of the morning. The room where the Lawrence Welk show eerily plays in the background while children wrestle and fight over a toy neither of them really wants.
Then there is of course the bedroom, where tears flow as though youth are being condemned to an eternity of hard labor. Deals are struck to stay up a little later only to be renegotiated when the lights finally go off. Pajamas are the straitjacket of the wild naked child, a Tarzan like character that leaps from dresser to bed declaring independence from all things parental. Like a scene from the Shawshank Redemption the older children stand vigil while the youngest commandos free of their bedroom chamber and sneaks to the bottom of the stairs blending with the shadows only to emerge while the most inappropriate portion of the movie boldly displays itself upon the television. Horrified eyes of parent and child meet.
I know what some of you are thinking. You are making this up. You are embellishing. Others are thinking why not step out of the house and allow that youthful energy to burn off. I will explain why. Your children will color the insides of their nostrils green and black with markers, they will soil themselves, they will argue to wear t-shirts in the winter and jackets in the summer; they will hide your car keys and quickly forget where they were stashed.
Where else in life can one find such lovable characters? These are by far the most interesting and entertaining years of my life.
Tobias Whitaker also blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad .