I realize I am extremely lucky; I have two sets of kids, 2 boys, 2 girls. I even have a set of dogs. My first pair of kids was extremely easy, even though looking back the memories seem a little hazy. I know there were moments of frustration, and yes, the utter, complete, insane exhaustion. When my Swan Princess was two and a half she had been potty trained for more than a year; she could speak complete sentences, and she thought she was a diva. Her older brother, my Gorgeous Boy, was a little gentleman. So for me, it was a tough decision whether or not to expand our family. But I (and my husband too, of course) decided to go for it, not only once, but twice. That’s how I got my Cangri and my Chubbers.
I honestly think that when children grow up, we only remember the best of their baby or toddler years. Did my first set keep me running all day nonstop, destroying a section of the house per second? Did I feel like a hamster running in a wheel all day, doing things but not accomplishing anything at all? I’m sure they did and that I did, but I’ve forgotten all about it.
My younger set of kids has a lot of similarities with my first, but also a lot of differences. For example, both of my boys have played stylist and chopped their sisters hair, to the complete delight of the girls and to my horror. Both sets have played Jeff and Yamile so scarily accurately that it’s not even funny; the boys pacing the house with a cell phone glued to their ear and the girls cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and lugging a baby to boot, all while reading a book. My oldest and my youngest have decorated the hardwood floors with permanent marker, and then proudly showed me their artistic creations, with so much satisfaction that I couldn’t bring myself to get mad at them. Both times I cried, but with my oldest I had learned permanent marker does come out of hardwood floors with alcohol, so this time I was prepared; and alcohol worked again, not only on hardwood but also on Jeff’s collection of Venezuelan clay dolls (clay as in porous, marker absorbing material, yeah).
My older set did not play swords with kitchen knives, and they didn’t flood the bathroom. They didn’t pour diffuser oil on my laptop, nor played tea party with my fairy tea set (the largest piece is about 2 inches) with the same oil. My older set was more obedient; the younger kids look at each other when I get mad, and they roar in laughter while their older siblings look in a mixture of horror and admiration and wait for my reaction. The little ones are only 2 and 4 years old. I don’t know what’s so funny about me, but they think I’m a hoot.
My older daughter is very proper and modest; my younger daughter waters the outside plants wearing only her T-shirt. “I had to go to the tree,” was her only explanation when she saw my expression, and she pointed at her brother who at that moment was going on the tree, if you know what I mean.
I could go on and on, relating at least twenty things they do each day to drive me crazy. I seriously think they plan their adventures at night, during the twenty minutes I’m asleep.
Usually by the time they FINALLY go to bed, I’m totally drained out of energy and purpose, and I treat myself to chocolate covered pretzels and a book to escape to my own adventures instead of working on my novel or updating my blog.
And then I look at their angelic faces, so peaceful and tender while they sleep, and I forget they drive me crazy. I hear them breathe, and I can’t help smiling, thanking Heaven for having sent them to me. When I’m finally reading a great story, and I’m inspired with the most amazing idea, I hear the patter of tiny, sleepy feet by my door. It’s usually them, together, my two terrible kids. They get in my bed and say, “I love you,” and in spite of the tiredness and desire to be alone, I just smile and hug them to sleep.