Outsmarted, Parenting Gone Awry

Do as I say, sort of…

Our house looks like Christo broke in. Everything is wrapped in plastic from floor to ceiling. We are having some of the rooms in our house painted which has made for an interesting week with Sean, Antique Daddy, five painters and me all sharing the same space and huffing latex.

Yesterday, since it was cold and rainy, I took Sean to the mall to get away from the paint if only for a few hours. We headed to the indoor kiddie play area where I figured Sean could bounce off the walls, floors and ceilings and spend all that pent-up two-year-old energy. I figured wrong.

The first thing he did was grab a book from the reading area and curl up in my lap and ask me to read to him. As I was reading I noticed the other mothers looking my way and whispering to each other behind their hands. I imagined they were saying things like “What a good mother she must be to raise such a well behaved and smart little fellow.” What they were probably saying was “How nice for his grandmother to take him to the mall. I wonder where his mother is.”

I pried Sean out of my lap and encouraged him to take advantage of all the cool things to do – a sliding board, tubes to crawl through, a miniature fun house, little toy cars and airplanes to sit in, OTHER CHILDREN. We have books at home, but we don’t have other miniature human beings! Sounding just like my mother, I ordered him to “Go Play!” My mom used to add “And don’t come back until after dark!” but the other mothers were already whispering about me, so I restrained myself.

Finally he did venture out. One begrudging little baby step at a time. But within 10 minutes, he’d forgotten that I ever existed and was running around like the maniac that he is at home. Since I am his primary playmate most days, I was enjoying watching him interact with the other kids. Until he started interacting with the other kids. And then I didn’t like it so much. Because those other kids aren’t as well behaved as I am. Those other kids have bad habits. They cough and pick their noses. And those are skills you should learn at home from your own parents.

It wasn’t long before he fell under the sway and influence of a boy whose behavior was way beyond the scale of pent-up toddler energy, more like pent-up TNT. If the Koreans are looking for spent nuclear fuel rods, I suggest they check this kids stool. Dynomite Boy mostly enjoyed body slamming himself into other children and immovable objects, belly flopping off the cubes and blocking the slide so no one else could use it and making rude noises that could be heard as far away as Nordstroms. I couldn’t blame the boy. His mother was sitting on the sidelines yelling into her cell phone and filing her nails oblivious to her two other children who were trying to kill each other with one of those Guggenheim drinking straws. She would occasionally break to holler benign threats in the direction of Dynomite Boy who totally could not care less.

That’s when I called to Sean, “Sweetie, why don’t you come over here and we’ll read some books. Or we can go home and play with the painters.” He raised both of his hands with an indignant gasp and just looked at me with an expression of confusion and exasperation. I felt badly because he had done exactly what I had asked of him. I said go and play with the other children, but what I meant was the other well-behaved children.

Kindergarten is only a few years off. This isn’t going to get easier, is it??

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