Last week my oldest daughter called to report a problem with her
oldest daughter. Her daughter is ten and she is excelling, not only at
school, but at sassiness. Discipline has been a challenge. “If you don’t get
off your i-pad, you lose dessert.” Her response might be, “Good. I hate
dessert!” (That is not true.)
Next, she’ll try, “If you don’t clean your room, you can’t go out and play
in the snow.” Her response, “Good, I hate the snow.” (That is not true.)
I can feel her blood pressure rising on the phone. Her husband tells her
they are too much alike. “You are fighting with a younger version of
yourself,” he says.
Fortunately, when the kids were young, I wrote journals in bed every
morning, while I sipped my coffee. I have documented evidence of
their behavior during their childhood years. I never planned to root
through them for evidence. I just thought I’d have good memories of
when they were kids. Now I’m holding my stomach laughing with one
hand and I have the other hand reaching for Advil just reading a few
of these treasures.
The first journal held stories of peanut butter swirls. Not on bread; on each other.
I had gone to get fresh towels out of the dryer when one of the genius’s
decided peanut butter would be a fun activity. I arrived back in the
bathroom, to a very strong fragrance of peanut butter. They had their
backs to me as they attempted to scamper back into the tub. By the time
I noticed the front of their bodies, the water was a caramel color.
They had slathered chunky peanut butter all over each other. Their chests
were swirled as if they were serious artists. Of course, this was the expensive
organic brand that I bought to keep them free of preservatives. I’d just came
up the stairs, I asked, (Ok maybe I yelled) “Where did this come from?”
The youngest genius confessed. “It was under my bed. I was hungry last
night.” His sisters were busy trying to repair the broken swirls on their chests.
It had been a very long day, so I demanded, “Everyone out! Leave the peanut
butter in the tub. Do not re-apply it like sunscreen.”
It took twenty minutes to clear the peanut butter, organic chunky, no less, out
of the tub and drain. I could hear them chattering down the hall. I was convinced
they be ashamed of their behavior and have remorse.
Instead, I overheard, “You are really a good artist. You even filled in your belly
button hole,” my middle child congratulated her older sister.
Not to be outdone, the oldest showed my youngest son why his peanut
butter, organic chunky, wouldn’t say on his chest. His hands were too wet.
He attempted to come dry them off in the bathroom, but I gave him my best
mean Mom face. He ran down the hall.
By the time I got them de-peanut buttered, organic chunky, I was ready for bed.
The phone rang. It was my Mom checking in. I reported the horror the of evening
tubby fiasco. She laughed harder and harder, as I told her more details.
“Anne, “she said, “These are the best years of your life!”
I almost cried into the phone, “Mom, why would you tell me that? It has to
get better! I’m going to go stick my head in the oven!” My husband reported
that the appliance man hadn’t arrived to replace the heating element yet.
I could try the dryer.
With five kids growing up in our house, dull moments were rare. If things
were quiet, I got nervous. My heart even beat faster with the suspense
building. What were they doing now? Quiet was never a good thing.
Just the other day I found myself counseling my daughters. “Life goes by
so fast, yon need to relax in these moments and get your own journals.
You will forget all the little things that feel so huge today,” I said wisely.
I think my Mom may have been watching from Heaven to hear all three of us chime in. “Just like Nan
always said, these are the best days of your life.”
She was right.