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Lessons in Futility

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Doing laundry last night, it occurred to me that I am an idiot. I'm a reasonably competent woman with a job and a college degree and yet, it is possible that I am dumber than a box of rocks. I know this because I have a 5-year-old boy and I keep buying him white underwear.

What looks cute in the store is less adorable when you're scrubbing poop stains out of your third pair of pint-sized briefs. Especially when I'd rather be watching True Blood -- although at the end of the hour when every character seemed to be drenched in supernatural blood and gore, I started to think I got off easy. Little Dude's butt has nothing on the demise of at least 50 vampires. I hope that doesn't spoil the episode for anyone.

Scrubbing poop, of course, got me thinking about the other truly moronic things I do as a parent. You know what's scary? It took me ten minutes to come up with this list and I'm only stopping because I have to go switch the laundry.

1. I buy white underwear for a preschooler. (It seemed worth repeating. Learn from my mistakes people.)

2. I ask my kids "How was your day?" after school. I get the same response every day. My teenager says, "It was good. Nothing exciting." Little Dude says, "I don't remember. Can I go play?" That does not stop me from asking and, worse yet, expecting that they'll suddenly sit down and fill me in on all the juicy details of the past 8 hours.

3. I threaten Little Dude with outrageous punishments that I will never implement. He knows this, because when I turn purple and apoplectic and inform him that if he does X one more time I will send him to his room for a week, he just looks at me and smiles.

4. I tell Little Dude that too much sugar is bad for him and then buy him gummy vitamins. Lots of them. And reward him with candy. Yesterday I got him to swim in the deep end of the pool by telling him I'd get him whatever he wanted from the snack bar. Cue the Swedish Fish.

5. I try new gourmet recipes for my kids' meals. Because nothing says disaster like a dish made with prunes and olives. I should accept that tomato soup is a culinary success and save my inner Julia Child for dinners with my husband.

6. I still believe that there will be regular dinners with my husband.

7. I try to sneak out of the house before my son falls asleep at night. I don't know if it is pheromones or some weird sixth sense, but the minute I make a move for the door, he knows. It's like I have my own personal stalker.

8. I hide vegetables in food. Have you ever met a kid who can't tell the difference between mac 'n cheese made with sweet potatoes and one rich in butter and powdered cheese stuff? Me neither.

9. I negotiate with a 5-year-old. Sadly, he is better at it than me. Yesterday he bargained for two cups of juice, a treat from the snack bar (see #4), and a late bedtime of 10 p.m. (see #12). In exchange, I got two hours of hyper, a lot of guilt and a grumpy kid this morning.

10. I agree to things when I'm not really listening. I may have promised Little Dude a pony tonight while he was playing, but I can't be sure because I was checking my email.

11. I ask my son to get dressed by himself and am shocked when he comes in wearing madras shorts, striped socks and a plaid shirt. Then I ask him to change. Because. I. Am. That. Stupid.

12. I cave when Little Dude asks to stay up late. Because he's cute. Then I am horrified when he's a crabby, wild-eyed monster at breakfast.

13. I take him to the local bicycle group's "Learn How to Ride a Bike" lesson and assure him that he'll know how to ride by the end of the morning despite the fact that he has NEVER balanced on his bike before. It did not end in success. Thank goodness my husband distracted both of us by taking us to lunch. And frozen yogurt. I refer you to #4.

14. I took my kid to bicycle riding lessons.

15. I tell Little Dude not to yell for me across the house. When he does, I yell at him across the house to remind him not to yell for me across the house. It's like my own personal 9th level of hell. With lots of shouting.

I could go on, but until I figure out how to regain the IQ points I lost in childbirth, I'm off to the laundry room. If anyone cares to join me, I'm happy for the company. Just bring your own stain remover. I'm running low.

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