A few days ago, a buddy of mine asked me for advice on becoming a new parent. I told him that I was no expert and I only do what works for me. But I didn't want to leave him hanging, so I gave him a few of my "bread 'n butters." I told him to get a REAL nice coffee maker and a case of stain sticks. And to do himself a favor and take all his valuable and treasured shit and put it in storage for a few years. He shouldn't get comfortable having anything nice. And lastly, I corrected a long-lived parenting circle cliche. If you ask parents what the most difficult time period was for raising kids, you usually get one answer: the terrible twos.
I looked my friend square in the eye and said, "F*CK the terrible twos. The twos ain't got shit on the threes. The threes are where it's at."
Every day, I suit up for battle. It's not just the usual twice-a-day stuff like "I don't wanna go." or "I don't wanna eat that for breakfast."
I'm talking about something every hour. Telling me that all the tags in her clothes are itchy and that she hates toast, even though she had eight pieces the day before. Getting up in her brother's face like The Gooch, ripping anything and everything away from him so that he'll never enjoy a moment of his childhood. Falling to the ground, claiming her "knees hurt" when I ask her to walk up the stairs, as I stand behind her holding eight grocery bags and her brother around my neck. Protesting that something is too cold or hot when it's the exact opposite. Refusing to get in the bathtub because she thinks the flower petals from her bath fizzy are dirt. And reenacting Indian war dances as soon as I get on the phone with my student loan reps. Screaming, pushing, punching, biting, spitting, back-talking, karate kicks and testicle head butts. All in a day's work.
So, you could imagine the joy I experienced a few months ago when we began sending her to preschool two days a week.
Sure, I've still got Charlie during that time, so it's not a total reprieve, but it's three hours with half the chaos. "Let the friggin' teachers deal with that crap. Let them see!" I stated to my wife after she sauntered in from work (no hard feelings) with a latte.
Anyway, Ava's parent-teacher conference was yesterday. I had to go. Not that I HAD to go, I WANTED to go. I WANTED to see what her teachers had to say about this straight-up bullsh*t that was going down. I wanted to count the wrinkles and gray hairs that she's given them since September. I wanted to confirm that she made short work of them, as I strutted around the room like a rooster, bobbing my head, flapping my elbows and cock-a-doodle-doodling in your face!
But I kept my cool. For a few minutes, anyway.
My wife and I walked in and sat down. We exchanged a few pleasantries and the teacher began...
"Your daughter is amazing. Your daughter follows directions and always cleans up after herself. Your daughter respects and gets along with the other kids. Your daughter shares well and is courteous. Your daughter is a good friend. Your daughter is a joy to have in this class."
I looked over at my wife with a furrowed brow and with only my eyes, said, Who in the hell is this girl she keeps calling my daughter?
Clearly, this woman is on drugs, or maybe she's got Alzheimer's, God bless her.
MY daughter boycotted bananas because she once saw a housefly land on one. MY daughter pulls and stretches the hell out of a brand new shirt, throws it on the living room floor and then tells me it doesn't fit. MY daughter screams at me like Sam Kinison to not look at her while she's pooping.
So, who was this Jekyll n' Hyde? Where did she come from?
According to her teacher, this is somewhat common. Kids learn quickly how to manipulate their parents and know exactly what buttons to push and when. Perhaps it's an early stage of rebellion rooted in her trying to find her independence.
Fine. I get it. That makes sense. I need a helmet, some Kevlar body armor and a therapist for the next few months. Done deal.