Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It has occurred to me that the number one way for me to become a better parent is not to lead by example, hand down regular and predictable discipline, or even to practice greater patience. The best way for me to become a better parent is for me to devise some way of fast-forwarding time.

Now I realize that the 3 or so years that come between ages 18 mos and 5 years are crucial to a child's development. I understand that people who study these things out have come to know that it is within these years that a child separates from its mother, forms his or her own identity, and learns to be his or her own entity.

I also realize that as a mother I need (oh! how I need!) my child to do these things. Afterall, did I really want to carry my child on my hip until he or she is 6? I certainly do NOT want to be changing diapers to age 21. But this separation is painful!

After 4 children you would think I would have a system devised for dealing with these years. I do not. They are as big a mystery to me today as they were between 1995 and 1999. I have no better way of dealing with tantrums over donuts that never existed than I did over tantrums thrown over the sudden realization that becoming Cinderella as a grown up was not an option.

After 4 children you might think that I would have devised a fool-proof method for deterring back-talk. I'd be willing to share it with you! Maybe I'll write a book and sell it. That is, after I've figured out how to actually make it stop.

After 4 children, you'd probably expect that my home runs like a well-oiled machine where children of all ages assist each other in daily responsibilities, parents treat children with patience and respect, and "Love at Home" is the predominant feeling. Yes, Love we've got...but patience, respect, helpfullness, those things happen, but the moments are fleeting and I've yet to devise a way to make them last.

So, it has occurred to me that I can be a much more efficient parent if I can fast forward the years between 18 mos and 5 years. We can head straight from the totally dependent years to the totally cooperative (for about 6 mos in that magical time we call Kindergarten) in the blink of an eye. Don't let any grandmothers tell you that it all really DOES happen in the blink of an eye because I am now in my 10th year of parenting a child who is in this "separation stage" and I am telling you, it doesn't FEEL like a blink of an eye. I am putting "Scientific" (Gabe) in charge of the time travel machine. If Lily doesn't destroy it while he's working on it, it may be up and running by some-time tomorrow.

Now, I do have some questions as to how Time-Travel-for-Tots will work. First of all, will I be able to franchise this and become wealthy? Second of all, will my child come out recognizeable? Will he or she have the same personality traits I so adore? Will he or she be able to handle confrontation, pottying, disappointment, and feeding herself? In the course of my child's participation in Time-Travel-for-Tots will I have gained necessary wisdom and knowledge for dealing with any potential backlashes? What about memories? Can I download a program which completes my memory of the funny, downright hilarious antics that 2 and 4 year olds participate in? I'm not sure motherhood will be the same without memories of children kicking and screaming their way out the door of a department store yelling "I'm not going to jail for this!" or a screwed up face with hand on hips saying "duh mom".

I don't know, maybe I should just wait for the amnesia of great-grandparent-hood to set in, when all I remember are the good times, my children were the smartest on the block, and I was the most patient, long-suffering parent that ever existed. Yes, that might be better than Time-Travel-for-Tots...(but probably not as lucrative!)


Kristina P. said...

Good luck! Let me know how this works out for you. Maybe we can install one at work, and just shove all the kids in there.

Lara Neves said...

Part of the problem is the fact that what works for one kid doesn't work for another and you just have to learn all over again. I love your idea..especially since I'm going crazy with my own 2 year old right now whose favorite words are "No! I don't want to!"