There's a lot of milestones you expect: seeing your child off, at her first day of pre-school, taking pictures at Kindergarten graduation, and many other Hallmark moments I haven't encountered yet. But there are so many other little milestones that amaze and humble me, like the day your son has bigger feet than you.
We passed this milestone a few weeks ago, when I slipped my feet inside the work-a-day black faux leather shoes by the front door. Except that they felt really loose. So I took a closer look at realized they were Primo's shoes and they were too big on me.
Holy shit, I thought with wonder. Then followed a bittersweet combination of feelings. How could time be passing so fast? Will I blink and he'll be leaving for college? Was I doing a good enough job of being a mother? Was it too late to do better? How wonderful that we've made it this far together! How happy I am, and grateful, to have a kid who's turning into a person i really like and want to spend time with. How soon, I'll be gray and wrinkled and in a nursing home. Remembering the day my son was born, the first time I saw him. Sort of wishing he was a baby again. Sort of wishing he was graduating college, Wanting immediately to go kiss his big tousled head and admire his gargantuan man-sized feet.
Crying, in the foyer, near my front door, wondering what I came her to do in the first place.
These are the little moments that creep up on you.
Terza is a wunderkind as relates to verbal expression; she's quite a talker and it's no surprise why, coming from this family of borderline pathological chatterboxes.
But she hasn't grasped one shockingly simple word and it's making life rather aggravating for me. Her lexicon doesn't appear to include the word "don't."
Let me be clear. She expresses the sentiment of "don't" - very, very frequently. She is all about NOT wanting something, NOT being on board. That's kind of her thing now. It's a shitty thing to be your thing but not altogether uncommon for a child of two years old.
She just doesn't know how to express this sentiment verbally. She's nailed down "No!" as well as "No way, Jose!" and, even "It's not fair!"
But, often, she says "I want it!" when she actually means, "I don't want it!" or even "I absolutely don't want it" or even, "There is nothing on God's green earth I want less than that abhorrent abomination of a thing you are offering me."
Yet, what she says is, "I want it!" This leads to some very confusing, and equally frustrating, interactions.
Case in point: she wakes from a nap, cranky as all hell, and I ask "Do you want some milk?" and she replies, in a snarl: "I want it!" and I go get it and when I give it to her, she slaps it out of my hand, hard, like I've just mortally insulted her, handed her a steaming pile of cow dung to ingest.
"I WANT IT!!" she shrieks.
"So, I"m giving it to you!" I reply.
"I WANT IT!" she reiterates, swatting at it again.
"You want it?" I confirm.
"NOOOOO!" she bellows.
"So you DON'T want it?" I try again.
"I," she starts, and I'm paying attention, really rapt here, "WANT. IT."
"Mommy doesn't understand," I say, "You want it or you don't want it?"
"I want it!" she screams, shaking her head.
This is the point at which I want to scream: "I AM LIVING IN CRAZY LAND!" Usually, I suppress this instinct though not always.
The wildest my Saturday nights get lately is rocking out to Wheels On The Bus with Terza while making a dinner of the raviolis she threw on the floor. Still, when I stop to think about it, my new Saturday night companion isn’t all that different from my former ones, those late-twenty-somethings clutching cocktails and shouting to be heard above the music. There are (usually) fewer F-bombs dropped and more imitations of farm animals, yes, and there’s no doubt that my current date is a helluva lot cuter than the old ones, but still, when all is said and done, my toddler, likealltoddlers, acts a lot like a raging drunk. Perpend:
1. They fall down constantly
2. When they talk, it frequently makes no sense
3. They trash your house
4. They’re prone to shouting and belligerence.
5. They cry for no good reason
6. They like to pull all-nighters
7. They’re always taking their clothes off. .
8. They piss themselves
9. One minute you’re their best friend, the next, their worst enemy
10. They fall asleep with a bottle in their hands.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.