I’m pretty sure I hit a new all-time low the other morning when I almost called the police to help me find my “missing” five year old, only to take another look in his bedroom and find him skillfully hiding behind a clump of well-placed bedding. My phone with the police number already typed onto the dial pad was in my hand.
Imagine having to explain my incompetence to police officers, some of whom I see at court, my work, often enough to regularly relive my embarassment – forever remembered as the one who called 911 to have the police play hide-and-seek with my wayward son.
I like to think my boys are - at heart - just active, curious, and energetic…rowdy and rambunctious, but not naughty.
But recently, those sweet little hooligans have taken it too far. The pendulum swung in their direction and they started taking control. It happened slowly, almost imperceptibly, before my eyes.
Mostly, they were operating as a criminal enterprise, covering up for each other, holding secret meetings filled with whispers and scheming, and leaving a stream of mischief in their wake. Mostly, it was silly shenanigans like indoor water gun battles, constant hockey fights, and covertly playing the DS and I-Pod which had been taken from them as punishments.
But, Billy’s latest stunt stunned me out of complacency. There was no ignoring it anymore. We had to reel them in.
What shocked me most about it was that my sweet baby boy was so brazen. He heard my and Eddie’s desperate voices calling him from inside and outside the house at 6:45 a.m., yet he never emerged from his spot.
When I finally found him behind his castle of blankets, he was boldly unflinching. Jaw set, chin jutted, only his eyes betrayed his fear.
He knew this time he was in huge trouble. With an equal amount of relief and rage, I carried on and on. Billy heard the wrath of a mom wronged.
A very weepy boy made his way – late – to daycare. I spent my commute wondering how his latest morning revolt could have ended so badly, and spent the day silently berating myself for not being able to parent with panache.
Kids have a way of reminding us of our shortcomings. It’s easy to get caught in a web of self-doubt when things go awry.
But, that’s the rub of parenthood. Because we are raising little individuals and not robots, sometimes things don’t go according to the best laid plans.
Kids live at the junction of human nature and human nurture. They’re governed half by impulses, and half by parents. Our task: to squash the bad impulses, guide them toward the right decisions, and avoid losing our sanity in the process.
All of this feels a lot like being the conductor of a runaway train, navigating twists and turns at relentless speeds, all the while trying to prevent a crash. Our very own version of a crazy train.
Still, although robots would be a lot easier to control, robots wouldn’t be as much fun and every day wouldn’t be filled with love.
And, though I’m doubtful I will ever look back and laugh at Billy’s latest escapade, someday it might make me smile…maybe.
But, please don’t tell Billy that. He’s being punished for all of eternity. Or, at least until he’s twenty-five.