Don't me wrong, I do think kids are cute.
I admit that I've marveled at the tiny toes of newborns and laughed at the silly things that can tumble from a child's mouth.
But there is a dark side to parenting.
And I'm prepared to go through a list of some of the things that I've encountered.
1. BE PREPARED FOR INAPPROPRIATE CONVERSATIONS
The other day we were at Target. I was browsing in my favorite spot, the clearance rack, and Tommy was bouncing beside me. "Guess what?" he suddenly said excitedly. "What?" I answered as I checked the price tag for a pair of toddler pants. I assumed that he'd tell me something mundane. He's been learning about teeth at school so I figured he'd spout off on the importance of flossing. I've already been lectured by him because I rarely floss. Sue me. I made the mistake of admitting this to Tommy, who gasped and went, "But Mommy! Floss keeps your teeth healthy!" I thought that's what he'd tell me as I pushed past clothes on the rack. But no. What he said was:
"Anus is another word for butt!"
Of course he said it right when another woman strolled past. She gaped at Tommy as though he had just let loose a string of expletives.
"Tommy," I hissed. "That's not appropriate. Where did you learn that?"
Tommy grinned proudly. "Steven. He's in second grade," he said matter-of-factly.
"Well, tell Steven, who is in second grade, that it's not appropriate to talk about butts at school," I replied firmly.
"We weren't at school, we were on the bus," Tommy answered sweetly.
2. BE PREPARED FOR MISINFORMED CHILDREN
We went to the gas station last night. Not for gas, but for the cheap fountain drinks with cherry shots. We stood in line and Tommy was bouncing up and down beside me. I'm used to this. The kid barely sits still. There was an older lady behind us who was staring at Tommy with wide eyes. Finally she asked Tommy how he had so much energy.
"I have ADHD. It means I never sit and I fart a lot."
I need to re-explain what ADHD means now.
3. BE PREPARED FOR HEART ATTACKS
I've lost count on how many times that I've nearly passed out from worry over my kids.
There was that one time where Natalie did a face plant right on the concrete. I was sure that something had to be broken. (Nothing was.)
And then yesterday, when Tommy didn't return home from school.
The bus stop is across the street and he's recently started walking home by himself. I think he was embarrassed to be the only one with a mother who waited patiently by the bus stop. He told me seriously one day that he was a big kid now and that there was no reason why I needed to wait for him.
"My baby!" I shrieked.
"I'm not a baby anymore," Tommy said calmly.
I agreed. He was right. He's nearly seven (on Monday!) and I have to pull back a little bit.
The past few days he's returned home without any issues.
Yesterday, 3:30 came and went and he never showed.
I began to panic.
But I thought, okay, the bus is late.
But then 3:40 rolled around and I was practically in tears. I put Natalie on my hip and darted outside, looking around frantically for my little boy. I rushed towards the direction of the bus stop to see if he was playing in the dirt. He's easily distractable, you see.
But he wasn't there.
So then I hurried back to the house and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a little figure at a distance beside the house playing in a mound of snow.
I zeroed in on the person and realized it was Tommy.
"TOMMY!" I screamed.
Tommy froze. He was bent over, poised to pick up some snow. But then he spotted his hysterical mother coming at him and he became immobile.
"Tommy, what are you DOING?" I shrieked.
Tommy straighened himself and slowly made his way over to me.
"You need to come HOME first before you play. I was worried SICK!" I continued.
I thought I saw a neighbor poke their face out a window before darting out of view.
Hello. Welcome to the Freak Out show.
"I was worried SICK!" I repeated.
"SICK!" Natalie parroted.
And Tommy, who has always been my sensitive child, burst into tears.
"I'm sorry, Mommy!" he said through sobs. "I just wanted to look at the snow before it melted. I'm SORRY!"
We all walked back into the house. Me, still shaking with worry and Tommy, shaking with his tears and Natalie, shaking her finger in Tommy's direction going, "Sick, sick, sick!"
4. BE PREPARED TO NEVER HAVE YOUR HOUSE FULLY CLEAN FOR A LONG LONG TIME
By the time I've finished cleaning the living room, another room is trashed.
So then I go clean THAT room and then the living room is a mess again.
It's a neverending cycle.
5. KNOW THAT NOTHING WILL EVER JUST BELONG TO YOU AGAIN
I'm not kidding.
My books that I read? They're immediately taken by Natalie.
My cell phone? See above.
My chocolate? See above again.
It's caused me to shriek, "Isn't anything just MINE in this house?" on more than one occasion.
Silly, silly, Amber. The answer is no.
6. UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR HOUSE WILL BECOME A GIANT EASEL
Children are sneaky creatures. The second you go to clean up another one of their messes, they're off doing something like this.
You can try hiding the crayons. But they have a Magic Crayon Finder brain and will always come across one.
Stock up on Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. They will become your best friend.