On Father’s Day, I posted this on Facebook:
We decided to take the family to see Wonder Woman and now everyone’s crying.
And you guys, You Guys!, were all amazing. Because you assumed that everyone was crying at how good the movie was, how kick-ass Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was. And it was. So good. Except if you had seen me sitting there in my stadium seating, you would have thought I was watching a different movie altogether, because I was in tears. Yes. Crying my head off from the opening credits. Because my children weren’t crying because they loved the movie.
They were crying because I had the nerve to force them to spend time with their father on Father’s Day and make them see this movie, complete with snacks and sugary drinks.
HOW DARE I!
Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems, friends.
One was having a panic attack about an upcoming math exam that she was absolutely going to fail. Basically it was all my fault because she didn’t have the two hours to spare, even though I had driven her and paid $85 for her to spend time with her tutor that morning. One had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and was forced to go out for breakfast with his dad and his grandfather…on Father’s Day. And one of them just doesn’t do superhero movies.
Everyone was yelling at me.
I’m finding this stage of parenting to be an incredibly difficult one. I was pretty good at the little years. My babies were champion eaters and sleepers, and were endlessly entertained by a light-up and extremely noisy bouncy seat. The problems were few. Sure, I once clipped Isabella’s finger instead of just her nail, and sure, we had an unfortunate trapped-behind-her-bed moment during Emily’s toddler sleep training, and well, there was that one time when Josh peed into his eye socket. And for the most part, it was easy to please my toddlers and kids and even tweens. You just have to get down to their level, plan a lot of playdates, watch a lot of plays and dances, listen to a lot of stories, and become an expert at melty bead projects.
But this stage? I don’t even know what to call this stage. Or how to navigate it.
You know that moment at Target when your child falls to the ground in a complete full body temper tantrum because you had to tell her that the marshmallow cereal isn’t kosher and we just can’t buy it so you just stand there trying not to make any kind of eye contact with anyone lest they judge you for basically ignoring said child and for maybe, just maybe, laughing a tiny bit?
Oh how I long for those blissful days.
Yesterday afternoon I was on a work conference call [Note to self: this is a post for another time — Ali on Work Conference calls: A Nightmare Tale] and the doorbell rang. I put myself on mute to no one would hear my dog losing his mind, but really it was so that no one would hear me asking [screaming] one of my three children to answer the door. Literally no one answered the door. See also: The telephone. See also: Feeding the dog. See also: Letting the dog out. See also: Moving the shoes out of the front hall. See also: Filling the dishwasher. See also: Emptying the dishwasher. See also: Basically every single thing I ask of my children.
96% of the time I say the wrong thing. 48% of the time I look at one of them the wrong way. 99.9% of the time there’s never enough food in the house and 80% of that there’s never enough of the right food.
But you know, most of these things I can just say: This is what it’s like to have two teenagers and one almost teenager. This is just a stage; I know we will get over this. These are little things. The bickering between siblings? I did it. I 100% did it. And now I absolutely love my siblings. The “I will” attitude with no intention of ever doing the thing? I did it! I SO did it.
The real issue for me is that I’m going to soon be sending these young adults into the world to spread their wings and become actual, real-live adults. I‘m terrified that I’m losing time every single day to help them become good humans.
Emily just finished 10th grade. She has just two years left in high school before she goes for a gap year in Israel. Have I helped her realize that maybe she doesn’t need to get 100 on every exam? Have I helped her decided if she wants to take tri-sci or not? Have I made the wrong choice letting her give up the school play or dance? Was it wrong to have that argument with her over her skirt length?
Josh just finished 9th grade, he’s 1/4 finished with high school. How do I get him to decide what he wants to be when he grows up? How do I teach him the importance of shaving and of sleeping and of leaving his Madden football game for a minute? How do I help him be blissfully happy? Have I made the wrong choice letting him give up hockey, baseball, football? Did I snap at him too often?
Isabella is deep in the throes of middle school. Am I helping her navigate social media? Have I helped her learn to be a good friend, nay, a best friend? How can I help her with her academic struggles? Am I able to help her make good eating choices?
I blinked and my babies are grown.
And yelling at me in front of movie theaters.
She got an A on the exam, by the way.