If you're a parent, you've turned around and looked at your child at some point and said, "What the hell? That's my kid?" I usually say this when Annie is laying on the floor in a public place, screaming herself hoarse and kicking any walls within immediate reach. Today, I experienced this in a whole new way. While video taping her on this rope swing, I had two crystal clear thoughts: I love that she is bold enough to try this, and what on earth are her grandparents going to say?
Watching your two year-old run the length of a 75 foot trampoline and then jump into a totally foreign pit of gray and red foam brings up plenty of emotions: My children are growing so quickly. Where does the fear impulse come from? I'm so freaking proud of this person. Am I losing my mind letting her do this?
In the end, I try and make the bulk of my parenting decisions based on how well adjusted the girls will be after they either experience the sheer joy of success or the sheer agony of a broken ulna.
Three is an interesting age. The three-year old mind is exploding with new thoughts and absorbing more information than you ever will again in your life. Never underestimate your three-year old's ability to both remember and invent. You might say Annie's bedtime routine is a classic example. We've done all of the following steps for over two months now.
Kiss, Hug, Honk, and Rub
Annie chooses the order of the four actions guaranteed to make a toddler go to sleep. Seriously, there was a study on this somewhere. She often picks kiss first and then asks for exactly three kisses on her back and "no extras". Step two is usually a nose honk. This has morphed from a run-of-the-mill honk of the nose to a multi-part honk, complete with high or low pitched catchphrases based on how hard Annie squeezes my nose. We then move on to a very generic hug, with absolutely no strings attached. Lastly we do the rub, in which I rub Annie's head and she giggles. Then she rubs my head, and if I don't giggle exactly the way she expects, we try again. This could be a different giggle every night.
Don't worry folks, I wouldn't let my first child go to bed with such little fanfare.
She next asks me to say "I love you across the hall," which means I need to slowly walk across her room while saying I love you.
Once I reach the bedroom door, we enter the final--and most serious--stage of Annie's good night routine. By the way, she calls this whole thing her 'tine. This is where I whisper the classic nighttime well wish...sleep tight. You might think I'd close the door here and be done with it, but instead we first have to cluck like a chicken, flap our wings, and say bock bock bock--really. And then we have to flap our outstretched arms like a bird and say flap flap flap--I shit you not. Finally, seriously finally, Annie says "good night, goodbye, I love you" and I walk out the door. If Annie isn't satisfied with any part of her bedtime extravaganza she will scream until I come back and fix the grievous mistake I made.
Keep in mind, I'm a pretty good parent. The problem is that every little step was a slippery slope, and before you know it, BAM!, craziness. Now that I've learned this, I stop her before she can add anything new. Lately she has been trying to get me to draw circles on the wall with her in between kiss, hug, honk, and rub and I love you across the hall. No way kid, I'm too smart for that.