Mother Trucker and God's Magic Wand
August 1, 2006
With summer in full swing, I had the opportunity to spend a little extra time with my kids thanks to some days off and a couple weekend vacations. With four children under the age of six, the word “vacation” applies only to the kids. For the parents, it’s more like a boot camp for little people. If you have ever yelled at your kids to “Have fun!”, you know what I’m talking about. Regardless, between diaper changes, shouting matches, and hourly doses of caffeine, I learned a lot about my kids.
One thing I did NOT learn about my kids yet is their names. I feed them, read to them, bathe them, help them with schoolwork, but I can’t remember their names. I know all the names collectively; I’m just not sure what name belongs to whom. Olivia is Nicole. Summer is Olivia. Heck, half the time I call my son by the dog’s name and vice versa. For the sake of this column, I will simply call them #1, #2, #3, and #4. I will suggest this approach as a real life option, but I think my wife will exercise her veto power.
Moving on to what I learned on my summer vacation. #1 is the drama queen of all drama queens. With #1, no reaction is unplanned and every emotion is premeditated. A stubbed toe turns into the possible loss of a limb, and water in the eyes during a shower is akin to getting maced in the back alley. The good times are overly good as well: giving the “okay” for ice cream after dinner is greeted with over exaggerated hugs and “thank yous” from #1, complete with “daddy you shouldn’t haves” and so forth. It’s as if #1 is PLAYING the role of a six year-old rather than LIVING it. Oh yeah, and she didn’t come with an “off” button, so if the sun is up, she is talking.
No offense to #2, but for a four year-old, she’s about as lazy as they come. Polite, but lazy. A typical conversation: “Please put your plate in the sink.” Her response: “No thank you.” She redeems herself with unintentional humor and a “tell it like it is” attitude I swear she inherited directly from her great grandmother. During my time off, I was driving #2 somewhere and, after thinking about it for some time, she posed this question: “Daddy, does God have a wand?” How cute yet profound, I thought. It was only after another conversation with her a week later in which she informed me of God’s blue cape and cone-shaped hat that I realized #2 was merely patterning God after the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella.
On another ride home from a vacation, #1 was talking, singing, and whining about one thing or another the entire way home. Sitting next to her, #2 finally had enough of the audio pollution and said flatly, “Hey, go make a sign that says ‘No Complaining In The Car.’” Upon hearing this, it sent roars of laughter throughout the minivan, primarily from my wife, me, and then #3, who started laughing because it seemed like the thing to do. Of course, the laughter made the drama queen (#1) cry as if she had been stabbed with a set of knives sharpened with the sarcasm of a four year-old. In fact, she had.
Quite different from the girls is my son, #3. #3 is as happy-go-lucky as they get, even if he is getting yelled at while smashing watermelon in his face. The only time he is unhappy is when there is candy in sight but out of reach. Then again, I tear up if there is a bag of Skittles in the office not belonging to me, so I can see where he’s coming from.
Just short of his second birthday, mastering the English language is #3’s next step, and it has been a step that has produced some salty language of late. From him, not me. You see, being a boy, he loves trains, trucks, and other modes of toy transportation he can smash into things. However, the “tr” sound is still sounding a LOT like an “f” sound, so his demand for trucks can get vulgar in a hurry. We actually have a video of #3 spouting his unintentional potty mouth and plan to blackmail him when the need arises.
That brings me to #4, our five month-old girl who never fusses and always sleeps when needed. Except when her mom leaves the house. Despite the constant praises from my wife that “she never cries, she’s such a good baby,” etc., I am not fooled. Without fail, ten minutes after my wife leaves the house, after lulling me into a false sense of security, #4 screams and cries and won’t let up until ten minutes before my wife gets home. Somehow, perhaps it’s a sixth sense of sorts, #4 knows when she leaves and when she’s coming home, always dialing it down BEFORE my wife steps in the house so I sound like a crazy person when I talk about how bad #4 has been. “Asleep when I left, asleep when I get home. No problem there” is what my wife is thinking, I’m sure.
Luckily, I am becoming quite adept at accepting the role of crazy person. With a dual personality baby, a swearing son, a smart aleck daughter, and a drama queen to help with my acting chops, I might even have an Oscar in my future. I’ll just make sure my son doesn’t help with the speech.