Today is the last day that Mr. Pants will ever be two years old. So it's as good a day as any to finally master the number two on his hands. On his way to school this morning, he finally got it. And of coarse, this achievment made me misty. Because I am the sap from the sappiest sugary-est tree. Tomorrow we will begin to work on three fingers. I bet he gets that super fast. But for today, he is two. And what kind of sap would I be if I didn't start thinking about his whole little life as he walked down the driveway with Daddy to get on the bus? I mean, you know I did. I went all the way back to the very beginning. Before he was even here. Yep, I'm a marshmallow. I went through his entire life in my head. Has it really only been three years? Because I feel like I've known him forever. As I sat down to write about him, I got stuck on something that my brother told me when I was pregnant.
When you're pregnant for the first time people tell you all sorts of things. Mostly about how you will never sleep again (TRUE!) and how you should soak up every bit of them as babies because it goes by too fast (True times infinity).
(At this point, I usually need someone to shake me by the shoulders or smack me back into reality. Not for real smacking, more like a verbal smack across the cheek. Thankfully, I always have my friends and family for that. )
So, I thought about this a lot before lil dude was born. A lot. It really did worry me that I might not have the nuts to raise a boy. Pun totally intended. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to relate to him. Understand him. But eventually I snapped out of it and realized I was not giving birth to an alien. I was having a human boy. And I would just figure him out. It helps that Daddy is also a boy, so my plan was to defer to him on boy related issues. Like when Mr. Pants became a nudist and slammed his junk onto things as he hurdled furniture ("I mean, doesn't that hurt him? Wouldn't that hurt you?"). Or when he got a sunburn On. His. Penis. Daddy nearly passed out at the thought. Because, you know, OW. I just didn't think to put sunblock there. But Daddy sure did. Lesson learned. Protect the goods. Got it. Beyond that, I didn't have to worry. I didn't have to do anything different just because he was boy. I just had to be his mom. It's a simple idea. But sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to get to.
Then Ms. Plum came along. A girl. How would this change him? How would she be different? She's more emotional. More dramatic. More relaxed. More affectionate. I think it would be easy to suggest that it's because she is a girl. But that's really not it. It's not gender that is determining these things. She just came that way. And he came his way. We parent them the same. I'm sure sometimes that doesn't happen but it's what we strive for. Boys get the same amount of kisses as girls and girls are allowed to climb and fall just like the boys are. As I type this, Plum is playing with a semi truck. And just last night, Mr. Pants nursed his Care Bear and changed his diaper. Comforting Wish Bear, "Don Ky! Iz OK baby!" and giving him kisses.
So here we are. Today is the last day that Mr. Pants will be two. Three years out from what my brother said to me. I would probably bet money that when it comes down to it, Mr. Pants has taught me more than I have taught him. And we obviously have a ways to go before he's learned how to treat a partner. But I have no doubt that he will get there. Because honestly? He has no choice. I refuse to raise a jerk face. So we plant the seeds now. And the best way to do that, in this stage of his development, is by showing him. By being the people we hope that he and Plum will also be. That, my friends, is not always easy. We give hugs and kisses all day, everyday (easy part!) and we speak to them gently (most of the time) and with respect. And when I find that I am not parenting the way I believe I should, I stop, breathe and start again. Right in front of them. We apologize to them when we miss the mark. And we don't demand things of them that they are not yet capable of. We are not perfect. Not by a long shot. The longest of shots. I mean, I've got stories. But the foundation of our parenting style is that we have four equal voices living under this roof. They are not the second class. Neither are we. Their feelings and ideas count. They are as important as our own. And by enforcing that. By not always getting my way, we are teaching them to be considerate and thoughtful. At least I think that's what we are doing. And maybe my brother knew that's how I would parent? Or maybe he just assumed I'd be "good at it" because I am the greatest sister of all time?
So as I sit here thinking of all the ways we have succeeded and failed in the last three years, I am so happy. So so happy. We are bumbling through this parenting adventure with an idea of how to do it. Not a map or a fool proof plan, but some ideas. Be kind. Show love. Show respect. Use honesty and laughter liberally. Temper our human tendancy for frustration and anger with reason and understanding. It's ok to be mad. Take naps. Accept mistakes and don't dwell. Ask for help (the hardest one for me). Eat ice cream (note to self: buy coconut milk ice cream, stat!). Get dirty. Eat your vegetables. Never withhold affection as discipline. Always consider you might be wrong. And don't be a jerk when you are right.
That's our way. That's how we do it. It's not the only way or even the right way. But it's what suits us.
So, I agree, Uncle Pants. I think it's a good thing too.