Middle Man has been the child who ruined my plans (I’m quoting a friend here who lovingly used that line at her son’s high school graduation celebration). Middle Man disrupted my plan of a peaceful, quiet home birth by entering the world with a mighty roar. All the scented candles and yoga music in the universe couldn’t soften his presence.
He’s our child who nursed ferociously and embarrassingly loudly. He’s our child who’s newborn mohawk just wouldn’t lay flat no matter how much spit and patting was performed (c’mon, you know you’ve done it!)
He’s our child who escaped his co-sleeper at five WEEKS old and was found cliff hanging off the side of the bed. And started successfully climbing out of his crib before 12 months old. He’s been found in a flooded basement, heroically trying to mop up all the water with a single WET WIPE, never once thinking it necessary to tell a grown up about the flood. He’s been heard dishing out threats to big kids at the playground in protection of Big Brother.
He recently asked a mother at the park to move her baby because he was annoying. And just the other day he told me- though still illiterate- that the sticker he was given at Ikea said, “I’m the bravest little lion and I will kill the monsters and save your life.” It said “June.”
Middle Man storms our bedroom each morning, stands a millimeter from my face and demands in a not-so-morning-voice, “Sleep with me”. And then when we get him in bed, he complains of not having enough pillows or blankets or room…as the Hubs and I straddle the sides of the bed! He refuses to wear socks with his sneakers and consequently his feet wreak to high heaven. Shirts are either too tight or too big and his shorts never fit right. Potty training took 2 weeks. Though he would pee in the toilet just fine, he refused to go number 2. All the bribery, jelly beans, discipline and deprivation in the world would not make him go. And then on day 13 I remembered who I was dealing with. This isn’t just a toddler. This is a Man Child. This is Chuck Norris trapped in a baby’s body. And he’s not happy about it.
So I told this Man Child that he could poo poo wherever he wanted; that it was his decision. And do you know what that little bugger did? Got right on the toilet and hasn’t turned back since! He also proclaimed, after his first successful number 2, “I did it! I’m so brave! I’m a big kid! I wasn’t even scared; God helped me!” Complete with excessive fist pumps.
And- true story- as I type this he’s at the sink filling up his sneakers with burning hot water and putting them on. I thought he was cleaning dishes. Oh, the mischief!
So yes, Middle Man has ruined my plans of building a reputation for having quiet, well-behaved children.
He has caused me to rethink- nay- shelve all those parenting books that I swore by and say instead, “This is unchartered territory. This is a special man-in-the-making. Far be it from me to stuff him into a box of what I think he should be.” I admit that this surrendering is not coming easily to me. There are moments, hours, days where I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to see him grow into himself. Where I enter Parental Paralysis and just stare at him, not sure what to do or say next. In the most trying moments, when he is displaying his gloriously strong will, the only diffusion I’ve found is to wrestle him. That’s right, I tackle him. Tickle him. Toss him around. His furrowed brow and pouty lips turn to full-face laughter, and my frustration (to put it mildly) fades to light-heartedness. By the end, we’re both sweaty and breathless and at peace. I realize this technique won’t last forever (nor win me any Parenting book deals), but for now, it’s keeping us going!
I’m thankful that Middle Man has ruined my plans. My plans would’ve surely cramped his style and robbed both of us of precious experiences. I had no clue how exhilarating, challenging, entertaining, and rewarding it could be to submit to God’s plan for this sweet, strong, determined child and see what unfolds. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be boring!