Monday, December 31, 2012

The Geologic Scale

Parenting is frustrating. I was not gifted with the patience gene that I see so many of my friends with. Of course, they laugh and deny they have such a thing themselves. But their kids are breathing, well-adjusted, well-educated, well-behaved, and they have often dealt with mountains of circumstances that would have me skittering back to the cave, whimpering, to hide under a mountain of old blankets with my favorite stuffed animal.

Don't get me wrong. In public my children are angels. In fact, of all of the home-schooling cliches out there, I would never have guessed the one I would meet most often would be the 180-degree opposite of what I had heard so much about. "Pardon me, do you home-school?" Yes...? "It's so obvious, because your children are well behaved, articulate, helpful, intelligent...." Whereupon I look around frantically, wondering where my children have gone to. You know, the ones that test me to destruction, refuse to do chores until I have done my psychotic Klingon kabuki, and in their adolescent glory still expect me to do something about their siblings' breathing habits. It's bothering me! Make it stop! But I guess that's one of the perquisites of parenthood: Everybody else gets to see the polished product while we're the ones who get to see nothing but endless vistas of polishing.

Sometimes I just have to lock myself in the bathroom and indulge in some deep breathing exercises (I categorically deny that this is where I keep my stash of dark chocolate and sci/fi books) and remind myself of just how far we have come since I brought the little wiggling footballs home. Of just how long it has been since I looked down on my first born and thought - You're sending me home with this fragile creature? Are you out of your mind? I don't know anything about babies! EB is now as tall as I am, and MB and LB aren't that far behind, so maybe the on the job training took.

I think about other issues that simply ceased to be issues as time went on. MB still has a daredevil streak that makes me think of adulthood in terms of if, not when, but at least we've grown out of the "If you can climb it, you can jump from it" phase, and it appears that the "It's 6 a.m. and neither parent is awake, so let's walk 13 miles to my friend's house without telling anybody, despite me not having the faintest idea of where I'm going" bit has gone away for now. They all know how to do the chores and, once the PKK has been gone through with varying degrees of intensity, do them quite well. I'm pretty sure the PKK will go the way of the dinosaurs when the Banshees are old enough, but, like Cosby, I'm also pretty certain they'll be living with somebody else when it happens.

The logic circuit is almost fully installed in EB. I cannot take credit, only advantage whenever possible. It's nice to be able to explain (according to EB, in huge, nauseating detail) what I want, what I expect, why I want it and why I think it's reasonable to expect it. I get what I want how I want it maybe 15-25 percent of the time, but five years ago that wasn't even possible. LB's logic circuit is beginning to integrate; in a year I can expect to have conversations with all of them that they'll all understand. They won't often like or agree with or even do what I'm telling them to do, but they'll understand it.

Then pfff! they'll be gone. At some point they are going to be fully mature and I am going to be sidelined, no longer central to the game. In fact, that slow inexorable geologic shift is already happening. EB wants to go to another school, private or public doesn't matter as long as it isn't here cooped up with me. And I am going to let that happen just as soon as the study habits have been stepped up to public school speed. I don't want it to happen. Wait a minute, weren't you a wiggling little newborn just last week? Where are you going? But I'll let it happen. Because as a parent I'm going to be wrapped up in the parenting until it is no longer needed, and then I'll step back. It looks like eternity from the inside, and then suddenly it's all over. Because that's life on a geologic scale.

No comments: