Saturday, April 17, 2010

Silly anecdotes - with a warning label

Something I've been thinking about recently: I really do not want to be one of those parents who thinks that the universe revolves around their child, and talks to people ad nauseum about the most mundane minutia of their child's life, and expects EVERYONE to adore - or even just be mildly interested in- their offspring. I think this is a phenomena especially true with many first time parents. ( By the time the third child rolls around, it seems like most parents have mellowed out a good deal in their perspective.) I am fine with the fact that no one will ever love Aiden like Brad and I do. Okay- I know immediate family members love and may be sincerely interested in his progress, but beyond that, to the rest of the world, he's just another little kid. And that is as it should be. No one can be special to everyone. I think that's partly why the cult of celebrity is so unhealthy - it's based on unnatural specialness.

But I meander away from my point. Which is...No, I do not want to be one of those sickening people who goad you with silly anecdotes and heart-warming images into commenting on the preciousness of their tot...BUT...for those few who really WANT to hear stories about Aiden, you may continue reading. The vast majority of you are excused. This is TOTALLY optional. I am not foisting ANYTHING upon you. Void where prohibited. And really, the writing of this is largely for my own benefit, so I can remember certain scenes after time has discarded these small memories from my brain. Because it's not just a chronicle of Aiden - it's also a way for me to contemplate my own progress into motherhood. So...all that being said, here come the silly anecdotes.

We've had some gorgeous weather here in the last couple weeks. Well, gorgeous for those like me who do not suffer from pollen related allergies. Aiden and I have taken to going for walks almost every day, especially in the evenings because I think it helps him release a lot of energy and get ready for bed. So we toddle down the sidewalk to the park and back - which is probably about a half mile round trip. And we seem to have a lot of adventures along the way. Like meeting dogs the size of dust bunnies that tickle my ankles and jump up to Aiden's shoulders and scare him. It is funny that anyone could be afraid of such a tiny, harmless creature, but I guess it seems like a pretty good sized dog to him. We also met a girl who had three vibrant colored ducklings - one orange, one blue, and one green. I guess she got them for Easter; Aiden was quite charmed. Aiden greets any and all passersby, especially children, quite literally following in the footsteps of Buppa Charlie.

And then, there's the icecream truck. We've got two vans that regularly troll the neighborhood almost every day in search of children who are training in the sport of instant gratification, developing the habit of impulse buying, heedless of the economic folly in which they are engaging. These unscrupulous swindlers offer overpriced icecream products, and blare piercing, tinny Christmas tunes - and other non-Christmas music - and in spite of all these things which should prejudice me against this institution of summertime, I still thrill to the thought of buying from the icecream man. There's just something undeniably wonderful about the combination of the great outdoors, capitalism, and icecream. It overcomes all natural reason. I think it may be a holdover reaction from my childhood, where there was no icecream man because we lived in a place that just wasn't the kind of residential area that lends itself to such businesses...and so a mobile icecream service still seems like a fascinatingly novel concept to me. However, I have not indulged quite yet this season. It's April, for Pete's sake. The icecream man will be haunting our subdivision for a good five or six more months. If I give in now, Aiden will expect it every time. And so, Pandora's box remains closed for the time being.

I encountered another Pandora's box recently - at the outlet mall. Aiden and I went down to Tanger to get some summer sandals for him, and outside the shoe store there was one of those little kid rides where you put in the quarters and they jostle around, causing untold glee. It was a little fire truck, and Aiden was having a great time in it, even without the quarters. Oh foolish me - I wanted to up the ante and make it even MORE fabulous, because that's one of the great joys of parenthood- giving fun. So I stuck in the quarters...and there was great excitement...for about two minutes. I knew he probably would put up some show of resistance when it was time to go, but after the scene of wailing and martyrdom that followed, I thought it would be wise to post some sort of warning label above those little rides. Kind of like cigarette packs, except without the cancer and death part. "Use of this machine may cause short-term happiness, followed by excessive whining, general crankiness, and ruination of your shopping trip. Any thanks you may have expected for the outlay of your hard earned cash will most likely be forgotten in the flood of pleas for more money to buy more time on this machine. In short, this machine may cause you to claw your own eyeballs out."

( I have to say, he didn't really ruin the rest of the shopping trip. But he came close when he upset a small display of mini-skillets in the Harry and David store... but he made up for it by helping me choose a new pair of sunglasses later on. He dubbed them "Cute" so I bought them.)

So now you see why I'm wary of anything that has a Pandora-esque feel about it. Or maybe Pandora isn't the allusion that I want. Maybe anything that smells Trojan horsey...Anyway, I think my theoretical knowledge about parenting is giving way to experiential knowledge - and hence, I grow wiser. Hopefully.

P.S. And if you think that in the whole thing about first time parents adoring their children that I am writing about YOU, you are pretty much wrong. Oh yes, I'm fairly sure you are wrong. Do not sit on the fence of wondering whether you should be offended or not - you shouldn't be.

And P.P.S. I think I have been guilty of this very "everyone should adore my child" syndrome for a little while because I caught myself thinking, "Wow - He really IS wonderful and beautiful and special!" and then I realized that every parent thinks this about their children at one point or another. So I guess I'm sort of normal. And if you have thought this about your child, you are normal too...but only if you realize that your child's exceptionalism is probably all in your head.


Liane said...

I've been thinking about how I need to record more of those little moments, especially for the more neglected Drew and Adam, because you really do forget them. So don't apologize...people can just skip or skim if needed. It's YOUR blog!

gretchen said...

Amen, Liane!

And fabulous anecdotes, one and all. So many truths all around: the vain pursuit of happiness via materialism, and how we still try it anyway, for our children, and its inevitable failure to produce long-term happiness...

But truly, it is one of the joys of parenting to provide fun for your children. It's just more complicated than I ever dreamed it could be!

And while I'm in comment mode anyway, I think it's a God-given instinct to think your own children are "wonderful and and beautiful and special," because after all God gave them to YOU to take care of, and we need all the motivation we can to do this job. I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be if I thought my children were just like everyone else's. Or something like that...