Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Promises, Promises

New Year's Eve Eve. I never quite know what to do with this day as it still holds a shred of the promise of the current year but also begins whispering the commitments I've made for the coming year. I quit making resolutions several years before Blue but had I not stopped then, I would surely have done so by now. Kids have a way of making you want to be a better person but by way of challenging you every second of every minute of every day.

For example, Blue started saying "whatever" to us about 2 months ago. So, imagine a 3 year old, dressed in a John Deere henley and dinosaur pajama bottoms, rolling his eyes with great exaggeration and muttering "whatever" when asked to do anything besides watch Daniel Tiger or eat chocolate chip cookies. Kind of gets your hackles up, am I right? Or it should anyway...because if he's trying this on for size at 3, imagine what will roll off that tongue without a second thought at 13. So, Dear Old Dad and I brought it all to a screeching halt immediately. I quizzed him endlessly about where he had learned such a thing. I named all of his friends (although even in doing so I couldn't imagine any of them were capable of that kind of disrespect). He simply shook his head no with each one. Eventually we settled on a punishment: time-out for every time he said it. Three years old, three minutes. Three minutes alone in a chair in the back of the house, where we seldom turn on the space heaters because time-out shouldn't be tropical temperatures and a room full of toys. Nevertheless, he continued to push us and almost always as we were walking out the door. Putting on shoes and coats, on our way to the gym/church/a meeting/a party/pretty much anywhere with a defined start time. He would cast his eyes in my direction, bow his head slightly and say it. Whatever, Mommy. Dammit. Now we are going to be 3 minutes late. But that's parenting. Consistency or die. I started building in 3 extra minutes after the 3rd time of this little game. Now we are 3 minutes early everywhere. But as they say, early is on time and on time is late. So...silver linings and all that.

About a week after Blue's attitude adjustment, I was working feverishly to get him buckled in his car seat before all of my limbs froze and dropped right off at the joint. He wasn't doing much to help the process along, something he's been doing since, literally, day 2. In frozen frustration I pleaded, "I need you to help me! Put your arm through!" And he answered with, "But I don't know how." And incredulous at this sudden lack of ability, I snorted, "Whatever!"

Oh. My. Stars.

It was me.

I just stood there for a second and looked at him, already knowing that I had rolled my eyes and dropped the W word. It sounded so much worse coming out of his tiny toddler mouth. It sounded dirty and rude, like he was off to punch a grandma in the face right after he stole a bag of Doritos from the 7-11 and mooned the manager on the way out.

So now, Whatever is banned from our house.

May I be the first to tell you that a 30-year habit is hard to break. And Neal's got 10 years on me. He's been busted more times than I can count. Although my slip-ups are legitimate, eye-rolling, huffing events. Neal is generally saying something like, "Oh you're headed to the commissary? Will you grab some breakfast stuff...yogurt, bananas...whatever." Suddenly, from the frozen tundra of our back room we hear, "DADDY!! You said whatever! You need to say sorry!"

There was a time when I thought this child would never talk. As it turns out, my fears were completely unfounded.

My only resolution for 2016 is to remove whatevereyerollhuff (and any other Ally-ism that may sound like a hooligan headed out to prowl the mall when it comes out of my toddler's mouth) from my lexicon. At least my mom will thank me. Thirty years too late.

Sorry, Mom