You have entered Level Three of Parenthood.
Many mornings, when I am wrestling my kids into snowpants, and some of them are still in pajamas and the bus will be here in 2 minutes, and one of them is singing so loudly I can’t hear what the other one is crying about, I know for sure that I am doing it wrong.
All this is often so stressful, and for what? Who knows? We love our kids, and hug them, and read to them (too much? are we reading to them too much? are we hugging them too much? loving them too much? yelling at them in that screechy way too much?) and you hope they’ll come back to visit you but maybe they’ll turn into murderers. Or at least turn into people who need a lot of therapy to deal with all that awful hugging from their mother.
And just when I’m about to leave because I know for sure I’m doing it wrong, they throw me a bone and do something so lovely and funny that I see that there is hope.
I should clarify that this whole cycle happens roughly once every ten minutes.
So last night I walked by Eli as he was spinning in the living room, flapping his arms. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Are you dancing?”
“No!” he said. “This is level three!”
Like that made any sense.
But then later, after dinner, Henry started flapping his arms in the living room, and moving slowly back and forth. “Level one!” he shouted, and the other three kids started running past him, trying not to get smacked.
Then Eli started spinning, arms out, while the other three ran past him. “Level two!” Henry got smacked. “I still have two lives left!” he said.
They had made their own living video game. Zuzu got 100 extra lives, because she threw a fit. Ramona ended up winning, because she’s so little that she can run under everyone’s flapping arms. And I know none of these things are directly resume builders, exactly, but it felt like we were doing ok, as parents, or at least as people creators, that they had made up this hilarious game.
And then later Henry was typing something, and when I asked what he was typing, he yelled, “It’s a secret!” and threw his torso over the typewriter. And maybe this is a violation of his privacy, but when he does that, I think, “Ok, I’ll just read it when you go to school.” Also, if it were that big of a secret, he might have hidden it a little better.
Henry’s rules for understanding grownups. Besides the fact that this makes me and Dave sound like old timey folks rocking in rocking chairs on the front porch of the general store, I think we’re doing OK.