13 January 2011

Sticky Fingers

Our long national nightmare might finally be drawing to a close. The CDC appears ready to lift its quarantine from our home, as the wife and I (and the Doozer) seem to be close to recovering fully from the debilitating ailments that afflicted us these last few weeks.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming . . .

For us, a return to "normal" life means a return to a life that is really not all that normal. The transition from happily married and childless couple to full-fledged family is pretty jarring and drastic. Even two-plus years in it's something that's difficult to entirely get used to.

For me, especially.

In some ways, I am really not well-equipped for fatherhood. Sure, I do a decent job as a dad, adequately fulfilling most of the responsibilities inherent in the position: set a good example, provide for my kid, love my kid, yada yada yada. However, there is at least one major way in which I was ill-prepared for this entire operation. No matter how much you read, see, or hear about parenting and kids, until you're knee-deep in the reality of the situation, you really have no idea what you're in for. And for me, it all comes down to one simple idea:

Kids are messy.

Now, I don't mean to imply that our child is the second coming of Pig Pen from Peanuts, not at all. He is hygienic and clean, well-dressed and properly groomed. Mostly due to my wife. (Toddler fingernails grow like crazy—who knew?) But give him some food—any kind, really—and be prepared for stained clothes (yours and his), matted hair (again, yours and his), lots of sweeping and wiping, and be sure to keep a steady supply of napkins and paper towels handy.

One defining moment of new parenthood was hearing my wife proclaim to the Doozer, "Hey, keep your grubby 'brat fingers off of my Coach purse." My sentiments exactly. Or something like that.

Here's the thing. What I may have considered to be minor character deficiencies in my pre-child era, I have come to see as a collection of issues coalescing into something along the lines of a disorder now that I've become a parent.

I am a control freak.

And a neat freak. And . . . well, maybe just plain freak. Throughout our relationship my wife has chided me for my diligent adherence to rules and instructions. An accomplished improviser, comfortable with winging it in almost any situation, she routinely loses patience with me, doesn't comprehend my need to read instruction manuals and to precisely follow recipes for even the simplest of dishes.

My counterargument is always that rules, regulations, instructions, etc., exist for a reason. They are practical. And they stave off chaos.

Which is exactly what has descended upon our lives in the time since our son was born. Chaos. Disorder. Anarchy.

My preference is always for order. Organization. Things which are now in the past, impossible to attain in the land of a rampaging toddler.

(And I'm sure he's not even all that bad. There have to be worse kids out there in the world. The horror, the horror . . . )

Fatherhood has the very strong potential to make me . . . antsy. Like, all of the time. Because it's utter madness. It really is. And it's not just food messes, but toys in every room of the house. It's finding Cheerios in the sofa cushions and aimless scribbling masquerading as "coloring." It's just an excess of stuff, of clutter. It's paperback (and sometimes not) books being bent, torn, frayed, mangled (seriously, is he eating these things when we aren't looking?), it's getting drenched with soapy water during bath time, it's drops of milks on the living room rug, it's finding stuffed animals wedged inside your bed and tripping over errant toys everywhere and snow-filled boots and snot and toothpaste and worse all over your clothes.

Chaos! Anarchy!

No sense of order or organization or simple, common neatness. And I imagine it will only get worse should we have a second child. It will double the amount of chaos. As it stands, I can barely handle the current amount.

It's like the Doozer is a miniature robot programmed for the sole purpose of wreaking havoc on our existence. I want to plead with him: Please master the use of a fork! It's really not that hard. Just sit quietly and look at that book! And please, for the love of all things holy, could you follow this extremely simple storage system to keep all the toys in some semblance of order?

You're killing me. I just want zzzzzh;akhfseieuaruie;na;9209u'iwjna /weuriruw'tharh23yrwihfsd/xczvn.mcv

And get off the keyboard! I'm doing something here. We can do a Google image search for gargoyles later, ya weirdo.

Patience is an essential parenting trait. One I find to be often out of my grasp. I try. I think about giving in. About accepting. Being more Zen. Remaining calm. It's no secret that parenting is a trial by fire, a taxing ordeal. Not at all for the meek. Patience will serve you well.

Or the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol.

Oh, barkeep . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment