Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Close Encounters of the Third Child

Let me just say that I love my littlest baby girl with my whole being.  But: oh-sweet-lord-above.

Now that I'm home all.the.freaking.time. with the kids (love them...seriously, I do.  but sometimes...*twitch* *twitch*), I'm getting to see a whole different perspective on this 'toddler' phase than when I worked full time and they spent time in daycare.  Ok, I'm 95% convinced it's because Raegan is a completely different toddler than Gavin or Brynn were.  I remember when I had Raegan, and called my mom to tell her.  She honestly didn't believe me when I said, "it's a girl!".  She, (along with practically everyone else in my family--and most of my friends) assumed I was having a boy because I was (as she put it) "so calm and relaxed during your pregnancy".  She figured if I knew I was having another girl (Randy and I were the only ones who knew) that I'd be a little more 'uppity', knowing just how *unique* (read: exhausting) Brynn is.  My response to her was that I knew there's no way there can be another Brynn.

And, in the nearly 2 years since making that statement...I can honestly say this:


In the six years I've been a mom, I've read my fair share of parenting articles, blog posts, discussion board threads, and humorous parenting confessions (as well as shared a few of my own!).  I can remember as a 'new mom', reading advice columns in parenting magazines (I wasn't as 'facebook-y' or 'bloggy' as I am nowadays!).  There were parents writing in with questions about their toddlers, asking for advice or sharing details about their little holy terrors who would climb walls, wreak absolute havoc, and leave their parents reaching out to anyonewhowouldlisten!  I couldn't offer advice based on experience, because I was raising the polar opposite of those children.  If Gavin did anything remotely close to being considered 'naughty', he would put himself into time out!  My sweet and cautious boy rarely did anything that he thought could potentially get him into trouble, let alone give anyone cause to raise a distasteful eyebrow in his direction.  Even now, he is very conscientious of what response his actions will illicit, and will (most of the time) adapt and adjust if he senses disappointment.  (Of course, boys will be boys...and he does have two little sisters to tease.)  But, overall, he's a pretty outstanding kid, one whom teachers have said they'd like to make photocopies of to fill the seats of their classrooms.  As a fellow (currently dormant) teacher, that's quite the compliment.  I think we'll keep him.

When Brynn came along, I began to realize how different two kids from the same set of parents can be.  I began to realize how different raising a daughter will be.  I began to realize how different Brynn at 12:05 p.m. and Brynn at 12:06 p.m. can be.  And, I began to realize how tripping on acid might be.  Honestly.  Love her as I may, the girl is a complete and utter spazz at times.  Her curly hair (that, ironically enough she did not have as a toddler) is just the apex of what is one of the most bubbly, bouncy, devil-may-care, hysterical, free-spirited-but-be-careful-she-turns-on-a-dime girls I've ever met.  She's been that way since early toddler-hood (when, in my opinion, kids really start to refine the key features of their little personalities), and with each passing year, she only becomes more bouncy (in hair and footstep), and more Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.  I'm currently seeking out temporary housing for her during the pre-teen/early teen years.  Hell, make it all the teenage years.  I remember my teen years.  (Godhelpmenow).

(Insert highly dramatic pause, followed by a crescendo of the theme from Halloween)

Enter Raegan.

Remember how I told my mom I was calm because I knew there couldn't be another Brynn?  I was right,  but not in the way I had intended to be.  I honestly thought that Brynn's trippy view of life could not be duplicated, that there was no way I'd be blessed with two daughters who tried my patience daily by hop-scotching through questions and statements in a completely pattern-less, asinine fashion.  And boy, was I right.

In a funny-to-some-people twist of fate, I was blessed with a third child who could not be more different than her sibling counterparts.  I mean, I know the kids are all unique.  I've figured that out in about minute 12 of being a 2-kid mom, and have been working to put together the puzzle pieces (without having the box to show the final image) ever since.

But wow.  I got a curve ball when I was expecting a slider.  "Third babies are easy", they say.  "They have no choice but to just 'go with the flow' and fit in to the groove of the family", they say.  "She'll be an easy-going kid who goes with the flow", THEY say.

To all of you 'THEYS' out there, I say this:

kiss. my. pizza-sauce-covered. a**.

Allow me to explain the whole 'sauce' thing in haiku:

Pizza for dinner
Unsuspecting mom sat down
She hides food on chairs

(go ahead...I'll let you check my work.  Trust me, it follows the 5-7-5 syllable pattern.  While I wrote it, I had a headache-inducing flashback of my classroom full of 28 young poets clapping and accentuating e-ver-y-sin-gle-syl-la-ble.  Love teaching poetry...rue the day I had to teach haiku).

There was a time in my life when having a 'saucy tush' meant something completely different, and to be honest, it was what landed me the handsome guy I call 'hubby' today.  But that's another story.  Now, my saucy posterior represents a small fraction of the *fun surprises* my almost-two year old arranges for me each day.

What is it about certain aspects of the 'big kid and mommy world' that intrigues toddlers so much that they feel compelled to partake, thus resulting in several potential outcomes:
a.) a loudly shrieked "NOOOO!", followed by an instantaneous pouty toddler lip and drippy toddler tears (which, I can proudly say, have lost their effect on me).
b.) feeling the need to physically remove oneself from the situation to either express blood-curdling frustration, or maniacal laughter at the antics just witnessed
c.) promptly locating the nearest tequila shot to down or corner to rock in (while drinking tequila).

On a daily basis, you can place a safe bet that I've responded in each of the ways listed above, multiple times, and have moved into responses that I didn't even know existed (and, at the risk of being whisked away by the nearest physch ward, I'll keep those under wraps).

While Raegan isn't breaching the level of Problem Child, she has comfortably settled into a role equatable to that of Dennis the Menace.  A sweet, lovable girl, with an indigenous curiosity, who just-so-happens to have a penchant for mischief.  Lots.of.mischief.

For a not-quite-two year old, she's literally scaled formidable elevations to attain her goal of locating every single marker within a 20-foot radius of our house.  Equaling her affiliation with markers is her interest in all things 'mommy'.  Specifically, anything I use to 'get ready' for the day.  While lip gloss has an obvious allure, mascara has now breached the top-ten list of things she likes to seek out and (attempt to) apply.  As does deodorant.  The girl could star in an advertisement for Secret, demonstrating the style she's created for applying it to her underarms.  Let's not even get into her curiosity about the tampon.

In Raegan's eyes, the kitchen is a full-service theme park, all geared toward her personally perfected art of mess-making.  Olive oil and soy sauce have each held starring roles in a toddler-sized 'slip and slide', and whole boxes of cereal are no match for tiny, nimble fingers who expertly tear open the celo-bag inside to release the contents in a monsoon of whole-grain glory.  And let's not even address how many different surfaces in the house the dish soap wand has cleaned besides my Calphalon pans. (Note to self: buy more Scotch-Brite sponge attachments)

The couches and beds are obvious trampolines, but did you know that the washer is a great place to hide mommy's glasses?  Sure, walls and doors make great surfaces for markers and crayons, but how about taking 40+ movies out of their cases all at the same time, and then trying to 'clean' them by licking all of them?  And who doesn't love messing up three entire loads of folded laundry just waiting to be put back into their respective drawers?  But, if you want to really get mommy's blood pumping, just sneak a (full)bag of shredded cheese from the counter when she's getting the pan out for the pizzas, and leave random strands of mozzarella *ALL* over the house as you take a tour of your domain while you snack on your bounty.

She's not even 2.  Already, she's perfected the 'ornery giggle and mad dash in the opposite direction', the 'hide and keep extremely quiet', and the 'deny, deny, deny' methods.  In addition, to avoid trouble, she's working on the 'daddy pout', the 'kiss-me-and-hug-me-and-cuddle-me, and the 'sawwyy, ruv yewww'.

And she's not.even.2.

Parents, friends, and, yes, even mom:  How is it that in less than 5 year's time, I've shifted from feeling sorry for the parents in the advice columns to becoming the parent in the advice column, seeking guidance (and the nearest bottle of Cuervo)?  Really, I never rubbed it in anyone's face that I never had a child experience the 'terrible twos'.  I sympathized, yet could not empathize or commiserate.  And now...well, now...there's a marker-covered toddler snoring in my bed who is on a life mission to be loved by her momma.  How can I make her understand the writing on the wall (literally) and see that I love her to the moon and back...but if she keeps this up, she might get to see what the moon is like first-hand?

*in all actuality, I'm not necessarily seeking advice.  It's not to say I don't want it/can't use it/don't need it.  I look at life with Raegan (all my kids, really...but especially Raegan), as the ticket to my personal success.  To say 'I survived Hurrican Raegan'--a name I will strongly suggest to the National Weather Service for this year's season--will give me a sense of personal pride, a slew of hysterical stories (of the likes I'll share with you), and possibly, quite possibly a stash of Valium that should carry me well into my 50's.  I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

(It'll take me well into my 70's!)

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