Raising children offers nothing but lessons in failure.
I had no idea how many times I could be wrong in a single day until I became a parent. And my highly critical child is only four.
I start making mistakes usually around the time the alarm sounds in the morning and wander sleepily into the room occupied by my night owl, bedtime-cheating daughter and try to cajole her from sleep. When I manage to rouse the little bear from her bed, it is always the WRONG side.
Of course sometimes the mistakes start well before the clock’s infernal bleating, in the middle of the night when she is awakened by some arbitrary need that I didn’t foresee before kissing her goodnight several hours beforehand.
“Mama! YOU didn’t read me the last few pages of the book we were reading!”
“But I didn’t want to wake you after you’d fallen asleep!”
I can see her lower lip quivering even in the pitch black.
When the sun finally does make its return and we start sifting through all the possibilities, I still can't seem to do anything up to her exacting standards.
The clothes I offer are always the WRONG color or the WRONG style; the breakfast I pour from the box is never enough or else it's too much, and usually the milk that sloshes around it is either inadequate or in error. When we get out door and head to the car there's always something WRONG with sequence: she wanted to drive in her father's car, or stomp in the puddles, or pick some flowers. If it's snowing she wants to make snowballs or catch flakes on her tongue. At least twice before the car stops at its first destination, she wonders if I've not gone in the WRONG direction. Of course the music I turn on while we drive is not what she was hoping for, nor are the word games we substitute for the WRONG songs ever exactly right. I never can seem to follow the rules she makes and changes.
When we get to the destination -- let's say a doctors' office, where we have an appointment -- she wonders if I've gotten the WRONG time. By the time we leave, I know I was WRONG to worry.
Eight-gazillion choices in the day, usually hers, and every one of them WRONG. The furrowed eyebrows and pointy eyes always looking at me.
"Why did you get me the pink marker? I wanted the purple one?
"I didn't want four blueberries, I wanted six.
"I always like the small pieces of watermelon ... unless I want the big one.
"I don't want to take the stairs I wanted to take the escalator.
"I do not like Green Eggs and Ham ... "
I tell you, by the time she's eaten the WRONG dinner, brushed her teeth with the WRONG flavored toothpaste and taken a shower with all the wrong toys, I'm ready to throw in the WRONG colored towel.
Even reading three WRONG books the WRONG way, one might think I'd be able to just laugh it off and call it a day.
But of course there's always just one final question at the end of every day that gives me a chance to redeem myself. Usually it has to do with kittens or goldfish or one of her toys, and usually all I have to do is name the item or tell her a story about how it came to be.
I wasn't prepared to answer how babies are made.
Sure she knows about mommies and daddies being important components and all of that. She's not really interested in the twittipation that starts the whole thing off; she's interested in just how it is a person like her could live inside a being like me.
I know since I can't ever be right, I might as well make WRONG really interesting ...
"Do you know, that when I was pregnant with you my body grew an entire organ all on its own?
"It's called a placenta.
"Can you say placenta?'"
"That's pretty good."
"What is a pla-sment-a, mama?"
It's an organ that grows with the baby to make sure it has food and oxygen and can get rid of waste that could be bad for it."
"Food? Like ice cream?"
"Well, sorta like ice cream."
"Thanks mom. That was really nice of you to do that. I guess you did something right."