Easy Kids

This post has been in my drafts for a while now. I never published it, because it felt too… negative. But I opened it the other day to give it a read and I realized I don’t have these kids anymore. I have, dare I say it,the easy kids I always dreamed of. Or at least easier kids. And you know what? It makes all the difference. It’s amazing how much happier I am as a parent now that many of our past struggles are, for the most part, a thing of the past. Sure my kids are still VERY selective eaters (my daughter no longer tolerates butter on her food, so there go her two favorite staples) and the intersection of what they both will eat is ridiculously narrow. Sure my kids still fight, but now their disagreements are the exception, not the rule. Now they can actually entertain each other, sometimes for significant stretches of time. The mere possibility of them playing together used to be unfathomable. Sure my son is still a threenager who makes me want to tear my hair out on occasion, but he also makes me laugh and coos when he hugs me and can be the sweetest thing. Sure mornings are still a challenge and bedtime still drags on, but neither inspires dread anymore; my daughter and I are even getting out the door early enough for me to get to work on time! 

When I wrote this post, I didn’t dare dream that one day my life would look like what it does now. Truly, we are in a very different place. And I am so, so thankful.

Below is the post that inspired this reflection. I feel comfortable posting it now that it’s no longer our reality. 

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I know that as parents we are supposed to love our kids unconditionally. And I do. I love my children, no matter what they do. I love them even when they bite me, hit me, scratch me, kick me, scream at me, spit at me, say incredibly hurtful things to me (and there have been times when that behavior constituted the majority of our interactions). I love my kids and I always will.

But most days, at least once, I wish I had “easier” kids.

I wish it so, so hard.

I don’t know. Maybe they don’t exist. You certainly don’t hear a lot of parents talk about their easy kids, but then again, maybe the ones that have them are kind enough not to rub it in the rest of our faces. Probably most kids are easy when it comes to some things, and harder when it comes to other.

{I have heard people declare their kids gifted, and brilliant. And I’ve heard a few moms say their babies were easy–I believe I said the same about my babies, because they were relatively easy. But I’ve never heard any parents call their toddlers or preschoolers easy. Perhaps no human between the ages of 1 and 5 is every really easy.}

I know my kids are not the hardest. My daughter is hard enough that I’ve skirted the communities of families with truly hard kids. I don’t know how those parents do it.

I know I could have it a lot worse. I can recognize, cognitively, how lucky I am. And I suspect that I struggle with parenting my children so much because of my own personal shortcomings, as much as my kids’ specific challenges.

But seriously, some days I just really, really, REALLY wish I had easy kids.

Kids who will eat more than ten foods (right now almost none of the foods my kids will eat overlap and it’s driving me batty), or if they only eat ten foods, at least weren’t so blood-sugar sensitive that they actually needed to eat (because I’d be perfectly okay offering something and letting them not eat it, if I knew a massive one-hour meltdown weren’t the guaranteed result of skipping dinner).

Kids who are asleep by 8:30pm, even two nights a week! Instead of awake at 10pm and up at 5:30am every day, grumpy and fussy and tired as shit for how little sleep they got.

Kids who can trace a word three times in under half an hour.

Kids who can sit at a table for five minutes without getting up, climbing on me, kicking each other, pushing each others’ chairs, licking the salt grinder, running out the room, disrobing, or yelling “POOP!” at the top of their lungs.

Kids who don’t get suspended, or kicked out of day care (we haven’t been kicked out yet, but today’s message was basically, “we’re happy to work with you, until we aren’t anymore, and then we’ll kick you out.”)

Kids who don’t overreact to EVERY SINGLE THING I SAY. Who don’t immediately lose their shit and melt into a puddle of whining, crying woe-is-me whenever the answer is anything but the ONE answer they are okay with (which is yes, you may have that thing you shouldn’t have, and you may have it right now. Oh and also, here is a bouncy house).

Kids who can get into the car without making it into a four-alarm fire.

Kids who are grateful and appreciative (okay, now I’m probably really just dreaming).

Kids who don’t drive me absolutely, batshit crazy 95% of the time.

I know, moms aren’t supposed to write posts like this. And when they do, there is supposed to be some quaint little bit at the end about how it was just a joke, hardy-har-har and isn’t motherhood grand?! Isn’t it all worth it?

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure yet. I’ll let you know in 20 years.

5 Comments

  1. I think parents who have easy kids don’t talk about it because they aren’t aware how lucky they are. They think that’s what parenting is like, so they view the harder parts and call them hard. Likewise, for years I thought everyone dealt with the same parenting challenges I did. When J was about 4 or 5, I mentioned to my boss that I still buckled him into his car seat every time we went out. She was shocked because her daughter, 6 months younger, did it herself. I explained that I deliberately didn’t teach J because I didn’t want him unbuckling himself while we were driving. She was more shocked – “tell him that’s not allowed!” She had no concept that my strategy was the only reasonable alternative to having to pull the car over constantly and telling him it’s not allowed every single time we went out.

    Or even a smaller example – I have always used all of my sick days on my kids. I take it for granted that throughout the year, one or the other of them will always have a cold, and it’ll occasionally escalate into vomiting or a fever. Just part of parenting, I thought. And J has his allergies and his asthma, and C had her NICU stay and her ICU stay this past summer (I don’t think I ever blogged about that). Everyone’s got something, right? Just part of parenting. Then a coworker recently told me that she’s never missed work for her son being sick. Never. He’s 9. Blows my mind.

    Luckily, like yours, my kids have been sweet and playing together lately, and even listening to me a little more. It does make life easier! Also makes me realize how lucky some people have it.

    1. I think you’re right that people who have easy kids don’t realize how good they have it, or they chalk it up to their superior parenting skills and assume those of us with harder kids aren’t doing as good a job.

      You have a colleague who has never missed a day of work to take care of her sick kid?! What the what?! That is where every sick day I’ve used since my daughter was born went. Sure, sometimes I’m sick, and I’ve even called in just for me, but EVERY SINGLE TIME one of my kids crashes my sick day and I end up caring for them too, even when I was originally the sick one. And my kids are relatively healthy and have never been hospitalized! I truly can’t fathom never missing a say to care of a sick kid. Her kid must be a robot or something.

      As for playing together, I have been so jealous reading the posts of people whose kids do that. Together our kids were a nightmare, so we usually just separated them and ended up parenting each on separately. I would take our son to the zoo and my husband would stay home with our daughter, etc. Now they seem to have a genuinely good time together, and my daughter is actually helpful! It’s amazing. And it warms my heart to see them interact in positive ways. It’s something I always wanted and I hope I never take it for granted. I doubt I will, when it was so elusive for the first three years.

      1. The other day, my kids were so well-behaved, playing together so nicely and being so nice to me, I actually started crying. J understood the happy tears, but C was really confused.

      2. Does this colleague have a full time nanny? If not, how it possible that this child is never sick? We actually have a nanny but I still have to miss work to take him to the doctor when he’s sick

  2. Children continue to change. Never on the parent’s timetable however. What is lovely is when you discover your children are conspiring, positively, behind your back to make your life easier and better. Yours are not old enough for that really yet; but it will happen and this is good.
    Cheers.

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