by Jen Rouse
The Short Years
I have a question for you fellow parents.
Do you ever walk around your house and suddenly find yourself thinking, “Whoa. That is weird?”
It’s as if you’re seeing your own home through someone else’s eyes. Because you’re normally just living with it, day by day, and you see this weirdness so often that it becomes familiar to you, so familiar you can’t even see it anymore. But then sometimes I happen to walk around and actually take notice, and all the super-strange things about my house suddenly stand out to me. It’s a sudden revelation, a brief glimpse into just what an odd, odd place the world of a child is.
Because I have to say, I do not think that seeing this when you peer behind the shower curtain is normal:
That’s right. It’s a dozen naked bodies, all smashed together into awkward and inappropriate positions, crammed into a bag, dangling there in the tub. That’s creepy, right? (What can I say? My kids like to play with Barbies in the bathtub. I was tired of stepping on Barbies every time I took a shower. The solution? Putting them all in a mesh bag to drip-dry in between baths. And what do you get? Something that looks like Ken and Barbie had a party that went way, way too far.)
How about this?
Beth saw this lunchbox and loved it. She’s really into owls, right now, of all things. And since I always appreciate the chance to buy my kids something that is not pink, not sparkly, and not plastered with licensed characters, I happily purchased it for her and have it awaiting the school year there on the kitchen counter.
But now…it’s starting to get to me. Those eyes! Those eyes! Every time I walk into the kitchen. They follow me wherever I go. And if I happen to walk into the kitchen at night and glimpse those big staring things in the moonlight…
Today I shoved the owl lunchbox way back behind all the other lunch boxes so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.
So here we have Daddy, with arms wide open and a big happy smile.
And here we have me, standing sadly off to the side. I have no arms. I have no smile, nor even any lips with which to attempt one. All I can do is gaze forlornly at…what is it? One red shoe? Why am I so sad about this shoe? Why don’t I have any feet? Please tell me what is going on in this picture!
Kids say weird stuff too. Pretty much all the time. Yesterday I overheard them playing pretend in the backyard. Evie, in character as “Mommy,” gathered her sisters around her. “Children, listen!” she told them. “I have good news and bad news! The good news is, we all get to go on vacation and stay in a cabin.”
“Yay!” her sisters cheered, being good little imaginary children.
“The bad news…”
Evie paused, clearly figuring this out as she was going along. “The bad news…” We all waited.
“The bad news…the bad news is, that once a year, the entire house collapses.”
The response to this was stunned silence from her sister-audience, and not-so-silent laughter from me in the kitchen. It’s generally considered more than a little bit of bad news if your vacation rental has the potential–no, not just the potential, but the known likelihood–of collapsing around you.
Anyone want to go on a vacation with Evie? It’ll be exciting, that’s for sure.