There is a list of things I carry around in my head, and I may not refer to it or think of it all that often, but it is labeled, “Things I Will Never Do As A Parent Because It Bugged The Everlovin’ CRAP Out Of Me When My Parents Did It.” (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)
I don’t think this is unusual. Most parents I know have a similar list. Its biggest hallmark, of course, is that half of the items on the list are things we’ve already done, because HELLO, a lot of the stuff we hated as kids we perpetuate as parents because it’s actually the stuff that makes sense, no matter how irritating it is to be on the receiving end. Growing up and becoming the Responsible Person In Charge has a way of obliterating certain assumptions, it turns out.
Still. There’s a list. With things on it. Things I really don’t want to do because I know they are the fast track to Sucksville, both for my kids and for me as a parent. And that is why I have spent the bulk of today biting my tongue.
I keep forgetting to mention that Round 2 of Operation Miracle Drug started off so wonderfully that I was literally doing little dances in the kitchen, envisioning all of the rash-free days that lay ahead of us, now that we’d finally found the answer, but of course that didn’t last. Within about three days it became clear that Chickadee was allergic to the new medication. No, it didn’t leave her curled up in a ball of pain on the floor like the first med, but it did… give her a rash. (The medicine to cure her rash GAVE HER A RASH. Oh, irony.) So that was the end of that.
So let’s tally it up:
1) Chickadee is 13. An age of serenity and grace, if ever there was one.
2) Chickadee has been a medical guinea pig for months (years, really) on end.
3) Chickadee is still on steroids! Because…
4) … Chickadee still has a mystery skin condition!
5) Today was supposed to be Chickadee’s next-to-last orthodontist appointment.
The last time Chickie saw the orthodontist, they said we should come back for her final adjustment, and then a month after that, she would be getting her braces off. Keeping all of the above in mind, it should not have surprised me that when they revealed, today, that actually she’s only getting the TOP ones off in a month, and then the bottom ones two weeks later, that she might feel a wee bit testy.
But then it happened.
Even though she had a morning appointment, she went to school, first, because she didn’t want to miss math team. (I am pretty sure I’m not actually related to this child. Who goes to school an hour early for math every day? ON PURPOSE!) I came to get her about five minutes into first period, and then—despite not looking like the office was all that busy—her appointment dragged on and on and on. She was antsy and kept asking me what time it was, because she was eager to get back for a particular class. And then they told her she was only getting half her braces off next time, and then they popped up the schedule to make the appointment. “We only do Wednesday mornings, for debandings,” the tech said.
She gave me the date and I said, “Oh, we can’t do it then. The next week?”
Chickadee’s eyes bugged out of her head. “What? WHY??”
“Because I’ll be out of town, and Otto has to teach. I’m sorry, honey. We’ll do it the week after.”
I made the appointment, while Chickadee put her head down and started to bawl. Giant crocodile tears plopped into her lap, one after the other, and I felt bad for her for about two seconds before a giant wave of annoyance rose up and replaced any sympathy I’d had at first.
Because: In an average week, Chickadee is accommodated for three marching band rehearsals, one football game, church youth group, five early drop-offs for math team, and two pick-ups from school after other activities. I pack her lunch five days a week and her dinner a couple of nights besides. I rearrange my schedule to take her to the orthodontist, the dermatologist (which, lest we forget, is IN ATLANTA and always takes an entire day), and anywhere else she needs to go.
Because: In an average year, I turn down half-a-dozen offers for free trips that come to me because of my job (my favorite is that the Jamaica tourism people keep offering, and I love them and desperately want to go, but it just hasn’t been possible with our schedule), and pass by anywhere from four to ten conferences I’ve LOVE to attend because no matter how much I love my job, my PRIMARY job is running this family, and we’re not in a position for me to be away all that often.
Because: The conference I’m going to next month is my first work-related travel since last April.
Because: Chickadee has been boundary-testing with us quite a lot lately—as is age-appropriate—and her attitude of entitlement—also age-appropriate, I assume—drives me batty.
Because: We’re delaying her braces-removal by one lousy week.
Now. I know that a week feels like eternity when you’re 13. Especially when you’re 13 and on steroids, even. But her reaction (and subsequent refusal to pull it together after I asked why she was crying and reminded her that this couldn’t be helped, and it was only a week) made me want to rattle off all of the “because”s at her and demand a little more appreciation of the time and money that goes into her mouth, her day, her LIFE.
But I remembered the list. The list says “Thou shalt not list the things you, the parent, do for the kid as if it deserves veneration.” Because the only appropriate response from the child at that point is, “I didn’t ask to be born, you know! You shouldn’t have had kids if you didn’t want to do that stuff!”
Instead, I gripped the steering wheel a little more tightly than necessary as I drove her back to school in complete silence. When we pulled up at the front door, she leaned in to hug me and tossed out a grudging, “I’m sorry,” and was gone before I could respond.
My newly acquired sainthood won’t change anything, by the way. But feel free to worship as you see fit.