ParentStrong

18 Oct

New parents are the best: devoted and vigilant and filled with worry.  From holding meetings to discuss the baby’s sneeze to examining diaper contents as if each bowel movement is an episode of Law & Order and that diaper contains all the evidence Ice T needs to crack the case wide open.  (Side note: I know it’s wrong, but Ice T is attractive in a dirty kind of way.  And being wrong just makes it right.)

New parents are exhausted.

Spouse and I are still recovering from the first few sleep deprived years and The Boy is now a teen (we will forever call him “The Boy” however, as not only are nicknames one of the few perks of parenthood, they are also mentioned in The Bible: “And God sayeth unto Ron Howard: “I calleth thee Opie and thou shall leadeth Goober!”) or something like that.  Yes, God uses the exclamation point- He knows a fine literary device when he sees one.

Then, one day, Spouse and I had an epiphany.

We were traveling on business and The Boy came along because, like most new parents, we were unwilling to let someone “unqualified” babysit him- like his grandma, for example.  Plus The Boy was eighteen months old and we didn’t want to miss a moment-they grow up so fast.  Oh, they don’t move out in a hurry, mind you, but they do seem to eat lots of food and need bigger clothes on occasion.    

By the time Spouse and I boarded the plane we were tired.  Tired of answering endless questions- “The floor?  In the airport?  I think it’s terrazzo.  The ceiling?  In the airport?  It’s, uh, … it’s airport ceiling; go ask your father.”  We were tired of wiping down hands and faces and surfaces while keeping one eye on our luggage and using the other to find, pick up and discard random food from the floor before The Boy ate it- like pretzel rods, for example.  NOW we had to keep him occupied during the four-hour flight.  

If only there was a way to keep The Boy entertained, dry and safe from kidnappers while getting the rest we needed. 

DING!  The captain turned off the seat belt light and I remember unlatching The Boy’s seatbelt.  

I woke up to an entire planeload of passengers giving me the stink eye.  Sun Chips were strewn everywhere.  That I awoke, however, indicates that I had previously been sleeping.  Spouse too.  And The Boy was happy and warm and sprinkled with just the right amount of tiredness to allow us to pick him up and whisk him through baggage claim, tantrum-free.  Oh!  The high fives we exchanged.

Eventually, The Boy got older and wandering up and down tiny aisles and/or kicking the seat in front of him became boring, so Spouse and I needed a new method of safekeeping/resting/slacking.

Also the cost was killing us.

When The Boy turned six, Spouse and I discovered that there was always someone participating in a nearby 5/10K race who knew (and would tend to) our child.  Plus those courses were so well delineated and supervised, it was virtually impossible for a child to go missing.

Which is how Spouse and I came to enter all the races we could find and were perfectly happy to finish dead last in every one. 

We strolled (often for hours) and held hands, talked, laughed and threw cups of water on the ground while The Boy wandered around the finish line eating orange slices, bagel halves, granola bars and yogurt while also throwing cups of water on the ground with no one to stop him.  And we all got matching t-shirts.

Now that The Boy is old enough to stay home alone, Spouse is considering entering a race and tracking his time.  For real. 

As for me, I’ll be home watching Law & Order.  Someone’s got to represent the dark side of ParentStrong and I am dedicated to this family enough to do it.

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