If you’re a mom, you blink at your own peril
Ican’t claim to be a parenting expert but I do have a few hard and fast rules that I try my best to live by.
Here’s an important one that I keep forgetting and then being forcibly reminded of: Don’t blink.
I don’t mean, “Don’t blink, these kids grow up so fast. Before you know it, they won’t be toddlers anymore.”
And I also wasn’t trying to say, “Don’t blink — they move on to the next stage so fast and you’ll miss these moments!”
Those are both sweet sentiments. And possibly even true.
But I mean it literally.
Don’t close your eyes for a second, because if you do, you will have allowed your children ample time to carry out their nefarious schemes to let chaos reign.
I remember the time I left my two-year-old unattended in the kitchen for maybe three minutes, max. As I walked back into the kitchen, I noticed that he was near a full carton of orange juice, and I was grateful that my keen mom radar had compelled me to come back into the room just in time to avert a near disaster. But the bubble burst two hours later when my five-year-old asked for some orange juice, and I opened the carton and poured him a cup of WATER, because my two-year-old had emptied a full carton of orange juice into the sink and completely refilled it with water from the tap.
In under three minutes.
I once left that same two-year-old eating a yogurt at the kitchen table on a busy Erev Shabbos, to get something from the other room. I couldn’t have been gone for more than half a minute, and in that 30-second window of no supervision, he got up from the table and emptied his entire strawberry yogurt into a full toy box.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that only mischievous two-year-olds need constant vigilance.
There was the time my four-year-old hollered from the bathroom, “Mommy, come quickly! There’s a bug on the floor!”
I walked in to see what might have been a microscopic ant but was more likely a piece of lint.
“Hmm,” I said. “I don’t think that’s a bug, and the baby is crying in the other room. Let me go to the baby for just a second, and I’ll come right back to check out that bug.”
I was gone for maybe one minute, and returned to find my three-year-old with a full washing cup of water, launching his second aerial attack on the piece of lint, under the strategic guidance of Sergeant Four-Year-Old, who was directing all military operations from his perch on the counter.
“What in the WORLD is going on here?! Why is the entire floor flooded?!” I asked, as water sloshed over my shoes.
(Yes, I’m also guilty of sometimes asking questions I know the answers to.)
“We’re killing the bugs!” the boys chorused together. Then they enthusiastically high-fived each other on their heroic victory.
And all because I forgot the no-blinking rule.
Still, sometimes it’s just not possible. I’m only one person, with one set of eyes, and I can’t possibly maintain a constant watch on all of our children. When my husband is home, he provides additional coverage, but we’re still outnumbered.
That brings to mind the time I was feeding the baby while simultaneously encouraging my four-year-old to play more gently with his cousin, and my husband was showing appropriate enthusiasm for the three-year-old’s Slinky tricks when suddenly the two-year-old streaked through the room covered in tomato sauce. As my husband chased the two-year-old, the five-year-old came to tell me that he had “packed up all of our things into suitcases.”
He wasn’t kidding.
So many things.
Clothing. Household items. Snacks. It had all been helpfully tossed into suitcases by the one kid we had taken our eyes off for a few minutes.
Even with the best of intentions and being as attentive as we possibly could be, things happen beyond our line of vision.
I once found myself shocked at the amount of baby wipes we’d been going through. I could have sworn I’d just ordered a case of wipes the past week, but there we were, down to two packages again.
I dutifully ordered more (this is an item you really don’t want to run out of), only to walk into my boys’ room to find my three-year-old throwing full packages of wipes into the crevice between the crib and the wall, thinking no one was looking.
We were the proud new owners of a truckload of baby wipes, and that’s what we gave everyone for Chanukah that year.
Not to worry; everyone loved the wipes. Not only were they handy items to have around, they were also a great reminder that kids grow up so fast, and soon they’ll be in a totally different stage, and you’re really going to miss these moments.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 819)
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