After six years of parenthood, it’s obvious that my kids know more than I do. Why else would they argue with me all the time? Sure, they’ve existed for less than a decade, but that’s enough time to have the universe figured out. It’s also why they impart their wisdom loudly and repeatedly, whenever I instruct them on anything. “You’re going to spill that,” I told three-year-old Andy, as he carried his too-full water glass to the table. “I’m NOT,” he insisted, seconds before his cup smashed on the floor. “Don’t touch that, it’s hot!” I told six-year-old Molly, just before she singed her hand on a scalding soup bowl. “Why’d you do that? I told you it was hot!” I chided as I checked her fingers. “It didn’t look hot!” she cried. See? According to my offspring, stupid ol’ Mommy is as dumb as a rock.
The reason we warn our kids is because, as adults, we’ve been there and done that. I learned that sticking a metal fork in an electrical outlet will blast you across the room. In my defense, I was four, and I was trying to make my own light saber. But because of my experience, all the outlets in my current house have plastic safety covers on them. I don’t want my offspring to suffer as I did; my internal organs are still recovering. I know it’s tempting to try and catch a bumblebee in your bare hands, but trust me, bees don’t like that. Wanna guess how I know? This little scar on my thumb should tell you.
At this point, my warnings have turned into white noise, and my kids hardly acknowledge me. The best example of this was with Andy; last week, he figured out it’s really funny to make himself burp. To do this, he would clench his stomach and force up air. “Don’t do that,” I chided, “you’ll make yourself barf.” Guess who finally figured out that Mommy was right? My little son, straight after he upchucked yesterday’s dinner all over the floor. Trust me, there are times I don’t want to be right.
There’s a difference between “confident” and “smart-Alec”, and Molly and Andy are still figuring that out. Soon, I hope they’ll be able to listen with open hearts and minds. Until then, I’ll keep nagging them while they endanger themselves. Maybe learning the hard way makes a bigger impression; it did for me when I jumped off the toolshed roof using a garbage bag as a parachute. I learned two things that day: gravity is a force to be reckoned with, and I am not Superman. He wouldn’t have broken his ankle in three places!