Thursday, May 21, 2015

This Is What They Don't Tell You.

They don't tell you, when they tell you to pursue your dreams, that your students will look up at you like puppy dogs and ask, "Why are you leaving?" And you say that you are tired, and those stories you tell about your children staying awake too late and getting up too early and sometimes waking up in the middle of the night are all true stories. And they say, "But you're my favorite teacher!"

And you will feel sad and wish you hadn't decided to follow your bliss.

And then you will go pick up the kids, and one will fall down while he's running on the meadow, and his favorite shirt and favorite skirt will get all muddy, and you'll scoop him up (all 40 pounds) and say, "I know. It's not fun falling down."

Before the fall, you will ignore the 5-year-old girl who asks your son, every time he wears a skirt, why he is wearing a skirt. You will resist the urge to ask girls you don't know why they're wearing pants. No matter how cool you think it is that your boy loves skirts, you will feel violently, painfully protective of him, even though it doesn't seem to bother him that other kids ask him why he's wearing skirts and dresses.

After the tears stop, you'll go to your kids' favorite museum, because they've been wanting to go for two days, even though the thing they really want to climb on there will be wet and slippery and not at all fun. So you'll go back inside and do the same favorite things you've done all winter.

On the way there, you'll pull over in the same place you pull over every single Thursday, to let one child pee along the side of the road. Even though you know it will happen every single Thursday, you will find it frustrating and annoying beyond belief. Even if he's just four years old and more interested in playing and running and holding his baby doll than thinking about his bodily functions, the same functions which have consumed astonishing amounts of your energy, focus, and time since the moment of his birth. You might swear, quietly, under your breath.

Nobody tells you that parenting is a constant renegotiation and reconsideration of codes and rules that you'd never known existed. You'll sometimes tune out the children's conversation while you're driving to ponder why the dress code requires 3 and 4 and 5-year-old kids to wear shorts under their skirts, especially when shorts and a skirt and underpants are really just too many layers in the summertime.

You're going to feel like you won the lottery when the kid who never wants to pee anywhere but home agrees to go to the bathroom because he so obviously can't hold it anymore.

When the pee doesn't make a sound, it's because it is slowly soaking your kid's underpants. And the shorts under his skirt. But not the skirt. Thank god. Not the skirt. Nobody warns you that letting your kid go commando in a skirt at a children's museum produces an astonishing amount of anxiety—what rules are you breaking; who will ask you why your boy doesn't have any underpants on; and always the need to justify your choices to everyone else.

And when you finally get home, to the sanctum where anything goes, and you notice a tick on a scrotum (thank goodness we are not so strict about pants in our house), and you have to listen to an hour-long tantrum over the two-second extraction, nobody has warned you about how intense it is, to know that you have to do this unpleasant thing that every time feels like a violation of the secret covenant between you and your child: I will not hurt you. Because he doesn't understand right now that getting that tick out *is* not hurting him. That the fretting and worrying and watching for fever and rashes that starts every time we find another tick has good reason.

When the kids are finally in bed after fifty rounds of back-rubbing and leaking water cups and cries of "mommy, mommmmmmy!" you will lie in the dark with them and soak in the sound of their breathing, the touch of their toes under your body, their warm hands wrapped around your arm. You will lie there in the dark with tears streaming down your face. You will cry silently, feeling conflicted about crying over what wasn't really such a bad day, considering all the things that are awful in the world. And then you might, possibly, go write a blog post about it. In case someone else was wondering: how was your day? Consider yourselves warned.