An Open Letter to Parents of the World

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr
Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr

Dear Parents,

Your job is hard.  I know that you know it is hard, but I’m not sure everyone else does so I thought I’d take this opportunity to acknowledge you.

You see, as far as people without kids go, I’m pretty familiar with The Short Ones.  I was a babysitter. I was a nanny. I am an aunt.  I have no problem dishing out discipline, playing Mouse Trap or yelling back to Dora on TV when she asks me a question.  So when I agreed to stay with kids for 7 whole days while their parents took a much-needed vacation I was nervous, but I felt pretty well prepared.

But holy crap, living with kids is hard!

If it were simply about time-outs and playtime I’d be fine.  But I had no idea that my pretend parenting would make me yearn for a quiet room so badly.

Like many real parents, I picked the kids up at 5 and brought them home.

Little People: “When are we having dinner?”

Me: “Umm, maybe after I’ve taken my shoes off?”

Little People: “What’s for dinner? Can we have tomato soup? No, pizza? No, chicken? Candy, cereal, sandwiches, spaghetti, {insert list of other foods that are unrelated, yet for some reason listed in the same breath by a child uninterested in an actual response}?”

Then there’s the eating, the dishes, and the lunch packing.  There’s the child who runs in yelling “she hit me” and another running the other direction yelling “he hit me first.”  There’s talking all the time.  There’s homework that I “should have remembered” and assignments that suddenly appear at 7:30 in the morning.

Mostly, there are just things I don’t think of when planning out a day that normally just consists of me.  Take this morning, for example:

I stirred a pot of soup with my left hand while eating toast with my right.  Why?  Because one kid only eats chicken noodle soup for lunch.  I didn’t account for that time in my schedule.  Then I went out to the garage to look for an ice scraper for the car. When I returned, both kids were sitting happily on the stairs waiting for me, but hadn’t thought to put their homework or lunches in their bags until I returned.  I didn’t account for that time (and neither did they because 5 year-olds don’t get time of course). There was hair to brush and lost mittens to find.  All of it was everyday stuff that I hadn’t considered.

To be clear, the kids have been pretty delightful so far. They’ve been really well-behaved, have limited the physical violence, and have helped me out a lot.  On Sunday I got to make paper ghosts and go trick-or-treating, both of which were tons of fun. And last night I sat on the floor putting a puzzle together instead of staring at my computer, and read a book  at bedtime (okay, it was a book about a talking train, but still…)

I look forward to kids one day. But for now I know that I’m not quite ready to give up silent mornings of coffee and Twitter, and lazy evenings of TV and beer (and likely Twitter).

So to all you parents out there holding it together: I’m in awe of you.  Even pretend-parenting is a tough gig.




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