I really didn’t mean to laugh. It’s nothing personal. It is just that what you said is very silly. Actually, silly may not be the right word. Ridiculous is a better word. Yes, ridiculous is more like it.
The birthday party was coming to an end and the room was in complete and utter chaos. There were two children fighting over who got the last lollipop from the piñata. They both wanted it really bad. Another kid was running around the house naked and screaming that someone stole her pants. Four others were just having meltdowns. I am not completely sure what their particular issue was, but the wheels had clearly fallen off. The birthday girl was done and showed it by her refusal to get off the dining room table. Her poor mom needed wine. Stat.
Amongst this sea of hysterical children sat my own two beauties. They did not utter a word as they awaited the goody bag; God forbid they rocked the boat at a time like this.
We've spoken about this topic before. You wanted to know how I did it. How did I get them to sit so nicely? Have I noticed how well they share with others? I never have any words. I don’t because I can’t even force an answer.
Instead, I think that it is time to divulge the secret: my kids are no angels. I repeat, my kids are no angels! In fact, if they'd been in the comfort of their own home, I'm sure they'd have been just as bad, if not worse.
Almost five years ago, my husband and I knew the party was over when we brought our baby boy home. Suffice it to say, big sister did not take to him well. She was heartbroken when she realized we weren’t bringing him back to the hospital. She was now stuck with him. It was around this time that I noticed our daughter developing a jealousy streak. She wasn’t the only game in town anymore. She enjoyed poking her brother when, God forbid, he cried too loud.
Previously, our Julia was an angel. She was the type of kid whom strangers would compliment in restaurants. She was that good. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and she changed.
Our poor baby boy was being victimized. He loved his sister from the get-go. Julia, on the other hand, wanted no part of him. Thus began a sibling rivalry of sorts. Even today, the excitement of starting a new game together sustains them for about two minutes. It is just not that fun after that.
At the time, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment. Screaming, kicking, and hitting were commonplace. I cringed when I wondered what our neighbors thought.
Amazingly, when confronted with adults that were neither me nor my husband, their behavior shifted a bit. And by “a bit,” I mean a lot. They would immediately take on the persona that you witnessed at the birthday party. They were angels and would barely utter a word. It became very evident that they were complete phonies.
Were they just trying to impress others? Maybe even a bit fearful? I think it was a combination of both. My husband and I came to the conclusion that they respected everybody in the world but us. It was a sad, but true, fact.
Did this mean that we sucked at the whole parenting thing? Were we failures as humans? After long and careful consideration, I realized that wasn’t the case. They were just kids, very smart kids. I know I'm not alone. I have a couple of friends with children similar to mine. Like you, I wondered how they did it.
“We like to call him Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” my friend laughed when I mentioned how sweet her son was. “Oh, and don’t let my baby girl fool you either. The kid is a terror,” she added.
At the time, I refused to believe my friend and I couldn’t stop staring at the cuteness. Her older son was giving his little sister the sweetest and most gentle kisses on her forehead.
It was then that I had an epiphany. Could it be that my friend and I are part of this little secret society? A society where kids have everyone fooled by their angelic (and fake) behavior? Could the same kids who misbehaved in public be great at home? How about the ones who ate well only at residences other than their own? How about school? Were there kids that only misbehaved in a classroom setting? Could it be? Was I really just living in a fool’s paradise? Like all things parenting, it's very easy to assume. Unfair judgments are way too common. Was it possible that there was more to every family’s story?
As my children are getting older, I can only guess that certain behaviors will come to an end. I am just winging it, for the most part. I am also trying desperately to enjoy it. I am fully aware that no stage lasts forever.
Just recently, my son fell down some stairs. Quite shaken, my daughter became hysterical.
“I want him to be okay. I just love him so much,” she said.
He was thankfully okay, and they hugged. In that moment, I saw the love they had for one another.
I relished it – at least for a few moments. I envisioned the future ahead and saw similar scenarios repeating. I saw days that were full of fights. Others full of love. Most of all, I saw the bond that they have.
It's a bond that they will hopefully have forever. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful for both my kids.
Oh yeah, and for wine too.