In the course of parenting, there are milestones your progeny reach that dramatically alter your strategies and functions as the responsible adult. I call them Game Changers.
Example: Your 23-month-old learns how to climb, rendering your hiding place on the top of fridge where you put that noisy Elmo toy and the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies useless.
Example: You tell your sweet, compliant 18-month-old to stop carrying the cat by its tail, and she defiantly squares her jaw, stomps her foot and tells you, “No!” for the first time, shattering your fantasies that your child would never act like all those other tiny tyrants you see in the shopping carts of weary mothers at Target.
Example: One day you spell out for your husband what you heard the neighbor and his wife arguing about loudly in the backyard. Then your six-year-old asks you what a whore is? Apparently they learn to read and spell in First Grade.
We had a Game Changer this weekend that dramatically shifted my universe. Except unlike so many others that up the parenting ante, this one let me cash in a few of my hard-won chips.
The first snow of the season came last Saturday. The boys were so excited when they woke up to a winter wonderland, they asked to go out to play in it before breakfast. I said yes, and started unearthing the coats and snow pants from their summer sabbatical. I turned around to begin stuffing and zipping my six-year-old into all his winter gear, but he was fully outfitted, just tugging on his last glove. Gloves, that in the past years, I spent many frustrating minutes trying to arrange fingers in properly.
For the last 10 winters, venturing out of the house meant the chaos of, “Is your foot in the boot all the way? Come on. Push your foot in! Stand still! I can’t zip your coat up when you keep wiggling. What do you mean you have to pee? You said you didn’t need to go. You can’t pee without taking everything off! I know you’re hot, but you can’t go out until I have my coat on too.” It takes about 20 minutes to dress yourself and a small child to go out into the frozen tundra.
Now, suddenly the dark, cold winter ahead didn’t seem so dreary. Relief flooded over me. I could see light at the end of the snow tunnel. My brain, confused by the lack of irritation, couldn’t quite process what was happening. It was almost as freeing as when they finally slept through the night and learned to use the bathroom.
While they played outside in the snow, I made breakfast: pancakes and hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows and candy cane stirrers to celebrate this achievement. You actually have time to do nice, Pinteresty things like that when you aren’t trying to explain why you can’t put your boots on before you put your snow pants on for the umpteenth time.
I think I might just enjoy this winter a little more than last, because the only feet I have to put boots on are my own!