April 08, 2010

Evening Thoughts

There was a time when I thought I'd be one of those parents who would never miss an opportunity to expose my children to all the new and exciting things this world has to offer. To quote that overplayed Creed song: "Welcome to this world, I'll show you everything. With eyes wide open. Repeat."

What I never really took into account was that such an all encompassing approach to parenting is basically impossible. You can't show your children EVERYTHING. Hell, I haven't even seen EVERYTHING, so how the hell can I reasonably expect to show my children EVERYTHING.

But, even more basic than that, I'm learning that children don't necessarily WANT to see EVERYTHING. I always thought I'd be able to sit down with my son and read "Green Eggs and Ham," with him paying rapt attention. That's simply not the case. NOTHING holds his rapt attention, except for those times when he's somewhat constipated and is dedicated to the serious task of trying to push a small continent worth of crap into his diaper. During such episodes, it looks like he's really thinking things through, but then the frantic grunting starts, and I realize it was all just an illusion.

Just keeping him entertained is enough of a chore by itself, and it's made all the more difficult because I never know what the hell is going to entertain him at any given time. One moment, he'll smile and laugh if I whistle, the next moment, whistling annoys him to tears. How can I even consider the possibility of showing him EVERYTHING, when I just tried showing him a new toy, and the result was startled crying. The point is, I can't show him EVERYTHING because there's a good chance he might not LIKE EVERYTHING.

Besides, just showing him SOME THINGS is monumentally exhausting. By the time I've spent four hours with the boy, I seriously need a nap. You can't show a child ANYTHING when you're unconscious with sleep.

I've basically reached the somewhat disheartening conclusion that each day is just an improvisational act, and tomorrow's show will only resemble today's show in a precious few details. For some reason, I thought, as a parent, I'd have more control, when in fact I have none at all. It's all just an elaborate and perpetually improvised balancing act to get through to the next day. And I have no idea what life lessons, if any, the boy will process as he sleeps at night.

On a perhaps unrelated note, I managed to hang the final few pieces of sheetrock in the basement tonight. And, as Navin R. Johnson once declared, upon seeing his name in the phone book: "Things are going to start happening to me now!" Next week, the sheetrock finishing guy is coming in, since I decided that mudding and taping sheetrock is a job best left to the professionals. Also next week, a carpenter is coming in to install all the doors; once the sheetrock is done, and we've completed all the painting, the carpenter will return to install the floor molding. Once that's complete, the carpet arrives and will require installation by an appropriate professional. In other words, much money will leave my possession in the coming weeks. Just doing my part to help improve this damaged economy of ours'.

I stood in the basement tonight, and it occurred to me that the boy will likely have no recollection of what the basement looked like for the first months of his life; all the sheetrock pieces, all the dust, all the tools, the buckets of joint compound -- that will all have been mentally processed, I'm sure, but ultimately forgotten. What he'll remember, what he'll grow up in, is the finished basement; the carpet he'll learn to walk on, the walls he'll learn to draw on, the whole basement world that he'll just remember as always having been finished.

That ungrateful little bastard. . .

Posted by Ryan at April 8, 2010 10:52 PM | TrackBack
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