Written by Keryl DiMaggio Hayes
“I’m going to throw you in the trash!” I yell at my two-year old son as I walk in to find an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios that are spewed across my dining room floor. Not just a regular sized box by the way, it’s the industrial BJ’s box! To which my two year growls back to me in a voice that can only be described as a cross between Pee-Wee Herman and the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, “NO! I throw YOU in the trash!” And such is the start of another beautiful day of child rearing! Never in all my years did I think my mantras would become threatening my two children on a daily basis to throw them in the trash, toss them out the window, or sell them to the gypsy’s! Yet such has become my coping mechanism for the everyday adventures of being a parent! One’s such as cleaning the poop off the wall that JoJo, my son, has so creatively spackled it with or mopping up the baby powder that my 4 year old, Natalie, poured on every floor of the house so that she could practice making animal tracks!
Now I’m not saying that it is all bad all the time! And please don’t think that I really would sell them! I love my children more than anything! I’m just saying that when I dreamt of becoming a mom in the years past, my imagination could never have manifested the trials and tribulations that being responsible for the lives of two such little individuals would have presented me with. I mean, I know everyone says how hard it is and unless you are completely detached from reality you know that there are going to be challenges….we’ve all seen the movies, right? But somehow someway there was that belief that when I became a parent, I would have a handle on it, do it better than my parents, be able to balance work, family and friends, and raise my kids in a calm respectful dignified way while still being fun!
HA! Double HA! And anybody who has kids and read that last sentence is still laughing with me! I don’t know where that deluded idealistic version of my former self slithered off to but I’m pretty sure it’s retreat was made shortly after the birth of my first child and then that person was completely smacked down and buried when child number two arrived. In place of a optimistic, educated and articulate person has emerged a harried forgetful exhausted shadow of being whose every waking day is guaranteed to involve the cleaning of bodily fluids, refereeing insurmountable sibling battles and the constant feeding of insatiable appetites both literally and emotionally!
Parents often curse their children by saying, “When you grow up, I hope you have children and I hope they are just as bad as you were!” Well, all I have to say to that is, “Thanks a stinkin’ lot, Ma!” I am holding my mother personally responsible for the hurricane of sassafras that is four-year old daughter, Natalie and the tornado of mass destruction that is my two-year old son JoJo. In my recollection, I was a sweet, quiet little nerd that liked to listen to books on record and spout odd facts about Central American countries! Don’t know how I ended up with these two – unless I can transfer the blame to my husband, who is maintaining that his worst flaw was working the Eddie Haskel angle, intent on charming the ladies! Side note…he still does that!
So how do you raise children right? There’s the thoughtful “Let’s think about your actions and how you could have handled that differently, Johnny” approach. There’s the consequential “If you do that again, there will be no TV after dinner, Mary” approach. There is even the reproachful “I’m very disappointed in you right now, young lady” approach. Then there’s mine. It’s the threatening and very ineffective “Seriously? I’m going to throw you in the trash” approach!
For the record, I’ve tried all those other approaches, I’ve read the books, Scream-free Parenting and Setting Limits with Your Strong-willed Child, I’ve watched Super-Nanny and Oprah, I’ve talked to my mom, I’ve talked to other mothers, I’ve even talked to my hairdresser! I still haven’t figured it out. Let me add that, back in the day I fancied myself an intelligent person with adequate skills in relating to children. I went to Boston Latin, I got a BA in Psychology, and I worked with children in several capacities before: babysitter, camp counselor, assistant teacher, soccer coach and had younger siblings. All seemed to me sufficient experience to enable me to have my own children at an older age (I was 30 when I had my first) and still keep my wits about me. I mean, I smarter than a four- year old, right?
Wrong! Think again! I spend my days trying to outwit, out-talk and outsmart this kid and I am not winning! Once again, I am hit with the reality that my former self does not exist. You know… the one with a brain? My sister in law pointed out one day that I said “whatchamacallit” seven times in a two- minute conversation. To which I replied that I haven’t had a clear train of thought in over four years, nor have I had an uninterrupted shower or a warm dinner!
As I mentioned before, it isn’t all bad. I have to admit that my daughter, Natalie, is hands down one of the funniest people I have ever met. I was making breakfast the other morning and she asked me what I was doing. I told her I was “beating the eggs.” She replied, “Well, that’s not very nice of you!” Impeccable comedic timing for a 4 year old! And my son, JoJo, whom I lovingly dub “a devil in a Sunday hat”, can literally melt you with a look from under his mile long lashes and one of his “squeeeeezes”! It is true that they have changed me but I couldn’t imagine my world without them that would just be boring! They make my life an adventure, and I am enjoying the ride, bumps and all!
Keryl Dimaggio Hayes is a busy mother of two children who enjoys writing stories about the humor in her everyday life. She was born and raised in South Boston and currently lives in Braintree with her husband Joe.