Parenting is something that is refined over the course of time…more children equals more knowledge. By the arrival of my second child, dirt, germs, loud screaming and the finate art of child-manipulation made me wiser. Momma recognized, “Oh so you think this is new…sorry kid seen this act before – round two.” As an only child, I was somewhat naïve. I emphatically believed that if children were raised in the same household, with the same rules and the same structure then they should come out a like…it’s the same human machine! This isn’t a box of Smarties. Life taught me that I had to change my tune – you know that famous Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other.”
Chromosomes, genes, DNA or a full moon someone please explain nature vs. nurture to me. Why is one child co-operative and the other starts out charting their own white-water rafting course before they can crawl? I’m telling you I could see it in my son’s eyes, they were way too shifty. Many years after the birth of “Sunshine”, “The Boy” came along. He had big curls, pudgy cheeks, quite the charming personality and I would be remiss to exclude the phrase cute as a button. What astounded me was that “The Boy” had an excellent command of the English language. At the age of three when we spelled bad words (b*%ch), hooked on phonics kicked in and he just blurted out, “She’s a b*%ch.” Don’t judge…parents aren’t perfect.
“The Boy” was busy and intelligent. This was a bad combination for the most skilled parent. Life became stressful when at the age of six months he learned how to get from here to there. That’s about the time when I called on God every minute of the day. I needed sedatives when: the dresser fell on him; again when electricity surged from every outlet cause he found another hair pin; and a handful of pills when I discovered that the upper deck was the place where he pretended to be a fireman, jumped and played stop, drop and roll. Feel my pain? It was when we found him on the roof of the shed that I considered a toxic elixir – you know the mix of alcohol and pills the kind that leads you to rehab with Dr. Drew. A man landed on the moon but I couldn’t figure out how this kid got on the roof.
All emotional stresses aside, we taught “The Boy” to speak-up, defend himself and let us know when something was wrong. This is ah-ha moment! We were at the airport in Cancun waiting for over one hour for customs to process about 300 passengers – a room filled to capacity. “The Boy” complained that he was tired. His feet hurt, “Mommy, I want to sit down.” So we let him sit on the floor what else could we do.
Then after much squirming, wiggling, frustration and a lack of water he exclaimed his point of view to the entire room, police and customs officers. There was no warning. None of us saw this coming. I suspect all that wiggling around on the floor gave him time to think a few things through. “The Boy” stood up and screamed, “This is taking too long. I wanna go. I’m tired. I’m hungry. Let’s go!” Somewhere in between the first and second phrase the other 300 passengers, beginning with the two men standing beside us, chimed in, “Yeah the kid is right. This is taking too long.” Suddenly, it became a resounding echo. All 300 passengers started to scream in unison at the customs officals. As a family, we were terrified. But, “The Boy” was quite pleased with himself. At the age of three, he implemented a Mexican revolution.
My mother panicked. Images of a Mexican jail cell flashed in her head. But it was the haunting eyes of the customs officer that frightened me. And, then when he summoned us to front of the line…beads of sweat dripped and rolled down my trembling body. “Mam please come here,” he demanded. Nervously, we walked the gauntlet…then he stood up and announced, “Ok, we will rush everyone through sorry for the delay.” The room cheered. “Thanks kid,” the two men exclaimed! I was a proud momma. “The Boy” was busy, inquisitive and intelligent but he helped his family and a room full of strangers. Looking back, maybe the kids really were alike…they just expressed themselves differently.