You Can Dress Them Up But…

This week I’d like to share an essay my sister, Pam, wrote years ago when her boys (now grown) were little. She wrote it for a composition class she was taking. 

Good thing I saved it because she didn’t. When I sent her a copy, she wasn’t impressed with it. Well, I think it rocks, but of course I’m partial. Here it is:

“Snazzy little high-topped sneakers, miniature pair of Levi’s and an attractive flannel shirt, laced with colorful suspenders. Yes, you can dress them up, but can you take them out? Children, those fiery little bundles of energy, who are lacking most social graces, and who seem to enjoy driving their parents buggy every time they’re taken to a public area. 

“As a parent, I can testify to the constant annoyance, distraction and humiliation I am overwhelmed with every time I merely wish to grocery shop or wait in line at the post office. Family outings always begin with cheerful smiles and positive attitudes, but somewhere between start and finish, I become aggravated. 

My nephews – the cutest little mischief makers ever!
“Overly excited rearing-to-go children screaming, ‘I want!’ while running wild can bring any parent to instant frustration. I’ve come to realize that excursions with children are a major test of endurance. 

“Standing in long, slow-moving lines at the bank is a real treat. Amid the quietness are the never-ending sounds of my rambunctious boys, ages two and four. All eyes are on me throughout the wait. That would be fine, if only I was the type who loves attention. Walk-in movies are really rather a joke than anything else. The kids talk through the whole movie and we all leave wondering what it was about.

“Large amusement parks are stimulating and filled with fun, until one of the little ones refuses to get off a favorite ride, resulting in a temper tantrum. After awhile, overly tired children begin to wear down overly tired parents. 

“And you’d think that parks are a relaxing and enjoyable place to picnic and stretch out on a blanket, but right when I’m convinced that parenthood is for me, my youngest is hurled off the twirling merry-go-round, landing flat on his face. At the very same moment, my oldest is blocking five bigger kids, laughingly, at the top of the tallest slide. 

“After I’ve doctored my injured one and rescued my daring one, I return to my point of solace, only to step in a pile of yucky stuff left in my path by a wandering canine. Who says parks are a getaway?

“Restaurants are the spice of life! As soon as we are seated, the kids develop an acute case of ‘ants in the pants.’ In the course of the conversation with my spouse, every other word is directed at the children, instructing them to either ‘sit still,’ ‘stop yelling,’ ‘please do not pick your nose,’ and ‘absolutely no throwing.’

“Strange how children sense their parents’ embarrassment and continue to misbehave. After finally agreeing on what each child wants to order, they balk once it’s set in front of them. Instinctively they drink more than they eat. After two interrupting trips to the rest room, I say, ‘NO MORE.’ They whine. I threaten. We all leave wishing we had stayed home and brought in McDonald’s.

“After so many years, I have wised up. I put my four-year-old in preschool two mornings a week. I constructively use that time to grocery shop and run errands. My son anticipates kindergarten next year, but not half as much as I do. It is a milestone for all of us. 

“It’s no wonder God put such an abundance of love in my heart when he elected me as a mother. Without all this love, I would be lacking in the patience and tolerance which solely gets me through my many tests of endurance.” 
My sister, Pam, and her husband, Dave.

Next week’s post will feature an essay Pam wrote years later when the boys were teenagers. 

So, do you have a parenting or grandparenting incident? If you’re not a parent, memories from your own childhood count, too! 

Warning: I might feature your story in a future post! (Names can be changed to protect the guilty.)

I’d like to thank everyone who shared a parenting story with me last week. I’m saving them and will publish some in future posts!
If you don’t want to leave a comment but would rather contact me by email, here’s my address: lynkelwoohoo at yahoo dot com.
This essay first appeared in the Highland Community News in July 1999.
This entry was posted in family, Humor, Kids, Parenting Plights and Delights and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to You Can Dress Them Up But…

  1. Old Kitty says:

    I'd seriously not have the endurance and strength of character of your sister! The one time I babysat my nephews, I was supposed to follow all these intructions their parents left me but in the end, I just let them run riot until they got so tired they fell asleep! Take carex

  2. Great essay! Thanks for sharing. I'm a new parent – my son is 3 months old, but already I am starting to understand what your sister describes. I don't have a particular story to share, but I will say that I look to the future with excitement, eager anticipation, and most profoundly, a bone rattling fear that I lack the "stuff" to do this parenting gig the way it's supposed to be done.

  3. Thanks for sharing this excellent essay. Your sis speaketh the truth! Wonderful!As you know we live on a farm, so one day I left them all in the house alone! I was only going down to the mailbox. Five minutes tops. I dilly dally in the quiet. When I got back I could not get in the front door. Or the side door. Or the back door. *sigh* I knocked. I banged. I screamed, "Let Mommy in, please!" I peeked in the window though the curtains and saw them sitting on the couch. Laughing. They were playing a joke on me. The one that feeds them. The one that went through the pain to have 'em. They would NOT let me in. I had to take a screen off a window and climb through. WaaahaaaaaaaaIt was not a pretty sight. Me climbing through a window. When I finally got in the house, there they were. Sitting on the couch. Giggling. Suffice it to say, I always slipped the house key in my pocket from then on. Happy Thanksgiving, pal. Smooch!

  4. I LOVE that! Parenting is a real ride 🙂

  5. E.R. King says:

    That is so true. Pam has included all the highs and hows of raising young children. I feel like I get after my children all day some days. It can be so disheartening. I'm glad I'm not alone!

  6. I love that essay LOL! Sooo true :0)

  7. Oh yes, I remember those days! When my twins were little one would stand on the other's back and grab all the good stuff they weren't supposed to have 🙂

  8. Old Kitty – Ha-ha! I love it. Your comment made me laugh out loud!Steven – A father who takes the time to read a post about parenting is an awesome dad. And you'll have plenty of stories to share in no time!Robyn – Thank you for sharing your hilarious story (but not funny at the time, I'm sure). I've got a couple other stories that are similar, so they'll make an amusing post for my parenting series. Thanks again!J.A. – Yes, a crazy, wild, and fun ride! An expensive ride, too!Elisabeth – Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed the essay.Sarah – Oh my! I can't imagine raising twins. Double the trouble, double the fun!

  9. I remember before my son went to preschool, every grocery trip required a small bag of potato chips as a bribe to keep him from climbing out of his seat. He was a monkey, luckily a potato chip loving monkey!

  10. Before my kids started school, I kept strict limits on the number of sweets they ate, and fast-food was a VERY occasional treat. On one such treat day, I collected the food, walked back to our table, and noticed my older daughter was chewing something that looked like gum. "What's in your mouth." "Nothing."Long story short: it was gum she'd found stuck to the bottom of the table top.

  11. Otter says:

    I have a 3 yr old daughter and shes always a challenge to keep up with. Shes not afraid of anything and it drives me crazy.

  12. Coleen – I love the "potato chip loving monkey!"Pat – You must have completely freaked! But I have to say this made me laugh out loud. Oh my gosh, that's something. I can't just imagine your face, in shock that she was chewing that disgusting piece of recycled gum! I'll hang on to this story. Thanks for sharing!Otter – Your daughter will keep you on your toes for the next 15 plus years! Hang in there and enjoy every bit of it!

  13. Oh, there are so many occasions but one of my most memorable was in the middle of Sears while I was attempting to find a new dress. My two boys, then aged 3 and 5, were running around inside the racks of clothes. I finally grabbed them by the hoods of their jackets and with one hand, held on tight while with the other hand, I browsed thru the rack. The two boys were straining at the bit to get out, practically choking themselves in the process. I got a lot of you're-a-mean-mom looks from people as they passed by but at least the boys weren't running free. 🙂

  14. Sheila – Great visuals! Yay for hooded jackets! Haha!

  15. Seeing the difference in the essays will be interesting.Fun essay. 😀

  16. Hahaha. I decided I was done when I could tell my kids to go take a shower and they did it. I love 'em when they're young, but I don't know if I'd have the energy to do all of that again…

  17. debrakristi says:

    Before I had the luxury of having both kids in school, there were plenty of times when my kid would act up during a shopping excursion and I would have to up and leave in the middle of it without the goodies I had gone there for. I wasn’t about to drag my noisy one through the store to torture all the other poor innocent shoppers. What a great thing you did saving this for your sister. I suspect she will be grateful when she is able to read the difference into the then and now.

  18. I missed the parenting ride, but I remember my brother and I were a handful to our parents. hehehe.

  19. This made me laugh.I have to say, I'm lucky. My son was good in restaurants. When my daughter came 4 years later, she was good too. If she acted up, I plucked her out of her seat and brought her outside. She couldn't return until she got quiet. She didn't like it, but she'd do it. Not that they were always perfect, but nothing too crazy stands out. If I'd had 2 kids close together, it may not have been so easy. And once I went out with someone whose child climbed over everything and made a big scene.

  20. Kara says:

    Such a timely post as my 4 year old had an unusual melt down in the grocery yesterday in front of the Trail Mix bar:) I think I'm really lucky because my three girls are amazingly good in resturants. When they were little we took them everywhere from a picnic in the park to a 4 star resturant. While our friends balked at taking their to "adult" places we went with our kids and never made it a big deal. We always got compliments wherever we went on their behavior. Now, that's not to say we didn't have melt downs, we did and do. But it's usually when my husband isn't around and I'm trying to do a million things at once:)I love the picture of your nephews, so cute!

  21. I loved this! It made me giggle many times over.

  22. Everything Pam said is true, and it is love and only love that gets us through.

  23. Talei says:

    Oh wonderful essay! You had me at 'family outings' – what a joy and yes sometimes trying. 😉 Love them really. 😉 x

  24. Helen Ginger says:

    I totally identify with your sister. My kids are grown now, but when my son was a teen he thought it would be fun to get on his skateboard, hang onto the back of a friend's car and skateboard down the hill to our house. His escapade did not have a happy ending.

  25. Sharon – The next essay is even better and funnier!Lisa – I wouldn't have the energy to do it again at my age. It took all my energy back then!Debra – I remember cutting some of my shopping trips short, too. Yes, my sis is glad I saved both essays! Lynda – Yep, you don't have to have kids to know what parents deal with. We were all kids and got into mischief, too!Theresa – Nice to hear that your strategy worked well with your daughter, and your son sounds like an angel. Sometimes when kids are closer in age, it's harder to keep 'em in line, but I think so much depends on the individual kids and also on how the parents deal with them. And that outing with your friend and her child doesn't sound like fun!

  26. Kara – I guess most parents have to deal with meltdowns at times. I guess a lot happen at the supermarket. The Trail Mix must have looked mighty scrumptious, huh?Peggy – Thanks! I'm glad it made you giggle!Julie – Yep, so true how many tough situations love can get us through!Talei – Thanks! It's so nice to see you again.Helen – Oh my, I hope he didn't suffer too much damage. *Cringe* Your son's not the only kid who's done that. Sheesh!

  27. louisebehiel says:

    I have 4 grandchildren 7, 5, 4 and 18 months. I love spending time with them. the younger 2 live close to me and they love to shop with grandma. so they think it's 'my' walmart and they know the store has the biggest playroom ever. what fun.

  28. Louise, that's so funny tht they think it's your Walmart and it's their big playroom! You're a wise grandma!

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