I have found there to be quite a few quintessential parenting moments in life. Some you hear about ahead of time, perhaps with a horrified expression on your face. Other times, you just hope that somewhere, someone else just went through the same thing.
I call them badges- like merit badges, except most of them involve poop. These experiences are small things that pretty much every parent endures, and we all give knowing nods when we pass each other in the parking lot.
A couple badges I wear with pride? You squeamish readers may want to... take a pass on this one. And then get a vasectomy.
Spit Up in the Mouth: At some point, that tiny bundle of joy is going to puke, and somehow it's gonna land in your mouth. It's terrible, and if it hasn't happened to you yet, just wait. It's coming.
Blowout Diaper: Pretty standard. You hear about it all the time. There are more and less convenient ways/locales in which this happens. Either way, it is surprisingly difficult to deal with.
Also, the similar Poop Finger: You're trying to wipe carefully, or just trying to get a peek to surmise the situation. It ends with feces on your finger.
The Unwanted Stroller: Perhaps this one is just me, but have you ever shown up with a baby in stroller, only to feel... like you stick out? Really bad? Complete with awkward gawks of "who brought a freaking kid to this ---wherever you may be--?" (Most recently, I rolled up into a quaint little breakfast eatery along with the triple stroller- almost knocking down each and every table in the joint)
Silence Breaker: Of course your baby is going to cry. Of course it is going to be inopportune. It may also be in an unforgivably quiet situation. (Like on a plane! On a train! In a freaking church!)
Floor-O's: It is a relative certainty that you will eventually own the little yellow Cheerios snack keeper. Let me tell you- those tiny Cheerios are going to end up on the floor- and you may even hear that special little crrrunch! below your feet.
I'm-Sorry-About-The-Mess Tip: With items such as Spaghetti and Mac & Cheese on the menu, it is like most restaurants are actively trying to give your kid the opportunity to smear mashed up pasta all over their dining room. Bonus points if Lil' Tommy gets marinara sauce on the ceiling. As our family leaves, I look back at the mess we've left and sigh. That's why we leave a good tip.
Puddle in Aisle Seven: Oftentimes the alert that a munchkin needs to use "the facilities" while in public will come after about half an hour of said munchkin silently holding it in. You get five seconds to find a bathroom, if you fail to do so, you will have some soaked panties to deal with, and an embarrassing walk to the exit.
Five Finger Discount: You may have a clean rap-sheet. That will all change once you decide to procreate. No matter how tiny, those little hands will grasp onto something while you aren't looking, and you will find a jar of vitamins (in my first case) behind the diaper. It's easily remedied if you are still in the parking lot- less so when you are at home... or cleaning out the car and happen to find a tuna-drainer under the seat.
Parking Lot Change: You'll smell it all right, but you will also be in the car. The pungent smell wafting up from the back seat. Do subject the population of your destination to this stench? Or do you change the kids' diaper in a parking lot, perhaps even in the cargo area of your SUV? (extra credit if you dispose of the soiled diaper in the trash receptacle in front of the Target- that's just classy)
Gear On The Lam: Eventually you will notice its absence. Most often it will be too late to do anything about it. Are you really going to trek back to Kohl's in search of a lost sippy cup? Or are you going to chalk it up to a casualty of war? This will happen often. Not even a binky leash can insure you will arrive home with all the items you left with. Most of the time it's small things, a pacifier, a plush toy, a board book. Sometimes, the loss is a little more painful.
Ok, I could probably come up with a million of these. The real point of this whole post is to tell you of the day I had. The day when I crossed another milestone off the list- rather belatedly.
You see, I had heard of parents leaving a cart full of groceries, hauling their egregiously behaving child home- unable to deal with the situation completely in the eye of the public. After surviving a couple years with the twins, this had yet to happen. I was determined to finish an errand which I had started come hell or highwater. Most of the time this was because we needed more diapers. There was no other options- diapers had to be procured! So the kids could throw a reasonable amount of fuss, and I would just power through it. It helped that the children were at least restrained in a stroller or shopping cart.
I was starting to get quite cocky. I was the lucky one. I would avoid this badge fo sho!
Well THAT ILLUSION came crashing down the other day as I headed out in search of a couple new outfits to accomodate my expanding waistline, (a little wisdom? Don't throw out your fat-clothes. No matter how motivated you are to keep the weight off, never cut that safety net!) I loaded up Little Man in a stroller and passed through the sliding doors into glorious air conditioning.
It had been a little stroll from the car across the parking lot, and into the store. By the time we made it past the threshold, Squirt's eyes were welling up with tears. "My foot hurt, Mama!" She winced as she pathetically hobbled along. Just the night before she had taken a jump off the little bench in her playroom and the landing had taken a hard left turn. My best guess? She had sprained her ankle.
Being a loving and caring creature, I gingerly located a stroller/purchase bin this particular store had for their bechildrened shoppers, and started pushing Little Man's stroller along with Squirt's newfound stroller. I got a couple steps, only to hear the screeching wail of Bunny. "I wanna seat, too!" She exclaimed, horrified by the blatant injustice. "Well, Mama can't push THREE strollers at one time. In fact, I need you to help push Squirt." Immediately, Bunny fell onto the floor in full tantrum mode. Yes, my FOUR YEAR OLD was throwing a temper tantrum in the entrance way of a department store. I would half expect her behavior from a child HALF her age. Four was really pushing it for this kind of spectacle.
I tried to push through this elaborate stuntery, but after just a few minutes, she had me on my knees, gripping her shoulders, begging her to stop fussing... and by all means! Push your injured sister's stroller! My cries fell on deaf ears. Deaf in the sense that with all the screaming, no one could have kept their hearing intact.
Having looked at exactly one rack of clothing, I had to abandon my search for clothing that didn't hug my midsection for dear life, testing the limits of woven cotton. I had to march one toddler, one limping preschooler, and her inconsolable shreiking mess of a sister back to the car and straight home.
Well, not straight home, I made a quick stop through the McDonald's drive thru to grab ONE and ONLY ONE happy meal in my efforts to quell any future bad public behavior. The reality that her sister would get a silly dime store toy while she ate a mere pb&j was simply too much for the cranky Bunny- she proceeded to continue her tirade on the drive home.
Oh, it was one of those days when I was ready to wave the white flag and surrender.
The lesson to you? You cannot avoid your merit badge completion. It's going to happen whether you like it or not.