When you have a baby, hitting milestones is usually a fun thing — first word, first step, first time sleeping through the night (BEST ONE). But as kids get older, there are milestones to hit too, but here is a thing that nobody tells you before you become a parent: some of these milestones SUCK. We’ve recently hit some of them in our household and I’d like to discuss them in order from mildly annoying to actually terrible:
Mildly annoying: My son’s school is working with a charity to raise money to fight a particular disease. The charity is, as far as I know, quite reputable and I agree that this disease is a thing that we should fight. But, ugh, I’m finding the process of my kid raising money to be SO AWKWARD. In past years, we’ve usually just thrown the fundraising form into recycling and hoped he wouldn’t notice. There was a little bit of sadness on his part about this, mostly due to the fact that he didn’t get to “win” any of the “prizes” (read: cheap plastic crap) that kids get when they hit various fundraising levels. One year, a girl in his class won all the prizes, having raised over $1000, and he was mightly jealous. I thought about how much work that girl’s parents must have done to get her to that level and sighed wearily.
But this year he really wanted to do it and was willing to donate his own money, which seemed like a thing I want to support. I also know that it sometimes sucks to be the kid who doesn’t participate in stuff like this, especially when your friends are raking in the cheap plastic crap. So I grudgingly agreed when he wanted to go door-to-door in the neighborhood. I told him he could go to a few houses, only people we know, but then I felt weird because I know *I* would have a much easier time turning down a random child I didn’t know but would feel obligated to donate something to the child of a friend or friendly neighbor. So far he has asked a handful of people and they’ve all said yes. This is very exciting for my kid but also makes him want to go ask more and more people and I, well, I just don’t want to. I feel sort of mildly annoyed about this whole thing.
Most exhausting: Last night we had our first late night trip to the ER with the girl. She’s doing okay and there is nothing seriously wrong. But, man, the children’s ER is such a heavy experience in some ways. Everyone is kind and nice and there is clearly a lot of effort put in to making a scary experience easier for kids. But there is a weight there. You know that you are in a place where there are kids hurting or desperately ill. There was a very new baby crying — wailing, really — off and on most of the time we were there. The cries would go quiet for a while and then suddenly begin again, shrill and insistent. I couldn’t help but think about the parent holding that baby and how worried they must have been. Bringing a child to the ER also puts me in a weird head space where I don’t want there to be anything really wrong, but I also have this anxiety that nothing is wrong and the doctors will be annoyed with me for wasting their time. What if I’m ending up paying a big deductible in order to find out that my kid just needs to poop? But what if it was something and I didn’t take her in? The opportunity for guilt abounds.
Ev and I got to the hospital at 10:00 pm and left a little after 2:00am and it was 3:00am before I was asleep. I had can’t miss meetings at work today so it was a woefully short night of sleep.
Most enraging: My daughter, age 4, asked me “Am I fat, Mama?” Four years old. I only got four years before we had to have the fat conversation for the first time? RAGE.
Actually terrible: My son’s first pet, his crayfish name Cristal (the take home product of a class science project), died on Saturday night and Miles raw grief was heartbreaking. He cried for two hours and asked all sorts of questions about crayfish heaven and if Cristal would haunt his room (to be clear, this is a question he very much wanted a “yes” answer too). He was just so sad and it made the whole “having a pet that you love that will eventually die” thing just seem like an awful idea.
He, of course, wants another pet. I’m not sure my heart is ready.