Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Big Lessons.

Posted on | October 4, 2018 | 5 Comments

The problem with parenting is that you never really know anything until you’ve lived through it.  Sure, you can read parenting books and you can ask other parents, but until you’re actually trying to convince a living, breathing 2 year to put his poop in the potty you don’t really know, well,…you don’t know sh*t.

That’s why raising the first child is less like parenting and more like a partnership.  A partnership in one of those random, crazy start up companies that you invested in because it seemed like a good idea, the guy was cute, and you had a little bit of money laying around.  What could go wrong?  And the next thing you know, you are sitting in a nursery that cost thousands of dollars in renovations, going on your 17th sleepless night, and it’s just you and your firstborn, weeping hysterically.  Both of you weeping hysterically.  No one’s in charge on those nights.  There is no parenting.

Oh, there were with sleepless nights with the rest of ’em.  But by then I had plans and tricks and strategies and coping mechanisms.  All of which I learned from Big when he was little.  That I learned with Big.  And that’s how it played out for the rest of his childhood–from the right preschool to the easiest road test examiner at the DMV.  I researched all the options, gathered reviews, and then thrust Big out there.  If it didn’t go well then he had an interesting story for his memoirs and his siblings had better odds at getting it right the next time around.

But he wasn’t just the trial-and-error kid.  As his siblings arrived he was also in charge of bringing me diapers or handing me bottles, pushing strollers, and getting the Wiggles started on the DVD player.  Which morphed into kicking siblings out of the shower before they used up all the hot water,  making a frozen pizza for everybody, or even picking a kid up from school or sports practice.  We were less like parent and child for a lot years than we were like those ice cutter ships hurrying to rescue a stranded whale—-2 steel blades fiercely churning up ice, side by side, to get to the site of the emergency and clear a path for those coming up behind us.  Just like those ice cutters we usually managed to rescue one whale just to find out another whale died the week before a couple miles away because no one happened to catch that one’s plight on camera.  Which all makes whale rescuing, as well as being the firstborn, seem like a lot of work for not a lot of return.

But wait!  Scientists have found that as adults, older siblings are more successful, less neurotic, and even smarter than their younger counterparts. On the issue of the eldests’ higher IQ scores, one researcher even stated: “Every time you add a child, you’re diluting the intellectual environment of everyone in the family,”  Which explains why Big and I used to cuddle up on the couch to watch nature shows on PBS and last week Little and I watched Deadpool 2 together.  Eh.

Of course, parental attention plays a role in there somewhere.  Big may not remember those 22 months when it was just me and him against the world.  But at least I never forgot Big the way I left Middle at home last week after telling him that I would take him with me to the soccer game.  It wasn’t until I was setting up the concessions stand that I realized Middle must still be up in his room waiting for me to tell him when we were leaving.  At that game, Little scored all 3 goals and his coach asked for some photos of him playing soccer to put in the school bulletin.  When I checked my family photos I discovered the last photos I took of Little playing soccer were when he was around 6 or 7 years old.  He’s in 8th grade now.  Eh.  Even the best ice cutters can’t save all the whales all the time, people.

Big’s days of co-parenting have finally come to a close, though.  Last week he packed up and moved out, leaving behind peeling astronaut wallpaper, a rickety bookshelf, and enough holes in the walls to require a 5 gallon can of spackle.  He’s not getting his security deposit back.

He graduated from high school in the spring and finished his Associates of Applied Science in Welding this summer.  He’s going to school full time for degrees in Computer Numerical Controlled Machining and Mechatronics while also welding at a custom metalworks shop 3 days a week.  I don’t really understand anything a lot of what he does, but I know he has found his passion.  And it pays!  It pays for his school and his rent and he just turned 19 years old, is supporting himself, living on his own, and loving what he does every day.

I think I am supposed to be sad.  Or wistful.  Or baffled at how fast kids grow up.  But I don’t have time for any of those things because I am just so excited for him.  Yes, I remember bringing home baby Big on that fall day many years ago.  I remember all our years of ice-cutting together (I even have pictures of most of them.  Well, apparently, more of them than I have for Little.).  I also remember when I first moved away from home and how it was the beginning of amazing things.  There isn’t anything to be sad about.  Except, maybe, for how long it is going to take to repair and repaint that room.

Congratulations, Big, on all your accomplishments.  Can’t wait to see what’s next.




5 Responses to “Big Lessons.”

  1. Kim
    October 5th, 2018 @ 3:24 am

    Love this!!❤❤

  2. Andy
    October 5th, 2018 @ 4:52 am

    Did you mean ice BREAKERS?

  3. Cheryl
    October 5th, 2018 @ 7:20 am

    What an impressive kid – and still being a trailblazer for his siblings. Heck, he’s a great example for a whole lot of his peers, too.

  4. Ellen
    October 5th, 2018 @ 10:24 am

    Congratulations. To both of you!

  5. admin
    October 5th, 2018 @ 1:25 pm

    No, ice breakers are for meeting new people 🙂

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