…the usual way.
And today she’s 17.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who never thought we’d make it this far. I was always a big fan of the adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I tend to run away when things get difficult. Yup, I’m a quitter from way back. I quit jobs, I quit places, I quit people, I quit eating meat, I quit smoking, I even quit drinking all forms of alcohol once for almost a year. And then I thought, “Why did I do that?” and had a glass of wine.
So, when I first figured out that I was going to be raising a child by myself, you’d think my baser instincts would have kicked in and I would have left her on someone’s doorstep, wouldn’t you?
But no. I reckon birthing must seriously mess with your hormones and your head. How else can you explain what you’ll put up with?
- You never get to sleep anymore because the kid cries every hour or so, 24 hours a day, wanting food or wanting out of a wet diaper or just wanting human contact. You have to do, like, everything for them for years.
- They can’t feed themselves for the longest time. (They don’t even come with teeth, for pete’s sake).
- They poop wherever and whenever the poop feels like sliding out and you have to clean it up.
- You can’t just send them off for a bath because they’ll drown without constant supervision.
- They can’t dress themselves until they’re around 30. Even now I keep having to remind her that it’s almost winter and that she’ll probably be cold if she leaves the house in just a t-shirt.
- You can’t go anywhere with them because they’re always wailing about something or shouting out embarrassing things or breaking stuff or doing something gross like sucking the snot out of their own noses or wetting themselves or throwing up for no apparent reason.
- And you can’t go anywhere without them because they’ll burn the house down or fall on scissors or something. And also, it’s illegal.
- Kids are bloody expensive, too. They need an entire new wardrobe at least twice a year, every year until they move out. That’s clothes, shoes, boots, coats – the works. Plus there are all those school supplies, extracurricular activities, lessons, musical instruments, skates, toys, electronics. And let’s not even discuss the cost of food. They never stop eating. Never.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point – how the hell did we make it to XUP Jr.’s 17th birthday?
Well, nature makes the little humans really, really cute so they’re difficult to just give away or otherwise dispose of. Often they look a lot like you, which makes it even freakier. And, the very helplessness that sucks the life out of you, also makes it impossible for you not to care for them. I mean, you have to be pretty heartless to turn your back on a completely defenseless little critter that needs you for absolutely everything, right?
And then, as they get older, unlike pets, kids develop some self-sufficiency. They learn to tie their shoes and read and how to aim their poop for the toilet and even, eventually, how to wipe their bums properly so that you don’t have to do a separate load of laundry just for their skiddy underpants.
- And then they get to the point where you can almost see a real person about to emerge. You can have actual intelligent conversations with them.
- You can leave them on their own for days without worrying too much (as long as you call two or three times a day just to make sure they’re still in one piece).
- If you close the door to their bedrooms, you can pretend that your house is occupied by normal, tidy adults.
- And, the really fun thing is that they’ll do almost anything for money, so for a few bucks they’ll do all the chores you don’t feel like doing anymore.
- And you find yourself liking them as people – people you’d want to spend time with even if you weren’t being forced to because of your parental obligations.
A really weird thing is that somewhere along the line you even find yourself liking yourself more and you realize it’s because of the kid. They seem to find your flaws and weaknesses and are somehow able to smooth them over or turn them into strengths. For instance:
- By trying my patience remorselessly, XUP Jr. has actually made me a more patient person.
- By demanding constant attention, she’s forced me to stop focusing so much on me and fretting about stupid self-absorbed stuff.
- By needing so damn much, she’s obliged me to stop farting around and buckle down and stick to a job and make a home.
- By depending on me for everything, all the time, she’s given me a reason to get up every morning.
- And just by being, she’s gifted me the incomparable feeling of absolute and unconditional love for another human.
Like every parent since time began, I know I messed up plenty over the years and wish I could have do-overs for more than a few things I’ve said and done. And I know she has a list of ways I’ve ruined her life which she will hold on to forever and torment me with when I’m hold and feeble. But, nevertheless, so far she’s turning into a lovely young woman. She’s happy, confident, smart, opinionated, outgoing, articulate, kind-hearted, funny, talented, interesting, engaging,has good values, etc., etc.
So, I guess overall, we’re doing okay.