I don’t think anyone is ever quite ready to become a parent. We try, read all the books, game out the scenarios of what we’d do when confronted with a certain situation. But when it comes down to it, you need two things: a sense of discipline, and a sense of humor. I’m going to tell you the story of how those two go together.
When my youngest daughter was about two years old, I was running a business from home, so I would spend time in the office while they were napping or playing, with the door open so I could hear the kids. It really is true what they say, silence is golden, until you’re talking about puppies or toddlers. The girls were in the living room, with the television on, but still making a little noise, so I kept working with a half an ear on them. I gradually became aware that it was suspiciously quiet out there, so I got up and went to the office door.
Only then did I hear the little one, murmuring to herself in the kitchen. There was a noise, like something hitting the floor. Slowly, I moved around the corner, and she didn’t hear me coming. The refrigerator door was wide open, and on the floor sat my daughter, surrounded by eggshells and most of a carton of eggs… carefully broken onto the floor. She had a bowl, too, but there were no eggs in it.
She looked up at me, and her eyes got huge. She jumped to her feet, poised to run into her room. She knew she was in trouble. But when she tried to run, she learned her second important lesson for the day. The first was that breaking eggs will get you in trouble. The second is that eggs are slippery. I swear to you, the cartoon characters who run with their legs in a blur? That was my little girl. She couldn’t get traction, so she just ran in place for a long moment before she made her break.
I didn’t chase after her. I was leaning against the refrigerator laughing so hard I almost fell on the floor in the eggs myself. We made a new house rule that day. If you make a parent laugh so hard they can’t stand up, you get a pass. You couldn’t try to do this, because that didn’t work, but once in a while it would happen, and anger would disappear in helpless giggles.
Something else about being a parent, beyond the humor and the discipline, you learn. You learn that a toddler can to a mean impression of the coyote about to go over a cliff, that eggs are slippery, and that anger isn’t always the right response.
I’m giving a speech today in class, and this is the gist of it – I’m not memorizing it, so I’m sure the actual delivery will change up, but right now it’s running at 2 minutes which is the ideal length. And I thought I’d share the story with you all here. To this day, I wish I’d had a camera in my hand right at that moment…