As human beings are individuals, it should not be a shocker that “Children are all different.” But just how different
my kids can be from normal children one another has come as a hell of a shocker to me. If we search for some measure of children’s personalities, say, within the pages of well-respected and often-recommended baby books, you might find some infants described as “challenging,” “intense,” “unusually fussy,” or (my favorite), “strong willed.” That was my first infant. And said baby books will often offer an array of suggestions for how to soothe that baby into a state of tranquility or at least submission, while its exhausted parents wait patiently for the strong-willed devil child to grow out of it. But guess what? They don’t grow out of it.
Strong-willed, fussy babies make strong-willed, stubborn toddlers. They make self-confident, strong-willed, stubborn children who don’t believe that you actually have any real authority over them and who have an incredible “prove it” attitude towards most of the things an adult tells them they cannot do. In short, they can be a nightmare to corral and an embarrassment in public and as far as I can see, the only ray of hope is far off on the horizon as I look forward to a strong-willed, self-directed, smart and self-confident 25-year-old.
But I digress.
One good measure of a child’s personality, in my book, is how many times its primary caretaker has to call Poison Control because that child has done something KNOWN TO IT to be forbidden to do. (This number, like that how-many-times-have-you-been-to-the-ER number, can double as a measure of the nervous condition of that caretaker.)
In the first six years of Sally’s life I have called Poison Control seven times just for her, but the number is really eight because my sister also had to call once while watching her. (She ate the previous year’s pretzel arms off of a craft Snowman decoration, complete with craft glue). For Boo, who is four, that call number is two. For Bitsy so far I’ve never called.
And never once, thank God, have I had to call 911 for any of my children. But apparently now they are old enough to call for themselves.
This was a great morning; this was an unusually well-rested, got-my-pot-of-coffee-made morning. As I sauntered into the kitchen to retrieve my second cup I did see Sally and Boo standing around, the one trying to Houdini her way into my locked cell phone and the other prying open a container of bubbles. My phone began to ring. As I took it away from Sally and answered it cheerfully, I was surprised to hear I was getting a call-back from the county 911 to check on the nature of my emergency, as the call just placed to them from my number had been disconnected.
I figured the nature of my emergency is a rising First Grader.
So NATURALLY, I apologized to the dispatcher, admitted that my kids had just been playing with my phone, and asked if I could put her on speaker phone so she could remind them that 911 is an emergency number and ought not to be called on a bright sunny morning from the kitchen (no, not even if I’ve run out of coffee) because it’s for REAL emergencies. Ah-ha, Mommy thought, teachable moment! I’ll show her this time! But then of course Sally, overcome with her emotion, decided to put her hands over her ears and run screaming from the room, nullifying the educational effects of this exchange and probably making my household sound just a little bit suspicious to the 911 dispatcher. Sigh. So I had to give my full name and am probably now on some sort of watchlist somewhere.
Sally insists left right and center that she did not call 911. She claims she never pressed any buttons. But I know she was trying to unlock the phone; she probably pressed the Emergency Dialer by mistake.
And guess whose lock code, which her children have been watching like hawks, happens to have started with a 9 and a 1? This dumb mommy’s.