Well, I became a parent today.
Wait, you might say, haven’t you been a parent for, like, eight years? And, I would say, well, sort of.
Sure, we did child-birth (okay, I was present at child birth). We’ve done sleepless nights, dirty diapers, bottles, binkies, teething and tummy-time. I have been the unwitting victim of a golden shower, worn spit-up on my shoulder like a rank insignia and planned my days around nap-time.
I survived Elmo, Baby Einstein, the Wiggles and Boo-Bah. I know what all the flavors of baby food taste like and have seen them move towards me at sneeze-velocity. I knew one change of clothes was never enough when leaving the house. I knew to always check behind us for socks when walking through the grocery store.
I have bought clothes and shoes on, what seems like, a weekly basis and known that they would like not survive the month. I’ve seen the dog ridden like a horse, slept on like a bed and fed the better part of a child’s dinner. I know the difference between the need to pee and the next chapter of ‘bathrooms of the mall.’ I have announced in crowded restaurants that if you let go of your penis, it won’t go anywhere, and then been made to swear to that fact.
We have learned to catch, ride a bike, read a book and play card games. I have mastered the art of interpreting a child’s drawing and smiling at their school concerts. I have gone from losing on purpose to becoming a graceful loser at video games.
But, today I crossed the line. Earned my stripes. Survived the crucible.
I walked the boys to school this morning. We’re still struggling to get back in to the routine, but each morning is a bit easier. Today was school picture day, so uniforms were optional. We arrived on time and said our good-byes. M gave me a kiss and ran inside. C went to do the same and that is when time slowed down and I began to have an out of body experience.
C still had some of breakfast on his cheek. I could see it, and I know that if I didn’t do something about it, it would be memorialized in our 3rd grade pictures.
I watch as my body moved in slow motion. My hand rose towards my mouth, making a fist with thumb upright. My mouth opened and my tongue headed straight for my thumb. I knew what was coming next, but was only an observer, powerless to stop it. I licked my thumb and applied the time-tested parent-spit remedy to C’s cheek.
To his credit, he didn’t flinch. The spot was removed and he was off for school. I swore I would never do it, but it happened like a reflex. I breathed a heavy sigh as parenthood slowly fitted itself finally on to my shoulders.