I was reading an article by a father of three young boys, a man who was trying to shunt conventional wisdom with the excuse of he was tired. He said he wanted to hurt people who told him to enjoy the time he has when his kids are young, because those times will be gone before he knows it.
He didn't like hearing it because 1) he already knows it, and 2) it's not going to help the now, when the now is hell and, like I've said, he says he's pretty tired.
I'm not a fan of his point of view, but perhaps I'll excuse his lack of rational thought because of his acclaimed fatigue and all.
From my perspective, I don't think any parent of young children "knows it" until it's much later than they want it to be and the time is, of course, gone. And if they do know it, they didn't realize it without the help of others who have gone before them.
Do I need a reminder from a silver-haired friend that I should cherish each moment with my kids when they're torturing me and causing me to consider running away, screaming? Yes. Do I want to hear it at that moment of desperation? Um, no. I'd rather you hold his feet while I pull on his arms to create an impromptu rack in the middle of P.F. Chang's because he tried to light his chopsticks on fire.
It's a need versus want scenario. I believe that tired writer should reflect on the difference.
Instead, he flat out said that no one should ever offer the "enjoy every moment" comment to a frazzled parent. It's true that it doesn't help solve the craziness of the now -- especially if my children are involved. For example, if a concerned older person stopped to remind me that I should enjoy every moment before I wig out and bear my teeth at my sons' disobedience, the boys would gladly accept the distraction to see how far they could snake up the construction shelving at Home Depot. Then, they'd hide and not come out until I cried. So no, I don't enjoy those times.
But, I'll be the first to tell you that parents do need it, even if the revelation of the need comes later down the line. If we give our older generations the respect they're due, and stand behind the fairly obvious fact that the lot of them managed to raise an entire generation without the world as we know it imploding, then maybe we can appreciate the concept sooner rather than later.
I had one of those appreciative moments the other day. In the expanse of 10 minutes, the following happened:
I batted away plastic dinosaurs in the shower to reach my shampoo; I almost got tetanus from stepping on a rusted Hot Wheel (also placed in the shower, I mean, why not?); my clothes had been knocked over and crumpled by an impromptu pillow fight; I sat on the couch and got speared by a Nerf gun; someone left the milk out; someone left the back door open; someone is trying to hold his brother's head near the litter box; I was growled at by a wannabe vampire; the growl had more spit than noise. And then, I smiled. Well, halfsies.
But only because someone had reminded me to enjoy every moment.
There won't always be spitty vampire boys in my face, and one of these days my sons won't bring T-Rexes into the shower with them. That means they'll be grown and not need me as much.
It also means that anyone who has ever told a young parent to "enjoy every moment" was right. Even if that young parent was woefully tired.
I like having hockey pucks in my purse and army men in my gas tank. I like dirty knees and yes, even whiny voices. (OK, sort of.) But, I only like them because the lack of inconvenience would only prove a lack of children.
I'm not saying I rejoice in each day of a dirty house or the busted furniture of brawling boys, I'm simply saying I see the forest for the trees. To everyone who's reminded me to enjoy every moment, thank you. To anyone in the future who sees me out in public with my children and they're doing something that makes you want to remind me forthwith, please wait until I stop frothing at the mouth. Then, by all means, remind me. I probably need it.
-- Heather Ijames is a community columnist whose work appears here every third Saturday. These are the opinions of Ijames, not necessarily The Californian. Send email to her at heatherijames@hotmail. com.