Sit down and shut up

Sometimes I regret teaching the kids to read. Or talk.

I’m joking, of course, but it does seem that the older and smarter they become, the more difficult my life gets.

This would have been hard for me to believe when they were all in diapers and everything from breakfast to bathtime required muscle strength and my full attention. But this older and smarter thing comes with its own set of challenges.

Case in point: Last night I told Thomas to go get some scrap paper off my desk to use for his math homework. He comes walking back into the room reading out loud from the paper, “Thomas, Henry & Cate’s Christmas Gift List…”

At that moment I had a mini heart attack. In the time it took to realize he was holding an otherwise blank sheet of paper (about 3 seconds), my mind went from “Christmas is ruined!” to “Hooray, I don’t have to wrap all this stuff now!”

Some celebrity said, “We spend the entire first year of our kids’ lives teaching them to talk and walk, and then we spend the rest of their childhoods telling them to sit down and shut up.”

More examples of how my life is harder now that they know things:

  • They can tell time: So they know when I’m sending them to bed early, and I actually have to make up a real reason, and not just say “yes, it’s really 7:30, I swear.”  And saying I’ll do something in “5 minutes” only buys me 5 minutes now, and not the 30 or 40 minutes it used to.
  • They can talk: So when John and I decide we want to run an errand on a random Tuesday night, we can’t just load them all up in the car and go like we used to do. Oh, we can do it; Only now they inform us of how unfair it is that we have to leave  the house because (insert silly kid plans to build Legos or play  a game), then they talk to us the entire time in the car, or listen to us so we can’t have an adult conversation. And don’t forget that they argue, leaving us wondering why we ever left home in the first place.
  • They have feelings: Ok, so I realize that babies and toddlers have feelings, too, but their short attention span means you usually don’t have to endure any one mood for very long. Where it used to be completely appropriate for me to point out to John how bad one of the kids smelled, or how hilarious it was to watch them try something new, for some reason that doesn’t go over very well anymore.
  • And yes, they can read: So I can no longer leave my blog up on the computer screen while I step away to stir something on the stove. I can’t write private notes to the teacher and stick them in their backpack; if I want privacy, I have to email her.

And that Christmas list–the real one, where I’ve checked off the actual gifts purchased–I may have to start hiding it down my shirt.

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