Taking Deep Breaths

I have come to the realization that kids break things.

This should come as no surprise to me since I broke a great many things as a child. Actually, maybe "broke" is not the best verb to use. "Destroyed" might be better.

For example, I accidentally set stuff on fire...stuff like the living room curtains. I didn't mean to. I was merely trying to prove I was a big girl by lighting the pumpkin at Halloween.

Unfortunately, the match flew out of the tongs I was holding it with.

I quickly batted the flames out with my hands and then pulled the curtains open so no one would know. Or at least, no one would know till it was time to shut the curtains.

I ended up doing one of those, "You promise you won't get mad if I tell you something?" performances for my mother.

Believe me, she got mad.

I see the, "I wonder what will happen if I..." gleam in my three year-old's eyes and I completely understand what's happening in his brain. I've also always been too curious for my own good.

How curious?

Well, I once took a pair of pliers to the dining room table, just to see what would happen. The resulting mark on the table absolutely enraged my mother. I'm pretty sure that I successfully blamed someone else for that one though.

I used to be a compulsive paper eater. For some reason, I really liked to eat magazines. Vogue and European Travel and Life were especially delicious to me.

I never wanted to eat the old magazine that'd been sitting on the coffee table collecting dust for two months. Nope. I wanted the nice, shiny one that just came in the mail. The one that my parents hadn't really read yet. I figured, if I ate the paper from the new magazine, no one would notice that there were pages missing since you couldn't miss what you had never seen.

And the grand finale of them all? I pushed my siblings out windows. Both of them, despite the fact that they're seven and nine years older than me. (super-human strength, n'est-ce pas?)

Don't worry, I didn't push them both on the same day. I managed to space it out a little.

My brother got pushed from a second story window for ripping the leg off my precious teddy bear, Adam 12. What can I say? I was six or seven and in a haze of anger because Adam 12 had been crippled. I knew that with only one leg, his secret agent spying abilities would be severely hindered.

If my memory serves me correctly, my brother survived because of the side porch roof. I don't really remember too clearly.

My sister only got pushed from a first floor window. I'm pretty sure she hit concrete.

Oh, yeah, and eventually, Adam 12's leg got glued back on.

Yes, I know my parents must have been freaking out and wondering if that 666 was on my head instead of on that kid Damien's.

So with this kind of track record, I can't be too upset that one of my children has broken my digital camera. I am remembering that I should be detached from material things. I am taking deep breaths. I am imagining that I'm in a sensory deprivation tank. I am picturing myself floating in a pool of crystal clear water while inhaling the scent of lotus flowers.

This sort of prayerful state of mind has kept me from resorting to more old school methods of child discipline, the sort of methods that involve swatting bottoms with hands. Or shoes. Belts. Switches. Extension cords...

Instead, I have already given the, "You need to respect other people's property. You do not touch things that don't belong to you without permission" speech. It was very well received.

Neither one of them confessed.

I'm really not sure which one broke the camera. Both boys claim that they never touched it. I'm supposed to believe that digital cameras just crack all by themselves. Both also have the "I'm innocent" face down pat.

My six year-old is a particularly fast blamer thinker. "Maybe Daddy did it. You should ask him."

Hmm... I'm starting to wonder.

Indeed, my mother, like all mothers, sometimes said that my antics would come back to haunt me when I had my own kids.

Like most mothers, I think she was right.


Your mother took lessons from mine, who always said, "I hope someday you have one Just Like You." This was accompanied by eyes turned toward God, who alone knew how hard I made her life.

Maybe your camera was broken by a poltergeist. It could happen.

But you know what they say: the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so lock up the pliers and matches, and seal all the windows shut.

It doesn't surprise me that you ate magazine pages. Words are still delicious in your hands.
none said…
I used to eat the paper labels off of various items. Glad to hear I wasn't the only one.

Trying to hide lifes little mistakes was a specialty of mine but my kids just leave it in the middle of the floor and lie about it.

The digital camera is a bad one, it almost warrants the switch...almost
Anonymous said…
And people say I should have another kid. At least now I only have one to blame for broken things (and he has no targets to toss from windows).
Jocelyn said…
I'm so glad I followed Heartinsanfrancisco's blog to you here--'cause, honey? You're a hoot (as they say in the Midwest).

And, yea, a big part of parenting does seem to be reviewing our own childhoods and accepting that there is payback.
Lydia said…
Kids write on things. All over the walls, the furniture. Hardly ever on paper. I have taken deep breaths and learned for now to love original art.

I will paint the walls a darker color and make sure I am stating the choices clearly. "THIS is a GOOD thing. THIS is NOT!"

After that, Dr. Spock will have to help a sista out!
Anonymous said…
Hmm I ate hair...my own usually...I don't know what it was...I guess the texture of hair just drew me in!

As for breaking things...Hell I think i do more breaking things then my daughter...Now the 7 month old...She's destructive...I think she was the little boy I wanted but didnt' get...She has superhuman/baby strenth!

The 7 year old is just plain irresponsible! But lucky for both girls mommy is too broke to buy anything nice and if they break it, its probably old and need to be replaced anyway!
Anonymous said…
I think your husband did it!!!!
Jameil said…
lmao @ maybe daddy did it!!!!!! hilarious!!! and i'm AMAZED @ you with "I accidentally set stuff on fire"... whaaaaaaa?????? HILARIOUS!! love this post.
Jessalyn said…
Sounds like my 5 year old blaming her 2 year old brother for writing his name clearly on his bedroom wall. LOL
Odat said…
Hmmmm.....maybe some day she'll tell ya what really happened...lol.
I told my Mom about "stuff" I did and got in trouble for when I was little...she already knew about some of them and actually admitted that she thought they were pretty funny at the time but had to punish me...;-)
Liz Dwyer said…
If we still lived in our old apartment, I might think it was a poltergeist. I always felt like something was watching me or standing behind me. At this place though, the atmosphere is quite different so I think there's a human culprit. At least, I hope so!

Whew! I feel more normal now that I know I am not the only one with a history of paper consumption! Yes, the digital camera is a bad one. I especially felt it yesterday because I had a get together with some friends and couldn't take any photos.

True, but then again, if you don't have another kid then you will be the main target of all that childhood energy and curiosity. And, like Heart in San Francisco said, he could start talking about poltergeists or something. That would be sort of scary, right?

Oh I'm so glad you followed her link here. Welcome!

I definitely wonder what kinds of "adventures" are in store for me in the future with these two. I suppose it's a classic case of "what goes around comes around!"

I hear you. One of my sons befriended crayons. The other took a sharpie to the wall. Those magic eraser things worked wonders but I ended up repainting after it seemed that both had lost interest in wall art. Thank goodness they've outgrown that.

LOL! You ate hair? That's really funny! I tell myself that I'm not going to buy anything really nice furniture till my boys get a little bit older. The last thing I want is to have gotten a nice couch and then have someone leave their half-eaten popsicle on the arm rest, or accidentally drag an ink pen across a cushion. Then again, my husband does that kind of stuff too, so maybe I need to just be old school and get the plastic furniture covers! LOL!

Bwaa-haa, haa haa! Yeah, I kinda think so too. He's just been a little too nonchalant about it. But don't worry, I found a deal on Amazon. The new camera should be here by Wednesday so then I can take some pictures of your hotness when I come visit!

Yes, girl! They know that daddy regularly gets in trouble for leaving soda cans in the freezer so he's an easy target to blame. And yes, it was a TOTAL accident! I'm actually scared of fire so I was trying to be a brave big girl. Whew, I definitely got a spanking for that one.

You make me think about how I managed to forge my cousin's name onto the arm of a chair. I think I was maybe eight and I forged it perfectly. She got into a TON of trouble! I don't think she reads this blog so I don't know if she knows it was me that did it!

Yes, twenty years from now they'll say, "Remember that digital camera you had?" It'll take a minute for me to remember, and then they'll say, "Well, Daddy really did do it!"
Anonymous said…
I hate to admit it ...but I remeber after watching New Jack City I tried to cook Asprin like it was crack...I never did it again nor would I ever suggest anyone do that...the smell alone was horrible...Damn movies!
Ian Lidster said…
When we rail at our kids we have to look back at our own childhoods and cringe. It's probably best not to share. That was like the time my stepdaughter (at about age 13) asked her (ex flower child) mother if she'd ever smoked pot. I bit my lip to keep from laughing out loud, and only suggested: "Now, be honest."
velvet said…
Your six year old is pretty savvy with the Daddy comment. He wasn't that upset about the camera? Sounds kind of suspicious to me. ;)

I never pushed my brother out of a window. Perhaps it would have helped.
Liz Dwyer said…
Gotta love that New Jack City for inspiration. I'm almost tempted to go burn up some aspirin just so I can see what it smells like. I'm always waay too curious!

Yes, I can imagine that if, in our youth, we kept in mind the questions our children might ask us, we would all live differently. I've never smoked pot though, so at least I don't have to worry about that one!

Yes, he's too grown-up for his own good. I think Daddy did it too. My boys are always so honest that the more I think about it, the more I can't see them lying about breaking my camera. My new one came today and I'm happy to have it again. I was missing taking photos of them.
Ehav Ever said…
This reminds me of how Bill Cosby said that his mother put a curse on him when he was a boy. She said, I hope you have some children that act just like you. That is when he stated that his kids had brain damage, just like he did when he was a kid.

In any case the things you mentioned were really funny. I unfortunately when I was young was an only child. So when something broke, there was no one else to blame. I remember once me and my cousin were having a pillow fight, and we broke my aunts precious china and the stand it was on. The only thing I could think to do was to go to sleep and hope I would wake up somewhere else. Needless to say several hours later I woke up to my aunt telling me get my bottom out of that bed.

There was also the time that I disregarded to take the trash off of the front stoop of our house. I thought that the trash men would be nice enough to walk up to the stoop, past the drive way to get it. I came home from school to find that trash men don't do that kind of extra work. So I tried to hide the trash in the backyard behind a brick wall outcropping. And I would have gotten away with it to if some neighborhood dog wouldn't have gotten in the backyard and torn up the trash all over the yard.

Now I wonder what will happen when I have kids.
West said…
I have decided that kids are here for two purposes:

1) To break things


2) To take out the garbage.
Anonymous said…
Wow. When I think back to things I destroyed as a child, it generally makes me want to be too soft--first, with my own children, and now, as a grandmom, it often reaches the point of ridiculousness (Something very strange happens when you reach grandparenthood. Of the four thousand rules you had for your own childen--most of them so that you could feel more secure and set boundaries for yourself in an unknown territory--you decide that maybe 20 at most are really important.) But back to remembering: Mostly, I remember the things I destroyed were out of a sense of curiosity: ("How does this work?" "I wonder what would happen if...?"). I think this is typical. My sister in law loves to cook, and from the time they were about three, would always let my twin niece and nephew help, really help, in the kitchen. When he was five, one day my nephew, a mild-mannered little boy, looked at his mother very earnestly and said: "When I watch the food in the blender going round and round, I really, really want to stick my hand in" Fortunately, he was kind of timid. Then there's not paying attention. As a child, I'd be sitting at the dinner table thinking all sorts of interesting thoughts, when all of a sudden, all by itself, my hand would knock over a glass of water (not so good), or milk or juice (worse, depending on the stain it would leave and whether there was "company" and a nice table cloth on the table.) I noticed that in almost all cases, the reaction of adults, and what kind of punishment I received, had not much to do with my intentions, but was always about how much damage I'd done.
So I decided at some point that when I became an adult I would focus my punishments, if any, on the intention of the child, and not on the material result.
I must say it's stood me in good stead. Even when the intention of the child is actually to "wreak havoc" (read: get some attention), I can get to the root of the problem, even while giving a consequence, (yes, a punishment).
But then, I am one who loves recapturing childhood experience through interacting with kids. (even though they can drive you crazy at times, and reduce you to the level of an unreasonable 4 year old)
Moms and dads, take heart! And realize you are doing a sacred, heroic job in parenting.

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