Lindsay Hanson Metcalf: When the kids are bad, dwell on what’s good

Lindsay Metcalf and her sons
Lindsay Metcalf and her sons

Today is not going well. And I have to remind myself that that’s OK.

That I need to forgive myself for yelling. And it’s OK that both my kids, at different points, screamed that they hate me and later relented, maybe sucking a thumb, and hugged it out.

These moments are hard. But I’m done talking about them.

I’m going to get through this by talking about the moments I appreciate. The ones that will vanish when the kids are driving and filling out college applications and I will look back and think, where did the days go?

Today, I am writing them down.

I’m writing down that time a few weeks ago when I finally figured out the reason every sheet, blanket and pillowcase from the linen closet had been unfurled and strewn about the guest room. They had been playing the Chickie Game, of course. Where else would make-believe chickens roost but on the top shelf of the closet?

I’m writing down that argument they had about their shared imaginary friend, Little Kelly (shh — her name is a secret). They had made a bed for her out of a vacuum box and tucked a blanket and pillow inside, but they could not agree on whose bedroom Little Kelly would sleep in.

I’m writing down that time we tried to watch “Inside Out” — a pretty tame Pixar movie — but had to turn it off because the depictions of voices in your head were too real for my little innocents. Too scary.

I’m writing down that Oldest is scared of pretty much everything, even wiggling his loose tooth. His adult tooth has pushed through and made its own sharklike extra row, but he’s scared that the Tooth Fairy will visit. In the night. While he sleeps.

I’m writing down that time they designed their own business cards with first initial, middle and last names, emblazoned with the titles “kindergarten president” and “preschool veterinarian.” And they made a plan to pass them out at school.

I’m writing down that time the preschool veterinarian was an entrepreneur. That time when Mom bought him a plastic chef’s knife and he diced a pear, a marketable convenience food that customers might buy for a quarter. He ventured further, into desserts, and conducted market research among his brother and mother and father, then bagged up quantities of Airheads and miniature peanut butter cups, which he stashed in his fort bed for future sales.

Their world is always about plans. Like the special reading nook Oldest wanted Mom to build for him out of wood, even though he has plenty of nooks and even a playhouse that could work. And when Mom laughed off the idea, his awesome little bro promised that he’d build it, because he knows where Mom keeps the wood scraps and nails and in fact he got a tool kit with a saw and a hammer one Christmas.

This world they live in — this world prizes bodily functions as top-shelf humor. In this kidspace, your self-appointed superhero name can be Super Poop or Super Pee, and Captain Underpants is a legitimate hero. Here, you can joke about “yummy toots” and your brother will belly-laugh.

This world they live in is where I’m living today. Writing all this down is how I get through the bad days. I think about the good ones and remember that while being a parent is hard, it’s pretty darn fun, too.

Follow freelance writer Lindsay Hanson Metcalf on Twitter: @hansonmetcalf