Preschool or College?

Jul 1 2011

Being a kid can be a bummer some of the time, especially for the Hard Life Lessons.

Like learning how to chew and swallow by choking on your food.  Oh, how I hated the Gagging Babies Stage of child-rearing.  It made me nervous, anxious and stressed to allow my babes the freedom to self-feed, even though I understood that they (but mostly I) must endure it.  If I ever get my private audience with God, that’s on the written agenda: Item #8 — adjacent eating and breathing tubes.  Really, God?  Are you sure that wasn’t a design flaw? 

Also a bear: learning how to stay dry at night.  ‘Cause the best way to learn to haul your rear out of bed and get your pee into the toilet is to spend a little time sleeping — and then waking — in your own urine.  I think any time spent in your own waste should count as a Hard Life Lesson.

Didn’t wipe well enough and have the raging, red, butt rash to prove it?  Hard Life Lesson. (But here’s some Aquaphor.)

Suspended for flicking a kid in the face who used colored pencils out of turn?  Hard Life Lesson.

Spending the morning in your room because you didn’t do your chores, perpetually pestered your younger siblings, and then yelled, “Come on, Mom!” when she reminded you to take care of your own business and get your nose out of theirs?  Hard Life Lesson.  (Plus extra chores so you can practice having a good attitude.  That’s a Hard Life Lesson Bonus Feature!  And I know how much you like Bonus Features.  Hooray!)

So. These are Hard Life Lessons for the kids, but also for the parents, yes? It pretty much sucks having to be the Hard Life Lesson Witness and Umpire and Enforcer and Consoler.

At times like this, I like to play a fun little game in my head called “Preschool or College?”

It goes like this:

  1. My kids suffer a Hard Life Lesson.
  2. I wonder whether they’ll be doing the same thing in college someday.
  3. If the answer to #2 is yes, I freak out.  Then I consult my friends so they can tell me I’m a freaker, calm me down, and assure me I’m wrong.  This marks the only time in my life that I enjoy being wrong.
  4. If the answer to #2 is no, I relax.  I said, RELAX, BETH!  I remind myself that my children probably won’t wet the bed in college.  Unless they’ve had too much to drink.  Which of course they won’t because I’ll have taught ’em to be responsible and never make mistakes.

Easy rules, right?  Right.  That’s ’cause the easy games are the only ones for which I have brain-space these days.

So, Preschool or College? is a very handy tool I use to remind myself that things won’t always be this way.

I used Preschool or College? twice last night, and once the night before.

I’m very excited to announce that we’ve begun our final (Dear Jesus, please let it be the final) nighttime potty training event.  My youngest child — younger than his twin brother by a whoppin’ 3 hours and 17 minutes (someday I’ll tell you how fun that twin labor was) — has decided he’s tired of sleeping in his pull-up and would prefer to wear undies to bed.

Past experience has taught me that this process will take somewhere between one week and two years.  This kid’s a heavy sleeper, so I may blog about this for a loooonnnnggg time to come.  Prepare yourselves.

There are three pieces of good news here.

  1. We have nighttime wet-bed changes down to a science.  Gone are the days of changing sheets in the middle of the night while the wet child shivers, waiting for new PJ’s.  Oh, no; that takes far too much time away from Mommy’s sleep.  Nope.  Instead, we pile up the towels on the bed, laying them flat, one on top of the other, and tucking them in as much as possible to avoid rumpling from the thrashing of the sleeping child.  Then, when the child wets the bed, we peel off the top, wet layers of towels, change the child (into the dry PJ’s we laid out on his dresser), put him back in bed on the dry towels, and rush back to our bed for sleep.  Blessed, blessed sleep.
  2. Preschool or College? Cael will probably be done nighttime potty training before he leaves for college.  Yay!
  3. If I save my pennies for the next 13 years, I might be able to buy an entire set of brand-new towels that have never, ever been urinated on.  It’s all about having hope, people.  All about the hope.

But the weirdest Preschool or College? events are those where I’m pretty sure the answer is, well, both.

Like this story, which was sent to me by my friend, Heidi, this week and involves those rascally twin boys o’ mine and her daughter, Kate.

I had a laugh out loud moment again with your children today.

Kate loves both of your littles, but I think she and Cai have more of a sympatico thing going. So today at the park before our swimming lessons, both Cai and Cael were circling around Kate in play.

I took her to the car and had her change into her cute little swimsuit in the car and told Cai to give her a little privacy while she changed.  But it was just SO HARD.

He hovered and kept yelling through the closed window, “How are you doing in there Kate? Are you done yet? Do you have your clothes on or off? What are you doing NOW Kate? Can I come to your house?”

Kate flounced out of the car and they ran away hand-in-hand.

Cael was quietly observing all this from the edge of the park.

I told Cai we were going into the pool for swim lessons and the boys followed us to the outer edges of the park.  Right as we were walking in the doors to the pool, Cai started yelling, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, KAAAAATTTTEEEEEE! I have to tell you one more thing.”

Kate yelled back, “What Cai?”


She yelled, “Thank you. I love you, too.” and ran to the pool.

I was last one through the door, so I was the only one to hear Cael more quietly yell, “And I love you, Kate!”

I had a feeling as I chuckled and walked in the door that it was just one big example of your twins’ life together.  Cai will be the frontman and make sure Cael has a date to prom someday.  Maybe it’ll even be Kate.

We’ve been saying it for years.  Cael, Mr. Calm and Logic, will get Cai through school.  Cai, Mr. Social and Personable, will get Cael dates.  I just didn’t expect them to start aiding each other in these efforts quite so soon.

So… when my kid is trying to hang out around the girls’ dressing room, checking on her clothed vs. unclothed status, and yellin’ “KAAAAATTTTEEEEEE!  I LOOOOVVVVEEEEE YOUUUUUUU, KAAAATTTEEE!”…

then I ask myself, Preschool or College?

And I’m forced into one conclusion.  I’m afraid it’s both.  Both Preschool and College.

To all the parents of all the little girls out there, consider yourself warned.  My boys are a-comin’, and they’re on their way NOW.

Preschool and College, baby.  Preschool and College.