Friday, April 1, 2011

How to recognize a parent. (or Is it that obvious I don't have children?)

This morning we woke up to a great surprise. My bestie from way back and her husband invited us to eat with them. I suggested IHOP. The food was excellent and the conversation great. However, on the way home I began to ruminate over how obviously NOT a parent I am. I admit it, the thought of tiny, grubby toddler hands touching something I plan to eat or drink disgusts me to the core. I have never been able to share food with a kid, not even my dear and wonderful niece and nephew. This is not the only reason I hesitate around children. I also usually don't rush to hold a baby. I'm afraid it may rub off and make me pregnant. (Yes, I know, that's not how it works...) I relish being able to make last minute decisions about trips, and sleeping until I wake up. I admit, I'm selfish. I love having Mr. Kat Lady to myself.

I also thought about how easy it is to recognize someone who IS a parent. Parents are those people with sleep in their eyes and a firm grip on their screaming toddler. Parents can be seen desperately dragging their worn out and crying (or jumping up and down hyper) child out of Walmart following an overloaded cart. Some parents even have children that survive to be teenagers! Those parents often have more than a few gray hairs and a noticeable twitch in their right eye.

Mothers act much differently than fathers. While a mother will take the time to either calm (or threaten) and appease their child, fathers tend to sneak quietly away from the embarrassing scene. They can usually be found in Automotive or Hardware. When located, fathers often look sheepish and embarrassed.

It's a whole different animal for grandparents. They've been through this before. They're the ones giving the misbehaving child a swat, then a stuffed animal to apologize. Grandparents are bipolar. They feel obligated to punish the child for bad behavior, then reward them to make sure the child still loves them. This is often followed by a trip to the Dairy Queen, or park. Seasoned grandparents are less likely to reward after punishment. Their reason? Oh, well if this one hates me I still have the firstborn I spoiled into loving me. (Or, in the case of my mother, I screwed up the first one, let me try this again with the second one...more on her parenting and grandparenting later.)

It's also quite obvious when a single person (or a couple without children) is with the family. They choose one of two stances when confronted with a screaming child. One, (usually a female, but sometimes a male) will try to appease the child- usually with candy, soda, or some other forbidden object to the child. The other becomes the ostrich. This is the blushing, ducking, fade into the corner person. (Usually this is me.) Either way, these "singles" are doomed to failure.

My husband is an appeaser. Young screaming child, would you like my caffeinated soda? That's okay, I'll just get another. My hat? Why sure, if you'll just take a breath. (At this point, the child usually distracts themselves in manifesting the soda into a future hyperactive fit.) He smiles nervously as the child realizes they have created a permanent soda and candy dispenser. Yeah, he's probably always going to be any kid's choice when it comes to us two.

As I said, I'm an ostrich. When confronted with a few screaming kids or a gaggle of cheery 7 year olds, I revert to the "you can't see me if I can't see you" behavior. If possible, I find the nearest adult sanctuary (read bathroom, lounge, or bar) and hang there until things are more under control. I know, this makes me a horrible person, but I have come to terms with that. I am firmly certain that should life circumstances ever make me a mother, I will revert to the above mentioned mother behavior. I think. I hope. Because if not, Mr. Kat Lady is going to have to learn to breast feed...

And with that lovely image I leave you.

Love and Laughter
-Kat Lady