Life with a smile
By Kate Snyder
Are mothers psychic, or are kids predictable?
As a mother, sometimes I feel like a clairvoyant because I can see the future so clearly. Or maybe it’ just that 8-year-olds are highly predictable. Either way, my son’s alarmingly lopsided haircut felt downright inevitable. I’d been patiently waiting for it for over a week, ever since I caught him eyeing a pair of scissors and musing that he thought the front edge of his mohawk was a trifle long.
No amount of maternal counseling was going to forestall the inevitable misguided hack job.
I’m also an ace at predicting the longevity of new toys, particularly replica weapons. My son usually lasts between three and seven hours with a new toy sword or nerf gun before he breaks the family rules against unsolicited attacks on siblings and loses his new possession for the day.
Or how about the spidey-sense that springs to life when a child edges through your peripheral vision with their hands clasped firmly behind their back or answers “nothing” just a little too quickly when queried as to their current activities. Nice try, kid. The all-powerful-mommy is on to you. Step away from the valentine candy.
Sometimes my psychic mom skills are quite helpful – like when I know to tuck an extra snack into the bag for the child who swears on all available holy relics that they will not be hungry between school and piano lessons, but of course is famished at pickup. Voila! Behold! A bag of goldfish providentially appears. Fall prostrate before my greatness, small hungry child!
At other times, the predictability of children is utterly exhausting. Just once I’d like to be able to leave the house on a winter morning without someone announcing loudly that they don’t need a coat. And I don’t need mystic powers to anticipate the weeping, wailing, and accusations of unfairness that accompany every single basket of clean laundry delivered to a child’s bedroom.
Kids are amazingly predictable. Except when they aren’t.
I never would have guessed that the only television show that currently appeals to all three of my children would be “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.” Would I even have believed the premonition, had it come upon me? Surely such a suggestion is but a sick cosmic joke.
It’s also utterly impossible to predict what three young children will deign to eat at any given meal. It doesn’t matter if they loved it yesterday or if they asked for it today repeatedly and by name, mealtime is a coin toss at best. You’d need a graduate degree in chaos theory to accurately predict the patterns of food consumption.
A few quick illustrations for those not blessed with tiny food critics in their lives. My youngest daughter will only eat corn if it comes from a can (as opposed to the freezer or an actual cob), unless she decides that anything yellow is probably poisonous. On the other hand, she will eat her body weight in Indian chicken curry if given the chance.
When I offered my children complete freedom to select their evening meal one night last week, my son ate three pickles and a bowl of honey nut cheerios.
Apart from mealtimes, I feel like my mental mom skills are pretty sharp — this week. Next week, of course, my children will likely morph into entirely different beings — as is the way of young children — and I’ll have to learn them all over again!