Some of my least favorite parenting occurs immediately following our arrival home after school, after the after school program pick up, maybe even after having stopped for the mail or a few items at the grocery store. When both our children were still strapped in the 5 point harness, they hung out for a few moments while I traipsed all of our bags, etc, mail, to the kitchen table. Then I returned for the children who might be happily chatting, babbling, maybe crying, but they were safe and they couldn’t touch, hit, or scratch each other while snugged into their 5 point harness. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot about the 5 point harness days I couldn’t wait to be past, like when Greta would throw a tantrum because I could not understand her words or when Carver would empty the contents of his backpack so he could fill it with rocks. Oh, wait, he still does that.
The day came when Carver realized he could unbuckle, and he raised his hands in sheer jubilee as this newfound freedom felt remarkable. Then he unleashed his sister until she could do it herself. She would generally end up beneath a car or in a puddle with a snack she was afraid her brother would take. Upon parking the car, Carver would run around the back of the house wanting me to chase him when really all I wanted was to empty my arms of the day’s baggage.
Back in the 5 point harness, our kids were not applying to the Loon Race Team for a scholarship, which asked them to write responses to a few questions around goals for the ski season. Back in the 5 point harness, Carver would not have been able to clearly articulate that his goals for this season were threefold:
- learn to carve better
- learn to do a side flip and 540
- ski faster than Bode Miller
Back in the 5 point harness, Greta’s only goal for ski season might still have been:
- to beat her brother down the mountain
She has been fairly consistent since birth about not just keeping up with her brother, but aiming to surpass him whenever possible. I’m fairly certain she will continue to give him a run for his money in the years to come, but given an extra 25 pounds, it’s doubtful he will lose to his sister this season.
Back in the 5 point harness, I would not have to answer questions about why a man would want to shoot and hurt and kill a bunch of other people at a concert. Nor, would they wonder aloud if that kind of person with all of those guns would ever come to Loon Mountain “because, Mom, there are a lot of people who ski in our town on the weekends. Mom, do you think as many people ski at Loon as were at that concert in Las Vegas?”
Back in the 5 point harness, they wouldn’t worry about whether there would be enough money for chocolate milk or hot lunch because they overheard Mom and Dad talking about some debt. Of course, there will always be money for chocolate milk and an occasional hot lunch at school I assure them.
Back in the 5 point harness, they wouldn’t know to say, “But, Mom, did you know some kids don’t have any breakfast foods at home? Mom, how do some families not have breakfast foods? Does that mean that sometimes they don’t have dinner foods either?” Back in the 5 point harness, they would just believe that everyone’s bellies were full and warm in their pajamas each night. Back in the 5 point harness, there would be no lone gun man, no terrorists, no poverty, no forest fire in their White Mountains.
On the flip side, back in the 5 point harness, bedtime questions would not involve the tooth fairy and her assistants. She believes one fairy could not possible take care of all the lost teeth in the world but Santa and one sleigh are capable of handling all toys for children of the world. She wonders if the tooth fairies are able to slip through glass windows or if they shrink down through the lock in the door knob. She asks if the tooth fairies wear gloves so that the tiny teeth don’t slip from her grasp when pulling them out of the baggy under her pillow case. She asks why baby cows are born wet when they come out of their mothers. She asks if girl turtles have their tubes tied when they don’t want to have any more baby turtles. There are some pretty awesome things happening beyond the 5 point harness no doubt; but there are days when I wish we could all just buckle in again.