I spent an evening in Portland chatting with an old friend. Conversations with him and with my buddy Larry reminded me how difficult it is to be the parent of a toddler.
Back then, parenting was measured in minutes or seconds. You'd suggest an activity like an art project, and the kid would gleefully scribble on a piece of paper. Elapsed time? About 17 seconds. Trying to kill an entire afternoon was like trying to remove all the oxalis from a lawn. Impossible. Futile. Wishing for death-ish.
I recall that Hank would occasionally just announce, without asking permission or even any warning at all, that she needed to go to the bathroom.
I would flip out.
"What? Again?!?! Didn't you go yesterday? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THE CHILD WHILE YOU'RE IN THERE? Oh, god, DON'T TAKE THE NEWSPAPER IN WITH YOU!!"
Horrible. Traumatic. Reconsidering life decisions-y.
It was a mind-numbing, never-ending series of tiny and unfortunate events, like trying to empty an ocean with an eye-dropper, the kind of eye-dropper that screams and poops. Maybe some kids are easier, and maybe some parents have stronger fu, but for me it was like being imprisoned by a sadistic toddler warden (albeit a cute one).
So, let's give a round of applause and thumbs-up to 9 year-olds, who are happy to sit down and read a book for an hour. That kind of parenting, I can do!