With the holidays fast approaching, I’ve dedicated the guest room as a “wrapping room” and have paper, bows, tape, and scissors spread all over the place. The wrapping room is off limits to other members of the family. Except for Clementine. Despite repeated injunctions to stay out, Clementine has wormed her little way in there more often than I realized.
I read recently that it’s the third child that puts parents over the edge, and I agree. For one thing, in a two-parent family, there are now four more kids than mothers. For another, with the first and second child, the parenting standards are still high.
Let me explain. I was so scrupulous with my first baby. I did every single thing by the books, all 14 of them that I read religiously and kept alphabetized on a reference shelf in the nursery. When one book slightly contradicted another, I had a decision-making rubric established to help me decide which parenting advice to follow.
When the second baby came along, I was determined to be equally efficient. I had heard my younger sister complain that there weren’t as many baby pictures of her as there were of me (though I could have told her that didn’t have anything to do with birth order) and I didn’t want my second child to feel slighted. So I tried extra hard to keep up the same level of frenetic mothering as I had with my first. During that time of my life, it’s a good thing I did have two kids because I had become so insufferable that they were the only people that would hang out with me.
When the third baby arrived, the standards were, in theory, still high, but in reality, it was all I could do to bathe the child once a week. Hey, what are baby wipes made for?
Clementine’s my third kid. Let’s just say the level of supervision has decreased slightly since my firstborn was six. So orders to keep out of the “wrapping room” have not been enforced. Not only that but since his retirement, Joel is in charge of Clementine more than I am, which – well, do I even need to explain the relevance there?
So yesterday, I placed a couple of gifts I had wrapped under the tree, and I saw that there were 12 other presents already there. Now, I had been busy, but not that busy. These gifts were rather untidily swathed with the deluxe flocked paper that costs 19 dollars a roll, I might add. In fact, they were so shoddily wrapped, I assumed Joel must have bought gifts already. This supposition worried me because I hadn’t yet told him what he is getting me.
But then my six-year-old solved the mystery. Clementine had wrapped all those presents. She made me promise not to peek in them, but honestly, I wondered what she could be giving away. The last time Joel was in charge, Clementine had come running downstairs to ask me why there were little plastic bags containing baby teeth in my jewelry box. There could be anything in these gift boxes, and I was pretty sure the intended recipients wanted more than just their two front teeth for Christmas. Worse yet, she might have decided to give away something valuable. Lord knows we don’t want to give anybody something really good.
So I had to break my promise. I carefully removed the wrapping to reveal the following presents: Two partially inflated balloons, a dried piece of Play-Dough, a broken candy cane, a dog biscuit, a pipe cleaner, three Q-tips, my best lipstick, a lice-removal comb, and a miniature pumpkin. I want to make it clear that I have no idea where she got that lice removal comb, because we have never, ever had any need for something like that; I swear. But it was fortuitous that I opened the gifts because the pumpkin was rotten, so I finally got to the bottom of the rancid smell that had been wafting through the living room for three days.
Despite her squirreling tendencies, I can’t stay mad at Clementine for long, because each of the presents had phonetically spelled name tags that were, of course, adorable. And, how can I fault a child who at least takes after me in holiday spirit! Hope your week wraps up nicely!