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This August, John and I will hit the decade milestone for how long we’ve known each other. We will also celebrate our 9th marriage anniversary. (Wedding anniversary? How do you say that?)

It is a weird and wonderful comfort that exists in living with the same person for so long. I obviously haven’t had it since childhood. And I didn’t get to choose those people.

As we plug through the seemingly endless list of things-to-do to make a new house feel more livable, John and I have had our moments of dorky old-people-style evenings of nostalgia. Perhaps it started with unpacking a CD case that neither of us had opened in years, and reacquainting ourselves with albums from college and the year we dated. If I ever develop dementia in old age, forget about reading me my life story from a notebook every night. Just play some Pearl Jam or Ben Folds and I feel confident I’ll be able to recall the way my 2004 Hyundai Elantra smelled when it was brand new.

Another recurring conversation of the past few weeks has come in the form of parenting self-evaluations. I’ll arrogantly admit that we speak very highly of our abilities in this arena. Many people mistakenly believe we have been lucky or “blessed” with well-behaved children, which I assume is due to the fact that, in public anyway, we most often seemingly have our shit together.

I would submit however, that it is mostly due to the challenges we face primarily with our first child that the rest are turning out so well.

The other night at dinner (I was gone), Carter told John that her sister locked her in the playhouse that day. It started when the slightly older South Carolina girls from across the street came up with the brilliant idea to bribe Carter into a plastic playhouse that sits in the back corner of our yard. The thing hasn’t been used in over a year and has probably never been cleaned. Right now it houses a bunch of strange broken toys (reminiscent of things you might find in the bedroom and yard of Sid Phillips), various webs and nests, spiders, probably, ants, probably, and God only knows what other nastiness.

Carter enters the small house at the promise of candy, and South Carolina makes Eliott their little henchman in charge of blocking the door. Then, they run away.

Eliott, genius that she is as a seven year old firstborn, proceeds to keep her little sister barricaded in for several minutes, despite Carter’s panic stricken shrieks and cries.

Eliott should certainly know better. But a big huge part of me also entertained thoughts of exactly how to torture South Carolina until they felt as bad or worse as they made my favorite five-year-old feel that day. The sad part is that if we reversed the tables and put Eliott inside the playhouse of doom, her sister would have been biting, scratching, and screaming her way through South Carolina to let her sister out. She probably even would have used some curse words, if I know Carter like I think I do.

Flash forward not even twenty-four hours later. Eliott has since been properly punished by the creativity of her father. We’ve put it behind us. Friday morning I took the kids to church for a community service outreach project where we were making cards and goodie bags to deliver to local fire stations.

Carter spent most of the morning running around with the other kids in her flip flops. When we got in the car to go deliver the stuff, she was complaining of a blister between her toes. My champion mother response: “Suck it up Carter, we’re going to a fire station and you can’t go in there barefoot. I don’t even have a bandaid. And I really don’t want to listen to you whine about it. But I am sorry that it hurts.”

That was the last I heard from her about it. It wasn’t until all of the kids had piled into the back of a fire truck that I noticed Carter was wearing Eliott’s Crocks, and Eliott was schlepping around in Carter’s two-inches-too-short flip flops.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the seven-year-oldĀ decides to be a hero for the day.

I almost cried.

Parenting Joy
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