Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rules of Possession

I went to visit my mom Thursday in my hometown, an hour away from where I live now. She was keeping my nephew, who happens to be two weeks younger than my 2-year-old. Since I was there (and I'm not there all that often anymore), my brother stopped by our mom's house to eat his lunch and see my kids. He set his food out on the counter and my nephew climbed up on the barstool next to him, dutifully. My mom gave Asher (my nephew) something to eat - even though he'd already eaten - and the two dug right in. And then I heard this very one-sided exchange...

"Asher, that's Daddy's ketchup."

"No, Asher, leave that alone, that's Daddy's ketchup."

"Asher, I said no, that's Daddy's ketchup. You have your own ketchup. Leave Daddy's ketchup alone."

(like a frustrated child) "No, Asher! That's DADDY'S ketchup!"

"Fine! Have my ketchup. I'll just use your ketchup."


And so it goes. You think something is yours, but it's not. That's what nobody told me. Once you are a parent, nothing is ever completely yours again. You must share everything or surrender it to parenthood completely.

That sounds much more dire than it actually is. It's not all horrible, but it's certainly frustrating. Let me give you another example from my own life - today at lunch.

I fixed my children's lunches, scrambled around to make sure they were fed, and cleaned up afterwards (not something I always do. I'm not the best housekeeper, to say the least.) After all was said and done,  the children were sitting in the living room quietly and happily watching Special Agent Oso and picking their toes. So I made myself a simple peanut butter & jelly sandwich then sat on the couch next to the laptop. Suddenly, they were there. And I don't just mean nearby. I mean on top of me.

Before I'd taken my first bite, Katie, my daughter, started actively pulling on my clothes and limbs, desperately trying to get into my lap. Charlie, my two-year-old, was actually on top of me making chomping sounds and trying to get to my sandwich. I let Katie take a bite first and then Charlie, and Charlie pulled a third of the sandwich back with him - apparently he has somewhere learned to rip his food like a T-Rex with a gland problem. I allowed myself a single bite, but before I had swallowed Katie had her mouth open like a baby bird and Charlie was chomping again. They each got a bite, and then I got another one. Charlie's third bite was the last of the sandwich, and he tried to take part of my finger with him (there's still a mark there.)

From the minute your child is born, the contents of your pantry and refrigerator subtly change. Where there used to be 7 types of gourmet beer, now there are 6 tiny little bottles of breastmilk. Your pantry now has 8 strained vegetables and 4 pureed fruits instead of 4 varieties of olives for that AMAZING dish you used to have time to make. As the kids get older, instead for the Kashi you like and used to eat (But seriously, does anyone like Kashi? really?), there's Cheerios, Kix and Trix. These aren't terrible changes, and they're worth it because of your little heathen angel, but they're different.

Parents, you've been there. The greedy little eyes every time you take a sip of your coke. Sticky little hands in the popcorn bowl. The baby-bird mouth when you're eating an ice cream bar. You walk away from you pop-tart and come back to crumbs. You've all been there. Tell me you've been there and I'm not just raising gluttonous little heathens. Please?

So what do we do? Well, as I see it, there's not a whole lot we CAN do. We could piss and moan, of course, but that won't do any good. Swallowing it and pretending it's the greatest thing in the world won't either. It's a big, steaming hunk of crap sometimes to have to give up part of just about every meal to your kid. As much as you love them, sometimes you want to act like them, stamping your feet and screaming - NO! That's MINE! Mine mine MINE!

My advice - find something you like and claim it as your own. Share if you want, but mark your territory and make damn sure that yours is yours. It's as good for them as it is for you, actually - kids at school don't generally walk up to each other and take bites of each others' sandwiches. As for me, I share my food with my kids all day long (obviously), but I don't share drinks. It has nothing to do with germs, it has to do with claiming something as my own. And as they get older, I'm getting better about claiming the occasional two bites of food in succession as my own.

Maybe, for their birthdays in August, I'll treat myself to three bites of cake right straight in a row.



  1. I was reading along and totally agreeing with you! If I get something "just for me", I usually have to hide it in my bedroom otherwise my seven year old will make short work of it. So here I am lying in bed, sick as a dog, and my son is whining about there being nothing to eat. Then he surprises me with breakfast! "here mom, I made you breakfast!" what a sweet kid!

    1. Do you rent? Because mine are being p

    2. perfect hellions. Including hitting enter before mommy is ready.

      Not having a great morning in our house.

  2. jmbrewer, that's because you've got some amazing kids. ;)

    It's true though. I'm not a parent, but having raised a younger brother and babysat my share, I am enjoying every bit of mine-is-mine while I still can!

  3. Reminds me of when my niece, then 3, was hungry at a wedding reception. She walked right up to my boyfriend, took the hors d'oeuvre right out of his hand and ate it on the spot.

    1. Bonus points if she then looked at him like, "Whut?"

  4. My youngest nephew was nicknamed Mooch when he was a toddler because he would go around the dinner table every night mooching off everyone else's plates. He's 13 now and I think he's outgrown it.

    1. I love how you "think" he's outgrown it. Like you got so tired of it you quit going to eat dinner at your sister's.

      Not that I blame you. I heard her meatloaf was to die for.

  5. *shifty look* I, ah, remember doing this when I was younger. At least I only do it occasionally now?

    1. My husband loves when I do this. He has finally, after years of me snitching, just started donating certain things on his plate to me. Like his pickles.