The State of Socks and Mealtime

Respite from dressing in winter clothes on the Solstice 2013. Record temperatures.
Parenting. The state of being a parent.

If I have learned anything, it is to have no or few expectations. Jared and I have just a vague roadmap. We each have preferences and tolerance thresholds. Jared is tired of the getting dressed song and dance.  "It's cold. You must put on socks." I'm tired of food-related meltdowns. "If you're hungry, can't you just eat?" We tagteam. I expect that, but I expect that of my adult spouse.

Socks are not as exciting as trains, swings, or batting balloons around the house. Especially not boy's socks - navy, grey, and navy with cadet blue stripes. Especially not since Beren has declared this week, "I don't like silver. I don't like brown. I don't like gold." Especially since he has discovered secondary colors. His once favorite color, blue, has ceded to the once despised hues of green and orange.

I did spy Beren trying to put his socks on this morning. And, he did put on his own shirt yesterday. Wow. The Age of Three is about "I'll do it myself, or not."

Onto my parental exhaustion point. Food. We eat primary (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and secondary (very important snacks between those meals) meals. Beren's primaries are our secondaries, except second breakfast. Second breakfast is serious business for all members of our household. Crankiness rules without this meal.

Dinner is a big one, so long as Beren can sit for it. Beren used to climb into one of our laps to eat. He's given that up, but instead stands in his chair until he leaps from it. Expectations. I don't expect that my three year can sit for dinner. He can't. He doesn't. Jared wishes we had gotten a booster seat, but I say No Regrets. He never used one for more than a moment in a restaurant. He did seem to sit in one at my in-laws', but…No Regrets. anyway, I appreciated the adherence to social norms while at my in-laws'.

I tried really hard to urge Beren to sit at my parents' dinner table. No can do. Didn't work. I just looked like an ineffective parent. I opted to look like a neglectful, modern parent who is part of society's crumbling to waste. My child stands on his chair at the dinner table. No family values here. Luckily, my parents laughed and my mother said again and again, "He's just so and so years old. He's too much. Look at him." Her cheeks shone. She shook her head in faux disapproval, while beaming at her grandson.

And this week, when he stood at the dinner pulpit and waved his hands above us - me, Jared, my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend, he declared that [we were] "All pears. I'll eat you all up." As he proceeded to gnaw on Jared's head, my parents laughed. My Mom shook her head, cheeks shining, smiling, said "He's too much. Maybe the Mexican food is too spicy."

I rolled my eyes and sighed. I smiled, but was relieved that Beren's blonde skull blocked my view of his gleaming teeth taking playful, but bordering on unwound, nips at my husband's forehead. No speaking (or teething) when spoken to here.

And then, why does bedtime snack work best? A couple reasons, I suppose. Beren's bright flame has burned down a bit, worn by the day's chewing. More importantly, Jared is reading a story to him. His focus is on the book, and he can eat.

It took us a bit to realize this. For the upcoming dinners of 2014, we'll be reading at the table, thank you. No New York Times, no Wall Street Journal, no New York Post, nor Trenton Times. Not even the Hopewell Valley News.

Papa Bear will not be smoking a pipe while checking on stocks, the weather, and local crime. He'll be checking on the progress of Ma and Pa and Penny and Pickles Pig in Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.