I have three kids ranging from a baby to a 7-year-old. I do a lot of things for my children. Most of them don’t help. Why? Because children are destroyers of all things nice and orderly. And yet, I keep doing them. Why? Hell… I don’t know. Hope that my kids will someday figure out that clean laundry is valuable? Perhaps they will learn from my example? Or perhaps it’s just because I’m bullheaded and stupid. I read a very funny list on Scary Mommy titled “10 Futile Tasks That Parents Keep Doing Anyway” by Valerie Williams on this same subject and I felt inspired to create my own.
Keeping my babies nose free of boogers: My seven-month-old is a dripping booger faucet. It runs from the left nostril, then the right. Mostly both. It seasons her food, and her kisses. She wipes it on her sleeve, and on mine. Every time I wipe her face, she wiggles, and whimpers, and then looks at me like I’m an asshole. Like I did something rude that was unexpected and unwanted, and now she has to work harder at turning her face into a green mess. And sure enough, she does make more boogers, and yet I keep wiping her face, hopeful that whatever seal is bad in her head will one day mend itself and stop blotting my clothing with yellow crusty stains.
Vacuuming: I vacuumed last night before I went to bed. When I come home, my floor will be a storm of white specks I can’t identify, crushed cheerios and crackers. There will also, most likely, be a new stain. And yet, I will vacuum again before bed, like I always do, and when I go to bed, I will feel satisfied in the fact that the floor looks nice, and for some stupid reason, I take comfort in the assumption that it will stay that way.
Getting my children to sleep: The real problem here is that I have three of them. Getting all three to sleep through the night with out one of them peeing their pants, needing a drink of water, dreaming about monsters, or asking for a popsicle, is like aligning the stars. Mel and I try a lot of things to get our children to sleep through the night. Regular bedtimes and bedtime routines. We coach the older ones on how to take care of themselves in the night. Ultimately, though, Jesus is at the wheel when it comes to sleep. Some nights are good, but most are bad, and honestly, I just need to stop getting pissed off about my kids not sleeping, stop trying, and accept the fact that I’m living in a nighttime hell.
Getting the pee smell out of the toilet: I have a little boy who pees like a drunken pirate with a wooden leg. I’m not sure how much urine gets in the toilet each time, but it must be somewhere between 5 and 0 percent. I clean around the base of the toilet, the bolts, around the lid… I scrub the damn thing with a mop, toothbrush, and sponge. Sometimes I get so close, and so committed, that I accidently touch my face against the bowl and gag a little. Each time I finish, I take a shower. Then I lean in near the toilet, give it a sniff, assuming the pee smell will be gone, but nope, still there, hiding somewhere between the linoleum and the toilet base, laughing at my hard work.
Introducing new food: If it were up to my two oldest, they would eat a steady diet of dinosaur shaped meat, mac & cheese, and fish sticks. I’m not sure if this diet would speed things up, or slow things down in their body, but I am confident that their colon would revolt in some way. This is why I try hard to get my kids to try new food. Rarely is it anything too extravagant. For example, I tried to get my son to try a bean burrito not too long ago, and he looked at it, wide-eyed, like it were a long dark cave. After much convincing, he finally took a bite, and ended up gagging, teary-eyed, and frustrated, like I’d give him poison. Each new food has the same reaction, and yet I keep introducing new food, hoping it will take, and worrying about the state of their colon.
Stopping fits: My five-year-old is a fit machine. If she isn’t getting frustrated over her homework, she’s flipping out because no one smelled her fart. Each time she gets worked up, I lean down, and tell her to stay calm, use her words, ask for help… And every time she looks at me like I’m directing her off a cliff. I keep giving her strategies to keep calm, and each one is cast aside until I get frustrated enough to carry her into her room and shut the door. Most of the time, I want to just leave her there, ignore her, let her get it out. But I keep trying because I want her, so badly, to become a confident and independent woman.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.