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Petunia and the Tale of the Advanced Math

You can rinse out the old milk, but you can’t rinse out the memories of the smell.

There are a lot of large obvious things that parents trot out, especially to non-parents, to give them a sense of the of the annoying things about being a parent. The sleeplessness, the laundry, but there are a lot of unaccounted for happenings that are also horrible.

The cups of curdled milk are lurking everywhere.

The demand for milk is huge in my house. We’ve had to go up to a two gallon per grocery trip family. A few years ago — my husband reminded recently reminded me as I was debating where to put that second gallon in the fridge — we had a half a gallon of milk go bad regularly. Now, my morning routine includes gathering up multi-colored neon plastic cups with contents of questionable ages and hoping it isn’t gloppy when I go to rinse it in the sink.

I tried to mitigate this by only pouring a sip and a half, knowing that the rest would be ignored in favor of running outside like a dirt-inspired banshee, but after absentmindedly pouring half of glass for my husband where he said, “I’m not our daughter”, and pouring a two sips for my daughter and being reminded, “I’m not my baby brother”, I give everyone half a cup of milk, put the gallon on the counter, and let the chips fall as they may.

Being a little rude is the only way to keep your sanity.

My butt has barely grazed the seat of the chair or I have taken one satisfyingly full bite.

“Can I have more milk please?”

You stare blankly as you chew or start to warm the seat. “No, you may not in this moment. Give me a minute to process more requests. Please and thank you.”

You really don’t know the content of your character until you become a parent.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to be the disciplinarian, but I didn’t know that I would bring such a hammer into the relationship. I am the un-fun Mom who’ll give a sharp and deep “No” combined with a thundercloud of a face when my children race around a table in Taco Tote.

“But they’re just playi — ”

“No, they are sitting and eating and they can race around like souped up NASCAR…car…when we get home.”

Then I’m the baddie to everyone. There is no winning.

I thought I’d be way more of an earth goddess too when it came to parenting. I think the recounting of the ye old poop stained cloth diaper tales fluttering in the wind cured me of that idea. And when a dirty hand grabbed a potato from the gordita and my husband winced and inhaled, I’m the one to be like, dirt is fine, dirt is so they won’t spend so much on allergy pills and have their coworkers wonder if they’re bringing typhoid in the cubicles and they spend half of their day clarifying that it’s “just allergies.”

However, I encourage using the dog as a napkin only for the hands and not for the face. There need to be some limits.

You become an unofficial PR agent.

This isn’t about inserting your child into everyone one upping conversation; we all know the parents who do that. “Little Petunia can do 5th grade math.”

“She’s, uh, two.”

“Just gifted.”

No. Other parents either a) don’t believe you, b) don’t care and/or c) have increased anxiety. It all comes and phases like grief and you’re not making the world a better place. Petunia may. Get her on solving Tesla’s economic approach into the auto market and I may be impressed. But probably not.

It’s the flip side side to the PR agent that doesn’t get a lot of play. It’s when you have to stifle a gasp at the darkness of the eye rings of your friend with a three-year-old who still refuses to sleep through the night and they have recently added an infant to the mix.

You do not recount tales of your child sleeping at all. You commiserate with nods and sighs. You do not tell about her about your child sleeping soundly since she was three-months-old or still requesting naps. You say nothing. You are nothing. You refuse to spook the unicorn that is your child who may or may not be solving equations for Telsa in the other room.


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