Children are not human. They are, in fact, animals. If you are a parent, you have probably compared your child(ren) to some kind of creature found on a farm or in a zoo. My oldest, for example, swings, jumps, and bounces around the house with the speed and agility of a monkey. And, with her prehistoric shrieks, the youngest has been dubbed a pterodactyl.
Recently, though, the overly energetic mammal and carnivorous reptile have metamorphosed into beasts of a different form. I now have a hungry goat and a rabid beaver living in my house.
The oldest is the hungry goat. She actually came up with the comparison on her own. “I’m a goat because I’m always hungry,” she said to me one day. Indeed, she is hungry at the most inconvenient times: before I have had my coffee, when I am in the middle of grading an essay, just after she has brushed her teeth and is about to be tucked into bed…
She began showing goat-like tendencies at an early age. When she was moved from her crib to a toddler bed, she began waking me up in the morning by getting right in my face and saying, “Ont cereal.” Today, she can more clearly speak her needs, but the sentiment is still the same. “I’m hungry” are the words first spoken from daughter to mother most mornings. (I withhold my response from you, dear reader, as I do from her.)
The only problem with the goat comparison is that goats are generally less picky. Yes, my child is always hungry, but she never eats what I offer.
Last night before bed, there was a clash between the hungry goat and her mama bear. Despite having eaten most of her dinner and all of her dessert, she claimed to be hungry just before bedtime. I offered her some carrots. This seemed a logical choice as it would be nutritious and not too heavy on her stomach.
I held my ground and let her know that it was a choice between carrots and being hungry. She then tried to negotiate a third choice, which I did not oblige. After several rounds of attempted negotiations, she sulkily chose hungry and fell asleep on the couch in the middle of a good pout.
In retrospect, the carrot trick might have worked better if my dear child were a horse. I guess I will have to try something else to make my little goat budge.
Dealing with a hungry goat is one thing, but I also have a rabid beaver on the loose. My youngest earned this nickname from her naptime antics. I had taken the goat to the movies (where she requested popcorn and candy). When I texted my fiance to check on things at home, the response I got was a bit enigmatic. It simply read, “New name. Z the Beaver.”
At first, I thought the nickname had something to do with the rather prominent top teeth the baby is now sporting. Her father had recently commented on the disproportionate size of these teeth in comparison to the ones on bottom. So, thinking nothing else of it, I continued watching the movie with my popcorn-muncher, feeding from her trough.
Upon my arrival home, I casually asked about the new nickname. I was then led into the bedroom and motioned toward the baby’s crib. That was when I understood the reference to a wood-gnawing dam-builder. Instead of taking her nap that afternoon, she had decided to sharpen her teeth on one of the top rails.
Unfortunately, this is not the only surface my little beaver has sunk her teeth into. A few days later, she demonstrated her rabidity on her sister’s cheek. A few inches higher, and her handiwork would have been on par with that of Mike Tyson.
My children certainly keep me on my toes. If it’s not one, it’s the other. Most times it’s both. At the same time. And, in the animal kingdom, that makes me an amphibian. Adaptable to both land and water, I must occupy two environments inhabited by entirely different creatures.
No, it’s not easy, but no one ever said that it would be. Parenting often feels like survival of the fittest. It is certainly not for the weak of mind, heart, or stomach. Having a hungry goat and a rabid beaver in the house requires a fox-like wit and the eyes of a hawk. And, yes, to keep me going, I sometimes need a carrot dangled in front of me.