Anja and Greta are ages 9 and 8 years now and, I know, that leaves me plenty of time to mess them up. But, so far, the parenting style of my younger days that made me occasionally stress about how they were going to turn out, has proven to be an adequate style that produced two children who make their bed, say please and thank you, shut the door during AND wash their hands after using the bathroom.
They weren't always like this.
But there was that one time when she was about two, that I fixed her hair and stroked her chubby little cheeks that are a perfect complexion, and looked into those dark shiny eyes and told her, "Greta, you have the most beautiful skin." And she looked back at me with a death glare and said, "My will eat you."
Hm. That doesn't sound very loving or.... normal.
There was a time when, as toddlers, Anja and Greta would gleefully hop into the bathtub, eager for their first and favorite game of bath time, which was called, "Let's Pee on Each Other." They would stand there and pee, and see who could get the most pee on the other one. It was gross, it was weird, it was slightly concerning. I wondered vaguely, are they going to go to college and think it's okay to pee on their dorm-mates? Are they going to be forever trained to let loose in the tub? I mean, I guess that's kind of a personal decision, but it's still gross, and I don't want to be at all responsible for that kind of training. What about swimming pools? What if MY kids are the the ones who put the "P" in the neighborhood Ool?
The phase didn't last forever. I told them it was gross, they continued to do it anyway (and find it absolutely hysterical,) and then eventually (probably after only a few weeks) they stopped doing it. I don't remember them ENDING the game, I only laugh when I remember that they did it.
Also the big fits, the massive meltdowns, the absolutely colossal tantrums thrown both in public and privately, over things like "I want to touch that pink balloon tied to the car at the dealership we just drove by," or, "You squirted my soap from the dispenser on the left and I wanted soap from the dispenser on the right AND I WANTED TO DO IT MYSELF, YOU MONSTER." Things like this pass. And it's weird, because even though everyone loves balloons, eventually kids become less passionate about balloons and you can look back at how they really would have given their life just to touch that one balloon that in that tiny moment they loved with their whole itty bitty toddler heart, and when you remember that day and see them now as an 8 year old (or older) doing things that normal, average 8 year olds do... there's a little tug. There's just a tiny bit of sadness that she's not two anymore. And even though that whole balloon phase had it's challenges (do you realize how many balloons are floating around the world in locations that make them completely untouchable?!) it was also full of sweetness and innocence... and now it's over.
The reason I bring all this up is that now my big girls are big and my little girls are at that age where they do some concerning things. Ingrid and Elka are now 3 and 4 years old, and they partake in their fair share of concerning antics. Many are the exact same things Anja and Greta did at the same ages. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my parenting hasn't really changed much and I take heart seeing how Anja and Greta have turned out (relatively) normal so far. It only makes sense that these weird little idiosyncrasies of the younger two will work themselves out in time.
This afternoon the two little ones and I were snuggled up on the couch reading storybooks together. Really, it was an image of parenting perfection. They've both had a little bit of a cold this past week and have had some "backup" in the nasal region, so I wasn't really surprised when Ingrid started digging and pulled out a large specimen.
I was surprised, however, at Elka's reaction, which was to lick her lips, say, "I want it!" with a big smile, reach over and pluck it straight off her sister's finger and pop it into her own mouth.
I was even more surprised when, from the neighboring nostril, Ingrid produced a second big find, and said to me, "You want it?" And before I could answer, she had shoved it into my mouth.
So, here I am now, at the end of the day, looking back at their little antics with laughter (and a side of nausea) and I think of how tenderly I remember the weird, wild, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants days of raising the older two and see how similar these days are. I know these days filled with challenges and "interesting" anecdotes won't last forever. It makes me appreciate them so much more. I have to wonder though, will I someday look back on these current days and shed a sentimental tear over the memory of somebody else's booger being placed in my mouth?
And then I worry that I might, and I think my kids really are doomed after all.