With kids, the messes and the questions just never seem to stop

December 02, 1999|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

I was cleaning the kitchen late one night when I suddenly heard "Boom! Patter, patter, patter, patter, patter."

Just as I was preparing to scold my son for jumping out of bed and running down the stairs long after I tucked him in, I felt his little arm wrap around me. I looked down at his beaming face and had to smile back.

cont. from lifestyle

"Know what, Mommy?"

"What, Tristan?"

"When I grow up, I'm going to marry you."

I gave him a hug and said, "Well, you know what?"


"I'm already married. To your daddy."

"Well, you can get married again," he said with such innocence that I had to smile.


I explained to him that that's not what I have in mind. And besides, we don't marry relatives and that he'll be able to pick a wife close to his age someday.

He had a lot of questions, and I answered each one.

A half hour later, he was tucked in again, and I was back in front of the kitchen sink.

I looked at the floor under the kitchen table and shook my head. Babies - in this case, Tristan's little sister - sure can make a mess when they start to feed themselves.

I don't think she hears, "No, Chloe. Don't throw your peas."

To her ears it must sound like, "Oh, you do that pitching thing so well. Keep doing it until the floor is covered, dear."

Even though it was pretty cute to hear her say, "Uh-oh," the first hundred times or so, it can get pretty gooey. At least pushing the broom and the mop gives me a little bit of exercise each night.

The messes and the questions just never stop.

Sometimes I become a bit overwhelmed at the task of training and teaching my kids. It's what I call the weary-working-parent syndrome.

We want to use our talents and skills on the job, but we also want to have something left when we get home.

On an evening when both kids are crying and my husband is trying to explain some motor-control problem he ran into on the job, it's almost more than I can take, especially if I worked a long day. (Calgon? Now who really has time for a bubble bath? Pleeese.)

But I take a deep breath and repeat to myself part of the steward parable from St. Luke, "To whom much is given ... much is required ...."

I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. Why wouldn't I want to do the best job I can of loving him and raising them?

It's not easy to invest ourselves emotionally and intellectually in the lives of our children. It's much easier to say, "Well, whatever," and let them go their own way. But raising them is the most important thing we will ever do. We can't depend on the school system or the churches or the Scouts to do the job.

The problem with the "It Takes a Village" philosophy is that some parents may think it gets them off the hook.

It gets tiring at times, but we just have to keep at it. Our kids need us more than anything or anybody.

And who knows? Our efforts may be worth a marriage proposal or two.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean is Lifestyle Editor for The Herald-Mail. Email her at

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