by Js Kendrick
“So I was a mistake?” she said to me. I have to be honest, laughing out loud was almost my response.
About 9 years ago I had Father/Daughter talk with my oldest. Jen was berating me for letting her 15-year-old sister ‘Date’. I had not been so easy on my eldest child. I was the 1001 question father, the what time? and where are you going? father. She had to wait until she was 16, and a late 16 at that, before I begrudgingly said ‘fine’.
So to answer her question as to why I was letting her sister Kayla date at a younger age, and not giving her younger sister as much grief as I did her, I told her a simple fact. She was my mistake child. She, well, she didn’t take that comment very well. With a trembling lip and a voice that was bordering on that whine one gets just before they cry, she wanted to know. “So I was a mistake?” I had to do my best to keep it together. Laughter was out of the question.
She had taken my meaning wrong of course. I on the other hand, could have said it better. But I did tell her this.
“No you are not a mistake, I love you and always will. But you are my first child. Jen you are 17, and being my first-born, you are all the years of knowledge I have with raising kids. You are the kid I make mistakes on, and I am sorry. So that’s why I’m harder on you than Kayla. I learn from you.”
Now she did have tears lurking in her eyes, but I hugged and kissed her forehead to let her know she was loved. Then I apologized for screwing up so much.
Boy did I screw up with my first child, from her first diaper…a black tar baby poop that made me say “Oh god!” and step away from the little plastic clear tub they put babies in at the hospital…to vomit on my neck and shoulder when I thought it was a good idea to hold my little baby girl above me just after feeding her. I did all the new parent stupid tricks. It’s just the normal learning curve you have as a new parent.
As a new parent you learn very quickly that having a dog or cat is not the same as having a kid. Your dog will not throw your new T.V. remote in the garbage…just for you to discover what happened to that new fangled remote the day after garbage day. Nor will your cat leave a glass of milk hidden in her bedroom for four days “in case I get thirsty at night”.
I certain never remember the cat cutting the dog’s hair on picture day. Yet my mistake child did give her sister an interesting ‘do’. Then again my kids never scratched the other one’s nose with their claws. No wait, yes they did. Along with bite marks, bruises and non-permanent tattoos with my fancy ink pens.
Guess that whole if I can take care of a cat and a dog a kid will be a piece of cake thingy went out the window. Cat and Dogs will never learn Algebra, your kids will. Speaking out the window, it is always a good thing to check outside your kids bedroom windows. You’ll be amazed at what you find. The candlestick was the most interesting item.
The learning curve for the mistake child is steep. It usually is painful physically (Dad’s should always keep their legs together on the couch) and emotionally. I found myself over the years saying “Shouldn’t have done that” or “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that” and the “Why did I teach her that?”
Yet there are the joys with the first, that although you can have with the second, third and fourth (any more than four you are just asking for it), that are unique. These things you do with your first child you will find yourself saying to those who follow, “Of course it’s fun, your sister loves it!” Then watch your second child cry as you leave the rollercoaster as her big sister giggles in delight. Of course all the while you will be cursing yourself and waiting for the ‘Worst Parent Ever’ prize committee to run up to you handing you the “Scarred Your Child For Life” certificate.
Every parent makes mistakes. It truly is Par for the course. Yet the first mistakes, the first ‘oh crap’ and ‘are you okay? that’s…a.) going to leave a bruise b.) heal in a couple of days c.) polka dots and plaids match d.) going to get me in trouble with mom’, days are going to happen. The big part of the mistake child is forgiveness, of yourself, not the kid. Forgiveness is the key, that and ice cream.
Oh and always tell Mom, she’s going to find out anyways. And well polka dots and plaids in kindergarten are forgivable, except on Picture Day.
(The Mistake Child’s mistake child. Ben Ben)