The other day I was talking to MyFriendJen about how weird it is that one of our parental responsibilities is to figure out when our kids are hungry, tired, or need to use the bathroom. It seems so obvious to us as adults — “Hey, my tummy is grumbling, my mouth is salivating, and I really want to just stand in front the fridge staring endlessly at it! What could this mean?” Yet, our children have no idea what their physical needs are. Their lack of self-awareness is dazzling. As a result, I spend a large part of my day keeping track of when everyone last ate, and slept, and peed. I know them better than they know themselves.
Whenever one of my kids is cranky, the answer is almost always that they are hungry or tired. They never believe me when I tell them that, though. Yesterday Captain Jelly Belly was having a complete meltdown/freak out here at home and I suddenly realized that it was an hour past his usual lunchtime and he hadn’t eaten anything yet, so Bingo! I knew what was wrong. But when I told him he really, really needed to just sit down and EAT THE SANDWICH, he swore up and down he did not feel like eating.
Eventually I had to threaten him with being sent to his room unless he ate, so he choose to sit and eat (sniffling and declaring me a Bad Mommy the whole time), until eventually he finished his sandwich, and voila! Totally new person. Magically transformed into happy, cheerful Captain.
I still think he has no idea what happened there, though. I’m sure he thinks it’s purely a coincidence that being force-fed a sandwich happened at the exact same time as the disappearance of all his personal crises.
We’re having a very small sixth birthday celebration for the Captain next weekend. He wanted to do all the same stuff as last year — namely, go to the KidsZone, which is an indoor playplace near us. However, we told him we couldn’t do it this year because trying to organize rides for all the kids to the Zone and back was too complex (we have to come back home to eat, as the KidsZone doesn’t allow outside food, and all the inside food isn’t safe for the Captain). He really, really wanted to do it, though, so eventually we told him we could manage it if he only invited ONE kid. He chose this really nice girl in his class, Lady G. They are best friends and play together every day, and it is strictly platonic — both of them would totally barf if you suggested otherwise.
Anyway, yesterday Lady G asked the Captain what he would like for his birthday. And of course the Captain says, “I don’t know.” Then Lady G says, “My mommy told me to ask you what kinds of things you play with at home.”
And the Captain, who spends 100% of his time talking about Star Wars, or playing Star Wars action figures, or playing Star Wars lego, or playing Star Wars video game, or drawing pictures of Star Wars characters, or reading books about Star Wars, says this:
“I usually just spend my time wandering around looking at stuff and trying to think of what to play with.”
Now that is a guy in touch with his wants and needs. Memo to his future wife: Yes, he was always like that.
I think I finally understand why my mother was still calling me in university to tell me to remember to eat. Apparently, a parent can never, ever assume any degree of self-awareness in their kids.