I know Pokemon Go is so two months ago, and I’ve pretty much given up after getting stuck at 121 on my pokedex, but that’s ok because one can learn things from playing ridiculous time-wasting games that make you cluster around crowded void decks like you’re part of a zombie apocalypse.
For example, parenting can be a lot like Pokemon Go in that you spend a lot of your time running around chasing down adorable little monsters and feeding them raspberries. Especially this one. This one will do anything for raspberries. Or strawberries. Basically any kind of berries/food in general.
Occasionally, you take photos of them when they’re spotted in the wild.
And the battles I have to engage in with these guys??? Sleep battles, food battles, shower battles, come-back-here-and-wear-your-pants battles, DON’T-EAT-CAKE-SCRAPS-FROM-THE-FLOOR BATTLES, too many battles.
I will not speak of the number of times I wished I could stuff them in a ball and put them in my pocket, which is like every single time we have to leave the house because I’ll be all “GUYS, HUSTLE!!” and they will be taking turns to show me their most exceptional sloth impressions.
Clock wipe 10 minutes later and I’m still at the door yelling “Kids, we’re late! Can you guys move any slower???” and they’ll be like “WHY YES, YES WE CAN!!”
But the most valuable thing I learnt is that there’s no shortcut to getting good at this. As tedious as it sounds, the only way to get better is by getting in there every single day and knocking out those experience points in order to level up and attain grand master status.
<<To become a grand master at parenting, go get them EXP points.>>
Like all those hours and hours spent bouncing a fussy infant till I can’t feel my arms. Guess what? Levelled up.
And all those nights spent sponging a feverish toddler, worriedly running my hands across his warm forehead all night to make sure he’s not burning up too badly. I’ve done this so many times I can tell with startling accuracy a baby’s body temperature without even checking the thermometer. What’s that? Levelled up.
All the times I had to catch a baby’s vomit with my hands/tshirt/other available body parts so the bedsheets don’t get stained. Uh huh, levelled up.
All the times I lost it at the kids and then felt really bad for being a high-strung crazy parent and had to apologise for my temporary lapse of self-control…levellel up big time.
All those fights I had to mediate and all the tantrums I had to suffer through and all the discipline I had to dole out, each one of them was worth one level at least.
Few nights ago, I decided that I was going to put all 3 of the youngest kids to bed at the same time. I’ve never been successful at it but I was feeling ambitious so I breastfed baby Hayley with her nestled in my left arm while Theo snuggled up on my right chest and Finn found a comfy spot on the far right holding my hand. IT WAS GLORIOUS.
For all of 3 seconds.
Suddenly Theo got really mad with Finn for lightly touching his ear, and Finn was like “that doesn’t even hurt!!” Some screaming later, the two boys decided to do the pyjama party dance in the dark, which led to Theo falling off the bed and bruising his bum. Finn thought it was hilarious (which it was a little), but that made Theo even more upset, which made the baby upset, and there was just a lot of commotion going on.
It was 10.20pm and from experience, these ridiculous babies were at least an hour out from falling asleep.
The me 3 years ago would have gotten increasingly agitated as I watched the minutes of my sacred quiet evening mommy time disappear into the darkness.
But not the levelled up me. Levelled up me knows that these babies were going to destroy my designated unwinding time whether I liked it or not. Levelled up me knows how to deal. So I turned on the lights, put on some pyjama party music, secured the perimeter with pillows and we all had an epic dance off on the bed. It still took about an hour of dancing, somersaulting, taking turns to carry baby Hayley, and climbing up and down the bed before they all finally fell asleep.
As they drifted off to sleep in my arms, I thought about how much we’ve evolved as parents. When we started out, all we had were a ton of parenting theories that we acquired from books – some worked for us, others didn’t. It took us 8 years of walking through this every day, dinging one level after the next, figuring out what worked for our kids and what didn’t, to get to where we are today.
Not quite grand master status, but we’re getting there!