Well, he loves sugar, I say, so some days I think he only eats fruit snacks. But he does love salad. He asks for it by name, and he will eat it every night.
Yeah, for now! she says. He’ll eat it now. Just you wait. You won’t get him to eat anything besides mac n’ cheese. Just you wait.
Gosh, I say, just when I thought the tantrums were over with him, they come whipping back around. It’s like he’s possessed.
Oh, just you wait, she says. Just you wait until he’s a teenager and he’s bigger than you and he’s slamming doors in your face and taking your car keys and going places without telling you. Just you wait. You’ll wish you were dealing with tantrums.
We’re struggling with mean girls this year, I say. I know it’s happening at a younger and younger age. But, first grade? Yikes.
Oh. Just wait, she says. Just wait until she wants a cell phone and you’re dealing with cyber bullying and boys and texting while driving. Just you wait.
Ugh. Have I done this? Handed out a “just you wait?” I’m sure I have. What was I thinking? Was it an ill-attempt to connect that turned into a one-upsmanship of which stage of parenting is the hardest (spoiler alert: all of them?). Or did I do it to see superior?
And when it was done to me, was it done as a warning? Well, if so, it’s a useless one because these kids are already here so whatever is coming down the pipe isn’t anything I can control. Was it said to me in frustration? I know I’ve been there. So burnt out by little people that I’ll take any excuse to fire off a comment about the trials and tribulations of young children and how awful it can be.
But, you know what no one says?
Just wait until you watch her learn to swim and she swims the entire length of the pool, freestyle. It will take your breath away. Not because you think she’s destined to be an Olympian. But because you’ve wiped her butt and taught her limits and doled our consequences and held your ground during every miserable tantrum and carried that limp body raging with a fever into the emergency room and held her while she got her first cast.
And. Look. There she is. Swimming. By herself. She’s like, a formed person. Well, almost. But you see a glimpse.
And those babies that didn’t sleep through the night turned into toddlers and preschoolers that, more often than not, do sleep through the night. And sometimes they are sweet! And say cute things! And eat salad!
A few months ago my best friend of over 15 years had her first baby. This is your chance, I told myself. This is your chance to change the narrative. No more just your waits. No more warnings. Because, yeah, kids are challenging and tiring and sometimes awful. That’s boring. We all know that part.
So I said he’s perfect. Because he is. I said you’re doing a great job. Because she is. I said, yep, this is hard. Because it is.
I held him for her so she could eat her lunch, that day, the day she had her baby. I smiled at him. I smiled at her. Full of love for a woman I’ve known almost half my life and a baby I met a few moments ago.
Just you wait. The best is yet to come.