Aspen, my third child, was jumping on the bed when she smacked her lip on a dresser. She was 2. It bled a lot, so my wife took her to the ER. I was at work when I got the call, so I left early, drove my 30-minute commute, and went directly to our local hospital.
When I got there, my wife and all three kids were in the waiting room. My two oldest, Tristan and Norah, were quietly sitting in their pajamas, watching a show on an iPad. Aspen, on the other hand, was crawling on the waiting room furniture, her upper lip the size of grape, dried blood down her shirt, my wife following her around, arms out, as if she were about to catch a cat leaping from a tree.
Basically, Aspen was being that embarrassing child who causes strangers to wonder why her parents can’t keep her under control. And considering how freely she was climbing on the furniture, she didn’t learn a thing from smacking her lip.
Ultimately, Aspen didn’t need stitches. But considering the amount of blood on her shirt, and on my wife’s shirt, I can see why my wife took her to the ER. I never questioned that. What I did question, however, was why my daughter was still climbing on furniture.
My wife and I are big advocates of natural consequences. We don’t let our kids go hog wild, but we also have seen the benefits of letting our children have just enough slack to learn a valuable lesson on their own.
For whatever reason, with our youngest, that philosophy isn’t working, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty exhausted and frustrated by this.
I don’t want to turn this into a religious post, but I am going to talk about God right now because I think he’s behind all this. For whatever reason I just assumed that God would bless us with an easy child for our third and final kid. I think a lot of parents make this assumption.
He saved the best for last.
More or less, he gave us a wild raccoon with pigtails jacked up on coffee. She’s adorable, no doubt about it. She has blonde hair that curls just at the end to give her that Americana look. And her voice is somewhere between Peppa Pig and a songbird. Her smile is sweet but mischievous.
Ultimately, though, she doesn’t care about a thing.
She’s the child running to the pulpit at church each Sunday with her dad chasing her (hoping to catch her right before she slams her little hands down on the organ keys). She’s the child ripping at the artificial plants at the doctor’s office, or sneaking away to pound the computer keys and mess up some poor patient’s file. She’s the child that, regardless of how far I park the cart away from the grocery store shelf, still manages to grab at a bottle of spaghetti sauce and smash it to the ground.
The day after we took her to the ER, she broke our TV with a water bottle. Then she laughed at me. Laughed at my pain.
She never stops moving, and I am incredibly tired.
I mean, I love her. But honestly, if she’d been my first kid, I’d have seriously reconsidered having any more children.
But when I think about that, I suppose it all makes sense. And once again, I’m left to think about God. Perhaps it’s all random. Maybe there is no higher power. Perhaps it’s just fate that I would end up with two pretty easy kids first, and one wild maniac of a child last.
I will leave that up to you to decide for yourself. But in my mind, it almost seems too organized. Too perfectly planned. I think God knew that if we had the wild child first, we’d be done. Finished. We’d have thrown in the towel because the thought of having one more crazy, wild kid would be too much.
So, they came to me in the right order. Part of me feels pissed off about this. It feels like I was abused in some way. It feels like I was bamboozled with two easy ones, and then bam… Aspen.
But another part of me, the more rational part, realizes that if I’d stopped at one, I’d have never met the others. I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to teach my eldest how to kick a soccer ball. I’d never have held him in the night. I wouldn’t have looked into his rich blue eyes and felt nothing but love. And I’d never have seen my middle-child’s gap-toothed grin, or felt her sneak up behind me for one of her ninja hugs. And that would have been a shame, because I love all of my kids.
I’ve often heard the phrase: “Things work out the way they are supposed to.” That can be a hard one to hear when you are faced with bad news. But in this case, I think it’s incredibly accurate.