When he got older, it still seemed pretty easy. The terrible twos were not horrible, teething passed pretty quickly, and his stubborn little personality came out. Potty training was tough, but we made it through it. And I still thought I had a good handle on the whole parenting thing. Just keep him from coloring on walls or swallowing the loose coins on the counter, hold his hands up and down steps, teach him to say "Momma" and we are good to go. Right...
Now that I have a little mini-me on my hands, I am at a total loss of control of the reins on a daily basis. He is so very, very smart. He can talk circles around me before I know what is going on. And the way he thinks about things is so complex and complicated that I cannot begin to keep up with him. He is literal, argumentative, and thinks he is right about everything and knows more than the adults he encounters in life (including doctors and teachers).
And I wouldn't trade him for all the chocolate in the world. But that doesn't mean that I immediately know the answers to his questions about why gravity works or how tornadoes form or what that weird rash on his leg is. No, I do not know how to fix that broken toy or how to get past the boss in the video game that he is playing. No, I do not know why the mean kids picked him to torment or how to get that piece of hair to lay down. No, no no... I don't know!!
He looks up at me with those innocent eyes full of faith and complete trust and I feel like a complete failure. If my memory serves me right, my parents always had the answers or solutions to everything automatically. I never remember them telling me, "I don't know." HOW DID THEY DO IT?????
I don't know that I am ready to be the one protecting Little Man from all the dangers of the world. I still want to be the one being protected. At the beach this weekend, I found myself scanning the waters for the bubble tops of jellyfish floating on the water and making sure that Little Man did not get carried away by the currents. That's my dad's job, not mine. He was always the one who carried me out onto the water in my float and made sure that nothing scary got to me or that anything bad happened to me. I felt completely, utterly safe with him. How am I supposed to make Little Man feel like that? I don't know how. How did my dad look every direction at once? How did he keep from blinking or looking away that one second that the current could have grabbed me and taken me under?
Well, I know he has a lot of faith and a helping hand from a few guardian angels. And I hope that I will do as good of a job as my parents did. I am winging it and making it up as I go along, just like I do with everything else. No, I don't know all of the answers, but Uncle Smartypants is just a phone call or Skype chat away and he does know the answers to 99% of Little Man's questions. And I may not be able to look everywhere at once, but I have Deputy D who has really good cop instincts and is pretty good at protecting people. And there is always Google image search and WebMD to find out what that weird rash is. And when that doesn't work, I can just text a picture to my mom. So perhaps I am in a pretty good position after all.