My 7-year-old daughter stared at me in disbelief.
“You got Kitty light up shoes?” Caroline was incredulous as she watched her two-year old sister jump up and down, setting off lights on the sides of her Disney Princess shoes.
“You said we could NEVER have light up shoes!” Now the tone was a bit angrier. “Why did SHE get light up shoes?!”
You know the shoes I’m talking about. Sneakers that light up every time you walk on them. You can see them in a dark movie theater, they always come with some annoying cartoon character plastered on them and usually cost double.
When Caroline was old enough to see how cool light up shoes were, I put my non-lit up foot down. Nope. No one needs his or her feet to light up with every step. When Josh came along, it was his dream to have Thomas the train shoes or Toy Story or whatever light up shoes. There was begging. I held firm, because of course, I had set a stupid parent rule in my head. No swearing, hitting or light up shoes.
But here comes the third child. She picked out Princess shoes at the store. Ok, I say. Princess sneakers are fine. She put them on.
“Oh!” Kitty squealed. “My shoeses lighted up!!”
Sigh. I was in trouble. Trouble if I took them off her feet. And trouble if I came home with them.
After years of law and order, I caved under the pressure of the third child. By number three I’ve realized:
1. Parental patience is thin
2. Parental perfection is unrealistic
3. The third will cry if not included
When my first was born, she played with educational toys, only watched Sesame Street and didn’t eat candy. I was determined to do this parent thing right. Then came number two. Things were a little more lax, but they didn’t know who Sponge Bob was, rarely ate at McDonald’s and had no idea how to play video games.
The third one came, and it all went to hell. Frazzled from meeting the needs of three children at different ages, my standards have dropped. Significantly. In turn, I have a two-year old who can play “Pac Man”, sings songs from “High School Musical” and wants an American Girl Doll. She manipulates tiny Legos and has taken an unnatural interest in “Star Wars.” She recently dazzled a crowd at the hair salon singing Darth Vader’s theme song with a lollipop hanging out of her mouth. She snuck up on her sister the other day and said, breathing heavily in sister’s ear, “Luke, I am your daddy.”
I find myself just watching her and shaking my head. Like, whose child is this? And when is her mother going to do something? One person who takes great glee in this, is my mother.
“That’s what happens,” she said recently. “The third becomes a lot smarter a lot quicker.”
She ought to know. I was the third child. Boy, am I in trouble.