By Susan Buttenwieser
Making a behavior chart so three-year-old will put on her socks without having a meltdown.
Using the chart.
Chasing someone else’s toddler in the playground who stole your daughter’s beloved cracked turtle bucket and refused to give it back. Even when asked nicely.
Tussling with someone else’s toddler once you caught her, both of you gripping tightly onto the bucket handle.
Saying Duckie in front of people outside immediate family members.
Cruising the princess aisle in K-Mart. During work hours.
Purchasing princess bling.
Owning a Barbie after pre-child claims that you would never, ever let your daughter play with them. Or watch princess movies. Or dress up like a princess. And never, ever have Bratz dolls.
Owning so many Bratz dolls, accessories and clip-on shoe/feet that they fill a giant plastic storage container.
Walking down the sidewalk with your daughter dressed in a Barbie wedding dress, the only way she would agree to leave the apartment after long rainy day inside.
Tearing up at princess movies.
Tearing up when daughters wear matching Gap pajamas after their bath.
Tearing up at their dance performances.
Tearing up at everything.
Shouting vagina on D train platform when pre-kindergartener asks what part of a woman’s body a baby comes out of, but then had trouble hearing the answer over screeching subway tires, even though the word was repeated six times.
Placing infant in Lost & Found milk crate on top of broken goggles and hair-laden bathing caps during Family Swim at the Y because strollers aren’t allowed in the pool area and older daughter needs supervision in the water.
Placing infant in laundry basket amongst dirty underwear and socks and ignoring her while cooking dinner, making brownies for school bake sale, helping older daughter with 100th Day of School art project which involves gluing 100 pairs of googly eyes onto 100 balls of cotton.
The six weeks of taking your toddler to the playground with her left arm in a cast.
One daughter hurling a full pint of milk onto pizza restaurant floor at the exact same moment that other daughter has sudden case of explosive diarrhea.
Every time they are rude in public.
Every time they are rude in private.
Every time they totally lose their shit.
Every time you totally lose your shit.
Every time you find yourself inside a Buy Buy Baby.
Allowing your daughters to eat Froot Loops, so unhealthy that Kellogg’s can’t even be bothered to use correct spelling, as if to speed up the brain-damaging process.
The many hours spent only in conversations with people under the age of two.
Losing the ability to speak to other adults.
Losing the ability to be an adult.
Susan Buttenwieser’s writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Teachers & Writers magazine and other publications. She teaches creative writing in New York City public schools and with incarcerated women.