The Blessing and Curse of Raising Intelligent Children
(Today's blog entry is a college assignment written by my husband, Ethan. )
What does one do with a sugared-up toddler after returning home from a Halloween party? Ideally, it is put to bed after a bit more hassle than usual and a little later than normal. Sometimes, parents believe they succeed in putting a child to bed but the lack of interruption merely means that the trouble has found a different target. Raising intelligent children is both a blessing and a curse.
We returned home from a Trunk or Treat at church, where instead of decorating one’s house and having neighborhood people come expecting candy, one drives to the church building, decorates the trunk, and have slightly different people come expecting candy. The children were allowed time to perform their candy ritual. In it, the kids dump all of their candy together and then divvy it up making trades for things they like with things they dislike. After the sorting ritual comes the ingesting ritual, followed by the hyper ritual, which is, in turn, followed by the stealing and fighting ritual. Paralleling the completion of these youthful rites are the parents’ rituals of begging, thanking, ingesting, and then yelling at everyone to brush their teeth and get into bed. Once the family observed these sacrosanct candy ordinances, the parents looked forward to some adult time.
Eager to reclaim a portion of the day for ourselves, our frustration mounted through repeated interruptions. We felt that the children had their fun and the time was now ours, having already put the toddler to bed a number of times. Overhead footsteps raced between bedroom and bathroom. Father yelled to the second floor that it was bedtime, so children should be in bed. Mother visited one room to provide more reading materials. Such was the experience as we sat down for a movie. The youngest child, a toddler at the time, continued to slink down the stairs to the landing, which forced us to pause the show each time and reacquaint her with her bed. A movie of two hours could have lasted three hours at that pace. However, after a period of uninterrupted viewing and not having heard anything from the toddler in a while, we settled into childfree mode. Little did we know, we had simply diverted the youngest child’s attention, and a completely new scenario was just waiting to pounce on our beautiful moment. The dam broke when the toddler clomped down the stairs and said, “You has canny? You has chokkit?” The specificity of the greeting both galled and surprised us at the same time. Had we not allowed time for eating candy before bed? What would ever possess this child to come downstairs, hours after we put her to bed, to request more sweets? We resigned ourselves to our fate and entertained the interloper until we successfully reinserted it into its nighttime habitat.
The next day we learned the rest of the story. As everyone prepared for church, we related to the children the sad but humorous tale of our candy-seeking invader. We recounted the cute but oddly specific introduction, “You has canny? You has chokkit?” of the previous night.
To our astonishment, the oldest child said, “I know, I told her you guys had candy and chocolate for her.” I locked eyes with my wife. A pregnant pause hung while we fought down our desire to strangle him. Through clenched teeth, we pressed for why he would say such a thing. The oldest child rejoined with his harrowing assault by a relentless toddler. After mom and dad made continued forays to the down stairs undesirable, the youngest child found a new, more pliable target. As he lay in bed trying to sleep, the toddler climbed on and smacked him, pulled his hair, and urged him to get back out of bed. The prior evening, while the adults enjoyed a sweet interlude, our oldest child benignly absorbed his sibling’s onslaught. Out of desperation, he finally asked his attacker if she wanted some treats. When she responded in the affirmative, he informed the toddler that, downstairs mom and dad had candy and chocolate. The ruse worked, and the aggressive indigent once again descended the stairs, finally allowing him to sleep.
The trick with trying to raise intelligent, adaptable children is eventually they will become intelligent and adaptable. Throwing parents under the bus is definitely on the radar when a prowling toddler with a sugar rush is involved. As adults, we were displeased with the interruptions during what we considered ‘our time.’ As parents, we were forced to laugh and admire the ingenuity of our child.