Sheep in Wolves Clothing

July 24, 2006

There is a strange creature lurking in the world. I assure you, even if it hasn’t invaded your home, there is one prowling in your neighborhood. Sly and mysterious, unpredictable and wild, cunning and manipulative, this beast strikes fear in the heart of all those whose who are even remotely intelligent and preys on those who are foolish enough to let their guards down for one small second. Oh yes, this wild thing is out there and it answers to the name of:

A six year old child.

Male or female, I’ve learned it makes no difference. A 6 year old is an entity all of their own. They defy definition and can make even the strongest adult drop to their knees and ask why oh why nearly 7 years ago they didn’t just take a cold shower and go to sleep. Alone.

There are 2 of these things in my life that I see on a very regular basis: my own son, Duck, and Ta, the daughter of my best friend, JP. These two creatures are best friends – and mortal enemies. Well, to be honest, they’re mostly friends and frankly, they are probably in love as I see them hugging each other and whispering, “I love you” into each others small ears. They do that, that is, in between moments of, “DUCK, you are NOT my friend anymore,” and “Ta, if you don’t leave me alone, I don’t know what I’m gonna do!”

For the record, JP understands children a little bit more than I do – she has a masters degree in early education and she works as a teacher. She knows all there is to know about childhood development and I’m so grateful. There are times that I swear she was put on this planet to remind me that these little people that we intentionally brought into this world a few years ago really were not born with triple 6’s on the back of their necks and they honestly are not out to suck every bit of our intellect and rationale out of our bodies.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Frankly, I think it might take a village to keep mothers from going apeshit every 12 seconds for 18 years of her life. It’s not that these 6 year olds are bad – they aren’t! But they are confusing.

B and I took the boys down to my friend’s house yesterday so B could work on a project with J, the husband of my best friend. As our men installed a dropped ceiling in the basement, JP and I sat out on the glider in the backyard and drank margaritas while all 5 of our combined children played in the pool. At one point, Ta got pissed off and grabbed her little sister and made some sort of sound that can only be described as half wolf, half garbage disposal. It took my breath away and I looked at JP with eyes as big as moon pies – and then the biggest smile spread across my face and I laughed out loud.

“Holy Shit, JP, Duck does that, too! This makes me happier than Charlie Sheen at a hooker Outlet Mall!! I had no idea that other kids did that – I thought Duck was the only one!!”

At which JP took a swig of her Margarita and said, “See, they don’t have a behavior disorder! It’s just developmental!”

Well, hell. I can drink to that!

The problem in parenting, for me, comes in that I have no idea what to expect from my 6 year old. I completely understand what to expect from my 4 year old because I have already gone through all of it before, 2 years prior. I have no idea what is normal, what is behavioral, what is developmental, and what is just the little quirks that make Duck “Duck.” This is a huge problem because it means one very critical thing: he’s always going to be one step ahead of me. I don’t have any idea what makes him tick and he’s equally as confused as to why I don’t know those things! C’mon, Mom, get with the program! Don’t you know that this is what kids do? Um, no, Duck, I don’t.

It’s certainly the hardest job on the planet, this parenting gig. It’s not for wimps and if you cannot hold your own, you might as well get whatever tubes you have clipped right now ’cause you’ll be behind from day one and will never catch up.

They’re intense. They’re conniving. They make plans and plots. They scream and moan and whine and shout and stomp and demand and rage and pout and cry and criticize and control and growl and groan.

“You just gotta love ’em through it,” JP says.

Yeah. Remind me of that when my 6 year old beast has his fangs out and is looking at my main artery.

But then, after the work was done and the long drive home was finished, I walked my sleepy animal to his room and tucked him in.

“Come lay with me a minute, Mama.” And I did.

He held on tight and I looked into those piercing blue eyes, brushed the long, long blond hair from his forehead, and I melted into a thousand little puddles.

“Mama, I’m so proud of you. You’re a rockin’ lady, alright. You’re my favorite thing. Good night, I love you, I’ll see you in the morning.”

And as I walked out of his room, I paused and looked back at his bed. There, on the floor, was a wolf’s suit with fur and fangs and claws. But in that big boy bed with the Spiderman sheets slept the sweetest, most loving, cuddliest woolly sheep that ever lived.


I can love him through anything.


  1. My 6 year old, informed me just Saturday, as serious as a heart attack, that we needed a baby elephant. And since we live in an apartment, we will be keeping said baby elephant with Grandma and Grandpa J, b/c they have a big yard and the lake.

  2. 7 year old boys are even more confusing. They just get more confusing. Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde is what we call him in our house. One minute he’s playing nicely with his sister. The next minute he’s slugging her. One minute he’s having an adult conversation with you. The next minute he’s making that horrible sound that you describe. Kimd

  3. I love this.
    Sometimes I forget that Duck and Filbert are the same age.
    They are such similar creatures.

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