I wipe snot off the wall and proceed to scrape the remaining crusty boogers with my finger nail. This is what my evenings have become now that I have five-year-old twins. I have no time to do DNA analyses to determine which urchin is guilty. I still have to pack lunches, reply to half a dozen birthday party invitations, and locate William’s left shoe which, according to him, is “somewhere outside.”
No wonder then, when I finally flop in front of the television, I am incapable of watching a documentary about clubbing baby seals or trafficking children, the type of pre-parenting programming I once viewed. Educational TV once gave me anecdotes to offer to flat dinner party conversations around tables without high chairs. Now though, like many overwrought parents, I surf aimlessly, pausing occasionally to watch the drama that can be found only on Jerry Springer and reality TV. Each night, I think I’ll break this habit and go back to documentaries. But, like a gambling addict playing one game of blackjack, I flip to a reality show…and watch just a little bit.
Many wasted evenings later, I’ve learned to justify my addiction to flipping through reality shows. Like it or not, watching snippets of reality TV has taught me a lot about parenting. In fact, for most of us, it’s all the training we get. And I’m not talking about those nanny shows that preach time-out techniques. I’m talking about trashy, reality TV that’s akin to boogers-on-the-wall in its level of sophistication.
From Jon and Kate Plus 8, I learned that one set of twins is enough. Seriously, if Jon and Kate had stopped after their first set of multiples, no one would know who the Gosselins are today. Jon and Kate Plus 2 doesn’t have the same euphonic quality, so no network would cover this, not even your local cable TV programmer who thinks a change in décor at a nail salon constitutes a story. I’d be better off without this show, just like I’m pretty sure I’m better off without my own army of children.
My motto for parenting has come from Survivor: Outwit, Outlast, Outplay. Isn’t that the maxim for parents the world over – to make it past your child’s bedtime while maintaining a shred of sanity? The nanosecond the postnatal-endorphin-rush ends, it’s all about survival. If you have twins, they form an alliance around age two, spurring each other on in contests such as let’s-smear-our-poo-all-over-the-wall when we should be napping. Once they enter preschool-era of no naps, the balance of power shifts permanently, as the little urchins seems to have immunity from every form of discipline that’s legal. I haven’t yet resorted to voting either of my children off the island – I’m saving that one for the teen years.
Stay tuned for more Reality Show Parenting Skills, coming your way Wednesday, the same day Toddlers & Tiaras (insert gag reflex here) resumes its winter season.