Being the firstborn child can be both a blessing and a curse. Firstborn children are usually independent, strong willed and natural leaders…and guinea pigs. Face it, your firstborn has the greatest learning curve of any of your other children – you learn what not to do through the experience of your firstborn, so that your second, third, etc children have a better chance for survival. I know my parents learned a lot with me as a firstborn – always make sure your child isn’t standing in front of the swings if you decide to go really high or you might kick her across the playground; never chase her little fingers with the vacuum cleaner teasing “I’m gonna getcha!” because eventually you will; and always verify there is indeed not a child riding on your shoulders before walking through a doorway. These are all valuable lessons that saved my younger brother from pain and suffering, all learned at my expense.
On the flip side though, firstborns are trendsetters. My mother-in-law wanted to be called Granny by her grandchildren just like her sister was by hers, but Ross as the firstborn grandchild called her Nanny instead and so now she is known as Nanny to all 7 of her grandchildren to this day. And a lot of “mom rules” – you know what I’m talking about, those nonnegotiable policies that are written in stone because you’re gonna make sure THAT never happens again – are also made into law because of something the firstborn did. In our family, for example, we do NOT go to Toys R Us. Those who know our family well know why and are probably laughing hysterically at the memory of why we have that rule, but that story is for another day. Today I want to tell the story behind two other “mom rules” that at first don’t seem related to each other, but once you hear the story, it makes perfect sense and may actually cause you to make a mom rule of your own. The two rules? 1. No balloons in the car and 2. No chocolate milk in restaurants.
When Ross was four and Gracie was only 10 pounds of spunk and cuteness, we would have a weekly lunch date with Michael on Fridays. Those little outings with Daddy were something we looked forward to all week long. On one particular lunch date, we chose to go to Macado’s. They have a huge sandwich menu, the kids meals were cheap and Ross would get crayons and paper and a balloon to entertain him while we waited for our food to arrived. Ross really wanted chocolate milk, but when it was time to order, the waitress said they only had white milk. He pulled the oldest trick in the book, poking out his lower lip and fluttering those mile-long eyelashes at her and in no time, she was at the bar mixing chocolate syrup into his milk just for him. She even gave him extra chocolate because he was so sweet (insert wink and a smile). Ross loved it so much, he slurped it down before his food came and had to get a refill to go with his meal.
After lunch, I loaded the kids into the car, kissed my hubby goodbye as he went back to work and headed to Gracie’s well child checkup. Ross was being really good, talking to his sister to entertain her while we drove and holding his balloon in his lap so it wouldn’t obstruct my view through the rearview mirror. As we waited at the stoplight just across the street from the doctor’s office, I heard the sound every mother dreads – someone in the backseat was throwing up. I whirled around to check on the baby and saw Ross puking all over the top of the balloon in his lap. And then he let it go, just as the light turned green. I rolled down the window and beat furiously at the balloon, trying to get it out of the car as quickly as possible as it bounced around above us, vomit dripping from every spot it touched. I somehow made it through the intersection and into the parking lot, where I whipped into a parking space and flung open the door of the car. The balloon drifted away, the baby began to cry, and Ross lifted up a little hand covered in puke crying “My balloon! Mommy, my balloon!”. At that moment I vowed to never, ever allow balloons in the car or chocolate milk at restaurants ever again.
Now whenever we go out to eat or leave a Harris Teeter and one of my littles asks for a balloon, Ross sighs and shakes his head and says, “I’m sorry girls. I ruined it for all of you.” And they all beg Mommy to tell them the story again of Ross and the balloon and the chocolate milk.
As always, comments make my day!! I’d love to hear your “mom rules” and the stories behind them.