Parenting is riddled with unexplained phenomena. Sometimes it feels like you’re in an alternate universe, where the rules of logic no longer apply. Is it science fiction? An unfavorable alignment in the cosmos? Aliens? Karma? A full moon? I’ve been at this parenting game for a while now, yet I still have a long list of unsolved mysteries.

For example, I’ll never understand why, as a baby, my younger son always filled his diaper with the biggest, messiest poop in history, exactly two minutes before we needed to leave the house. How did he know?

I’m also mystified by the existence of baby clothes labelled “24 months” as well as “size 2”. Isn’t that the same amount of time? I suspect retailers are cashing in on the fact that toddler parents are severely sleep-deprived and thus unable to do basic math.

Speaking of fashion, I cannot comprehend why my kids, who have drawers and closets filled with clothes, choose to wear the same three t-shirts in an ongoing rotation.

I’m equally baffled as to why they seem to think that a stylish leather bench in the front entryway is the perfect place to put their sopping wet mittens.

And please, someone explain why their pants always end up in the laundry with one leg correct and one leg inside-out.

Strange but true: the moment I drop everything I’m doing to help my son find an urgently needed Lego piece, he inevitably says: “Never mind, I found it.” Why didn’t I wait just five more seconds?

Every day, I’m perplexed by the way my teenager can recite every result of every Super Bowl and World Series ever played, yet he is incapable of remembering to hang up the bath mat after he showers.

On the topic of brain power, I’m continually surprised by my kids’ remarkable creativity when complaining about my cooking. Some recent responses: “This chicken is making my arm hurt,” “These beans are too mangled to eat,” and “I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to yams.”

I have yet to figure out how my kids dream up their bargaining tactics. A recent kitchen-table negotiation began with my son saying: “Okay, how about this: if I eat this salmon, I get 15 extra minutes of screen time.” I passed on his generous offer – and made a mental note to start saving for his law school tuition.

This next one goes under the heading “Are you kidding me…?” Every year, I put gargantuan amounts of effort into choosing the perfect Christmas and birthday gifts for my kids. But, when someone asks them what they got, they typically respond “I don’t remember” or – even worse – “socks.”

Inexplicably, I continue to operate under the delusion that I will, someday, make myself a nice mug of tea and sit down to enjoy it. Why else would I keep turning on my electric kettle, even though I never return to it? The automatic shut-off feature was most certainly invented by a frazzled, forgetful, caffeine-starved mom.

And why, oh why, do my children treat me like a walking garbage receptacle? Empty snack package? Give it to Mom. Gum wrapper? Give it to Mom. Crumpled, disgusting, used tissue? Yep, that’s for Mom. It is not a glamorous life.

Finally, one of life’s great unanswered questions: at what age is a young athlete able to drink a Gatorade or eat a Freezie without dripping it down the front of their uniform? Because both my teen and tween have yet to reach it.

Despite what The X-Files may encourage us to believe, I don’t think the truth is out there. It seems that parenting is simply a series of bizarre, mind-boggling experiences that we will never fully understand. Somehow, acknowledging that it’s a giant mystery actually helps it make more sense. Pass the stain remover.


Kristi York is a freelance writer and mom of two sports-loving boys. Her work has been published by ParentsCanada, Running Room, ParticipACTION and The Costco Connection.

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