Once upon a time, there was a kingdom.
Within this kingdom lived the people of Stywom (Survived Three Year olds With Out Murder). They were a relatively happy bunch, sharing a camaraderie that only those who have survived the Hellacious Threes could understand. As any seasoned parent knows, the “terrible twos” are a myth. At age two, a child asserts his independence. At age three, he learns to argue. Obviously, someone coined the phrase “terrible twos” before her child celebrated his third birthday.
So the people of Stywom were an honored bunch. They wore their battle scars proudly, and the mothers of Stywom never took off their bungee harnesses, for at any given moment, they may feel the need to jump off a cliff. The bungee cords were handy for bringing them back. The children of Stywom were smart, well-adjusted, and insanely energetic, which of course, was entirely normal. They often, but not always, remembered to use manners and inside voices, but mostly, they ran around like wild animals. This too was completely normal. The wise parents of Stywom had come to terms with this.
Outside the gates of Stywom, parents of under-threes stood, cradling their cherubs, clucking their tongues. “I’m so glad my child will never be so badly behaved,” they told each other. “I have a great many parenting books that could save those inept mothers and fathers,” they said. The bold ones actually offered parenting suggestions to the parents of Stywom, and the really bold would break the unspoken cardinal rule of parenting: Never, ever discipline another parent’s child – especially when you are not yet a Stywomian.
(Little did they know that within the vast kingdom of Stywom, there was one book that stood in higher honor than all the rest. It was a collection of parenting wisdom from various sources and countless mentors, and it was entitled, Whatever Works: A Salad Bar Approach to Parenting.)
A not-yet Stywomian would sit on an airplane listening to a screaming child and think, “Why can’t those parents control their child?” A Stywomian would sit on the same plane and think, “Those poor parents.”
As the not-yets would look upon the Stywomians with disgust, the Stywomians would just shake their heads and chuckle to themselves, for they had all once stood outside the gates of Stywom, clucking their tongues and dribbling their ignorance. They knew what was in store for those outside their gates, but they knew better than to say anything. The not-yets wouldn’t have believed them if they did.
Beyond the western gates of Stywom lay another kingdom, far greater and more revered than Stywom. It was the Kingdom of Soty (Survivors Of the Teenage Years). The people of Stywom gazed at its glory, knowing that someday they too would come to live in this honored place. They had discovered how little they actually know, so instead of standing in judgment, they stood in awe and fear. They sat at the feet of the Sotys, begging for wisdom that would bring them to its hallowed gates.
And they all lived happily ever after, bungee cords and all.