i had to laugh to myself while watching two fully grown parent-people scowling at and arguing with the contents of their tandem stroller in the middle of the sidewalk at the zoo today.
i’ve been there. a lot. daily. not always at the zoo. but often. and chances are good people have laughed at my negotiations escalating into full-on breakdowns (mine) with the pint-size dictators whose heads don’t even reach over the top of my stroller.
why do we let these people WHO NEED US TO PUSH THEM AROUND AND WIPE THEIR ASSES control our moods and plan our lives? here’s my guesses:
**i should say this may not be a universal experience. some people don’t argue with their kids, they are just the bosses and the kids get that they are…not. this may be unique to my family. or, maybe my family and that family at the zoo. and most of my friends’ families. or maybe the white modern american family? boy, the pendulum has swung far from my “children should be seen and not heard” German/English heritage to now the children’s screams are all you hear in my house while the parents cower in the corner, rocking and sucking their thumbs. (this may be a small exaggeration. we usually cower in the bathroom, pretending to be pooping)
anyway. why do rational adults let kids get them all riled up:
1. our kids’ actions/inactions gravely effect us. it’s hard to just let their behaviors slide. eg: if they don’t eat a meal at meal time, WE have to deal with it later in the form of either endless arguments or making endless snacks. because they can’t STARVE, for God’s sake (90th% weight, both of them). and they can’t reach anything or be trusted with knives. so after we made a big dinner that was resolutely condemned as garbage, we then immediately are expected to clean up that whole mess and make them new, different, better food. with the associated bloody knuckles from slicing up apples and neck pain from shaking head, denying inquiries for more valentine’s candy.
2. they lack empathy. but it’s really easy to forget that they don’t develop that solidly until much later (you hope!). so when it seems like they don’t give a shit about us, they truly do not. i mean, they love us, they just can’t feel our pain. our needs don’t occur to them. eg: when i’m leaving school with them, carrying 17 bags and 400 beautiful new pieces of art that can’t be wrinkled or #tears, it doesn’t occur to them NOT to ask me to throw away the tiny piece of garbage they collected. while they’re leaning against a garbage can. empathy is a skill like any other that has to be built. if they don’t end up themselves in the trash can first.
3. their judgement is piss-poor and our job is to get in the way of them offing themselves. what SEEMS to them like a good opportunity to demonstrate independence, is to us them walking directly into traffic. again. see, it’s just a matter of perspective. and opportunity for a fight.
4. we parents are human and our feelings get hurt. we get tired and hungry, too. it is irksome when it feels like no one hears you when you’re speaking. we sometimes just want to curl up and cry or punch the sidewalk or go pout in our rooms. 6 months ago i would have said, “but we’re adults and can’t do those things” but now i’m learning to fucket, and i’m doing all those things. i’m working up a good hissy fit right now as i type this, actually.
5. and, lastly, they’re really, extremely cute. and we like them because #biology and because we have invested all this time and energy and pain into them, so we truly want them to be happy. (there is no reverse on that, see #2). so we try to do what they want. even when it’s terribly inconvenient or difficult or painful for us. BUT, the more sacrificial you are in those moments, the more you get to bitch to your friends over drinks about how hard it all is.
so, there are pay-offs.
anyway. solidarity, man. i think i’m going to make some greeting cards that i can pass out in public when i see parents experiencing things like that stroller stand-off today at the zoo.
“Hang in their, champs. We know that yesterday he loved carrots and today he is full of lies.”
“You’re doing a great job, parent! It’s not a reflection on you that she is so, so mean. Here, have a cookie.”
“If you need to go punch a park bench or something, I can totally watch your kid for a second. It’s cool. I definitely won’t kidnap your little bastard. I have plenty. “
who else has ideas for cards we should pass out?