My best friend texted me this morning that after finally caving by allowing her son to have graham crackers for breakfast, he cried when she broke it in half. If I had a dollar for every time I cut my children’s fruit wrong, wouldn’t allow them to drink toothpaste from the tube, or stopped them from eating a flaming s’more, I’d be able to open my own soundproof hotel where parents could stay for free and scream into lavender-scented-pillows until their heart’s content.
We are not alone in this struggle—in fact there is an entire hashtag with 89k+ post exclusively for pictures of crying toddlers and children because their “a-hole parents” are just trying to keep them alive by not allowing them to stick their head in the toilet or eat cereal out of the dog bowl. If it makes me an a-hole parent for trying to prevent you from getting pink eye or Canine Brucellosis, so be it. I thought perhaps these power struggles would lessen with age, but I’ve found that some how they’ve gotten more ridiculous and often complex. For example, my 4-year-old is obsessed with spraying her bangs with water to get them out of her face, so she looks like a mini cast member of the Jersey Shore, but she refuses to wear hair clips because they are “too pokey” and the water helps make her hair the right amount of “swishy”. If there was a retort to that argument, it was in none of the parenting books I skimmed over.
I often wonder, how could something so small be such a big deal in their world? What I try and tell myself (although it can be hard to hear over all the screaming) is, in that moment their world is that graham cracker or tube of toothpaste. If they could find a way to start a peaceful protest and articulately express why it is important to them that they be allowed to wear socks in the swimming pool, I am sure they would. But thanks to evolution and survival of the fittest, a child’s whine pitch frequency is the most effective means for getting an adult’s attention because before it was complaining about not being allowed to watch “Daniel Tiger” for the 3rd time that day, it was whining that the actual tiger was getting too close for comfort.
Their objections are reminders that their little brains are still developing and according to Janet Lansbury it is our job to make them feel safe and heard. Well hear this, Janet, sometimes that’s simply impossible and so as a parent you’ll laugh, cry, get mad, walk away or maybe snap a picture for Instagram because you’ve maxed out on your quota of kid crazy for that day. This is not easy! It is tough to be tough! Luckily though, we a-hole parents are highly trained and the most qualified in the art of turning that frown upside down.