Someone once told me, “Trust me. The qualities in your kids that annoy you the most now, are the very same qualities that you want them to possess as young adults.” I say, “Easier said than done Missy.” That’s like asking me if I’d like a cold glass of water, while I’m walking in the desert and then telling me that you don’t have any. That’s like parking a new BMW in my driveway and telling me to take it for a spin and then telling me that you don’t have the keys. In other words, it doesn’t do me much good in the here and now…
But, you know what? It’s actually a really thought provoking statement. The truth is, things can be hectic when you’re getting into it with your kids. I think as parents, we get a bit caught up in the emotions of it. It’s hard to hear the word “no” one hundred trillion times a day and not want to strangle somebody.
Over the past year or so, my wife and Kid #1 have been, let’s just say, incompatible at times. I find this hilarious because they are actually more compatible than most people I know. It seems as if every time they are in the same room, one of them is sure to fly off the handle within seconds. I liken their relationship to a teakettle constantly simmering, ready to boil at any moment. This constant fighting between them really bothers my wife. I always seem to be caught in the middle in the worst way. If I side with my kid then I’m not a “good disciplinarian”. If I side with my wife, then I’m the “worstest” Daddy ever and I don’t love my kid.
I think there are many reasons for this kiddy / mommy, catfight phenomenon. In a nutshell, I think it’s pretty simple and all parties involved wind up getting a bad rap. Here’s how I break it down…
1. People argue. It’s a test of wills. Not everybody wants the same things all the time. It’s only natural to state your position and stand your ground. When you believe in something, whether it’s the right to bear arms or the right to eat ices before dinner, it’s a personal opinion and it always comes from the heart. People like Johnny Cochran made a pretty good living at it before he kicked it a few years back. Just watch any Matlock rerun and you’ll get a taste of what an eloquent art form this can be.
2. Kids don’t like to be told what to do. In fact, they hate to be told what to do. When a kid pushes back, it’s their way of feeling out their little person Cohones. It’s the beginning of kiddy confidence. Putting a kid back in their place every single time without a good confrontation can shatter their ability to stand up for themselves. How can we expect our little precious ones to stand up to the neighborhood bully in the schoolyard if they don’t get any practice at home? Trust me, I’m a big fan of the, “because I said so!” but it doesn’t hurt to go toe to toe with them every once in a while.
3. Parents don’t like to be told what to do. (Please refer to #2) Chances are most of us have already had our asses kicked in the schoolyard by the neighborhood bully more than once already This makes it worse…
4. Ego, Ego, Ego. Not to be confused with Eggo, the tasty and convenient breakfast treat. Isn’t that weird that you just thought to yourself, “leggo my Eggo.” And I didn’t even write it… Anyway, the ego thing works both ways. Kids are so used to being built up every minute of the day with, “you’re so cute.” or “you’re so smart.” or “you’re so great at the hula-hoop. But when you cut them down at the knees, lumberjack style for any reason, it’s makes them feel bad. It shocks them out of their little angel fantasyland. Little kids aren’t mature enough to shrug it off and bounce back all the time. Sometimes it stings a bit more than other times and they instinctively fight back. Parents are built a bit differently but for all intents and purposes it’s the same stuff. Parents hate when their kids talk back to them. When a kid is being “fresh” or “disobedient”, especially in front of other parents or even worse, your parents or your parents, parents, it makes us look bad. (go ahead, read that sentence again. I had to read it a few times to make sure.) It makes it look like we can’t control our little animals. Then our kids come off as spoiled rotten or problematic. No parent wants to hear, “I would never let my kid talk back to me like that.” So as parents, our natural defense is the same as a porcupine or a blowfish. We muscle up a bit, sometimes over the top just to make sure everyone knows who’s boss. When the kid and parent egos meet in that proverbial dark Alley, it tends to get real toxic, real quick.
5. Little girls are crazy and Moms are even crazier. This is actually the most important part of the equation. I know I’m going to get killed at home for saying this and probably killed in the comments as well but it’s going to be hard for anyone to deny. Little girls tend to be just like their Mom’s. You always hear how important the same sex parent is as a role model. Think about it. You hardly ever see a six-year-old girl laying on the couch, scratching herself, watching football, and eating Funyions. But how many times do you see her playing dress up, putting on make up or yelling at her doll to go to bed. Hmmmm. Sounds a lot like Mom to me. As a matter of fact, on more than one occasion, I’ve actually turned to my wife in the middle of one of their shouting matches and said, “She is EXACTLY like YOU.” As you might guess, that never scores me points on the backend. Actually, having two daughters is a lot like having three wives sometimes. I’ll never forget the time I was in the little boys room, doing my morning business and all of a sudden my oldest starts banging on the door yelling, “Get your ass off the freakin toilet and get out of the bathroom already!” I almost fell off the bowl laughing before I started to cry.
Basically, it’s a tough thing to deal with. Every parent wants to do the right thing and raise good kids. Whether they are boys or girls, we want them to be strong, smart and independent. So that bit of advice I was given is completely true. The next time you’re arguing with your stubborn, strong willed, over confident kid, try to picture them at 21 years old, possessing those very same qualities that are bugging the heck out of you at 6 years old and you’ll probably do what I’ve been doing lately… smiling and feeling like I must have done something right. I’m sure once upon-a-time, even Hillary Clinton was a stubborn kid, fighting with her mother and look where that got her. J Whatever the case may be I’m staying neutral because as always, I’m totally Out-Numbered.