This week, staff writer Frank Friedlander gives us a look into the relationship between parents and their children. Parents, have you found yourself in a similar situation? What have you done to get some peace?
How is it that those without children have all the answers? It seems as though everyone I know without kids is an expert on raising children, and those of us who have them know nothing. I forget the name of the movie, but it’s about how babies have all the answers, but can only communicate amongst themselves. As soon as they cross over into toddlerhood, it’s all unlearned do they can’t tell the grown ups, or something like that. Anyway, that’s similar to parenthood. Before you have kids, you know everything there is to know about parenting. However, the moment the kids come, it’s all unlearned and you become helpless, praying for your childless friends and family to show you the way.
“Potty training is easy,” they’ll assure us. “Just take away the diaper and it will come naturally,” they’ll confidently add. Genius! Why couldn’t anyone have thought of such a tactic before? I just hope that 19-year-old “Aunt I- Never-Plan-on-Having-Kids, is as willing to come by to clean up the mess when her master plan epic fails as she is to bestow her infinite wisdom upon us.
Believe me, I’ve been on the other side of the coin too. I think back to my days waiting tables. Kids always seem to be drawn to those sugar caddies. They love to sift through those colorful little paper packets and throw them about. And Cheerios; they always seem to have Cheerios. Of course, the Cheerios always end up scattered about on the floor. Once in the while, a few will end up in their mouths, but I assure you that it’s strictly coincidental. Of course the server never says anything about it. What’s going through their mind, and what they gripe about to their fellow wait staff when they walk off is different. “Why can’t these people learn to control their kids,” I remember thinking back then. “One thing’s for sure,” I’d add, “my kids will know how to behave. They sure won’t make some waiters life more difficult because they’re too lazy to keep Junior occupied.”
Guess what, eight years later, and if all it takes to keep little Francie busy while we scarf down our meal is to play with the sugar caddy, then all hail the sugar caddy; and the waiter should be happy about it. The more occupied the kids are, the happier the parents are, and the bigger your tip is.
One thing’s for sure; I have all the respect in the world for single parents, or those whose spouses work odd hours. When you’re on your own, it’s even harder. Even at home. “What do you want for dinner Francie?” I’ll ask. “Candy,” she’ll reply. “No silly, you can’t have candy for dinner. How about some noodles?” “Candy,” she’ll reply. “Maybe you can have a piece of candy after you eat,” I plead. “CANDY!!!” she says, gyrating in such a fashion in which it would appear as though she’s going to blast into orbit.
“Yes ma’am, would you prefer Twizzlers or Gummy Bears?” No, I don’t give my daughter candy for dinner, no matter how red she turns. But the fact of the matter is: if it gets to the point where you’re trying to rationalize with a two year old, you’ve already lost the battle. If only 25 year old childless me was there to help. He had all the answers.