It hit me this week, as I was watching Nashville, of all things (…hey Clare Bowen, can we get free tickets to something since we plugged your show??). One of the teenagers on the series was having another nonsensical mood swing that makes me clench my jaw and want to shake them…and that’s when I realized it.
None of us will be spared from the unreasonable moments of our kids’ childhoods…teen years…young adult crises.
Did everyone realize this already except me?
We aren’t getting out of this riding on the backs of our abilities to speak logically, kindly, gently (though I think these things are good things). We won’t be given a free pass just because we were good and generous most of the last decade or because we are decent at explaining things. Because, much like trying to talk sense into a drunk person, your breath is wasted until they are not. As it goes with toddlers.
But guys…do you realize this?? During the “unreasonable seasons,” sobriety might be a long time coming. *Stares blankly into computer screen with a twitch in the left eye.* Those yet-to-be-developed-brain-stages are not short ones (until they are, but that’s another post)…
I think, until now, I have banked on immunity from eventually raising kids who have outbursts or absurd dating drama or a “mine!” stage…because I’m rational. Because I can explain rationally. Because we will sit down and hash it out like rational human beings and all will be well.
But my 14 month old spit curdled milk up into our recliner last week, and as we were rushing to him with a towel, he began to eat it once more and listen…I think I just now…JUST NOW…realized that sometimes kids are unreasonable despite our efforts.
Here are some other moments in recent history where sound explanation did nothing for the absurdity that is a child’s actions. I’ve collected some phrases that my parent friends and I have had to say over the past few weeks…
- You pooped in the bath again? No do not dance in it…no do not eat it…
- I’m sorry, I cannot let you kiss the electrical outlet.
- Belly buttons are not buttons.
- Nipples are not buttons.
- We do not stick our heads in the potty.
- Please don’t touch your bottom while you are pooping.
- You may not go to the library naked.
- You may not get inside of the oven.
- I’m so sorry that your water is too wet.
- Q-tips are not toothbrushes.
- Toothbrushes are not hair brushes.
- Hair brushes are not weapons.
- I can’t let you bite the dog’s hiney.
I suppose that, yes, growth and learning involve hell-bent and embarrassing and not-quite-judicious exploration. And boy are we growing and learning. Not a bad lesson to remember for the tiny student; not a bad lesson to remember for the care-giver of the student. But good Lord, these scenarios we find ourselves in! They are comical and confusing.
So this is my formal apology to every parent of a teenager with a smoldering attitude at the restaurant table, every dad with a buggy that’s barely containing their raging child, every middle aged mom with a young adult who is acting like they are outside of their almost-fully-grown mind at periodic family gatherings…
I thought, at one point, that if you were just a little more skilled in conversation and compassion and persuasion, that you wouldn’t be in the situations that you’re in. That we’re in.
And then my kid ate a fly despite my pleas and hurry, and I realized that the life ahead of me is one of growth and growing in and amongst the illogical…that maybe these little drunkards running around absorb reason and understanding and kindness and ethics along the way despite their insistent and opposite reactions, despite all of the ways on all of the days that I too am nonsensical.
The best we can with what we’ve got through a filter of love and a will to not take ourselves too seriously…this is what now sounds reasonable to me.