As it turns out, parenting gets harder as your children get older. Huh. Whodda thunk?! Yes, the days of strapping a miniature human being into a rolling snack chair and wheeling them wherever the heck you want have passed. Now, we negotiate. We negotiate everything. We negotiate things like putting shoes on, taking naps, how many books to read, and the age-old debate of why one should wear pants to dinner at a restaurant. Like any negotiation, things don’t always go to plan and sometimes you have to walk away from the table. Sometimes you find yourself tacking on concessions that really have nothing to do with the main topic of negotiation. Then, sometimes…you stare at a toddler as he flops on the ground like fresh caught fish and hold your ground.
Pants will be worn at dinner.
My kids are now 4 and 2…though Max would correct me to explain he is “4 and a half.” He can tell you every birthday between now and his birthday…but he casually forgets how Velcro works when it is time to put on his shoes and go to summer school. This morning Max played the “I don’t know how to” card when it came to putting on his shoes. Kate negotiated. I waited in the wings trying not to explode. Max made a great case as to how he had forgotten how these specific shoes worked, when Dodge (the 2-year-old) casually slipped his shoes on and said, “Come on Max!” There was an argument about something trivial which ended in Max shouting, “I don’t want you to be my brother anymore.” Negotiations stopped. ” Patient Kate” reluctantly stepped aside as “Militant Dada” stepped into the room and explained to Max that if he didn’t put his shoes on that was fine, but that I would be giving away all his toys to kids his age who could put their shoes on. Max rapidly put his shoes on without issue and changed into his shirt for school. There were tears. I didn’t mind. I cockily smiled at Kate as if to say, “You’re welcome.” She sneered back with disapproval as if to say, “You’re not helping you loud-mouth bully.”
…and that is why we have sought counseling.
As it turns out, for the bazillionth time in my life, I am not special. It would appear this is as common as my garden variety anxiety I wear like a get-out-of-jail-free badge. It would appear my getting flummoxed over why Max is such a turd sometimes is a condition called “Being the Parent of a 4 Year Old.” Sorry…4 and a half-year old. Like Steve Martin in the movie “Parenthood,” I’m high-strung and overreacting to common parenting situations. Those of you who know me, know that sounds crazy. <insert long pregnant pause here> However, this isn’t a movie and I’m not Cowboy Gil Buckman learning to “go with it” via a roller-coaster montage. I’m me…and I need help. So what do we do? We hired a third-party to listen to us and tell us what we’re missing, a parenting specialist. While I HATE reading self-help books…my kids’ futures are at stake, so there’s those I have to read too. The basic plan is this:
- Kate wasn’t raised the way I was so she doesn’t get my parenting style
- I wasn’t raised the way Kate was so I don’t get her parenting style
- We both need to stop trying to be like our parents
- We need to develop a NEW process to parent our children together
Lets all sing Kumbaya and talk about our feelings to the sound of a bongo. Ugh. I hate doing the right thing. My parents rocked as parents. Rocked! They are the coolest parents I know, I love the relationship I have with them, and I want to be just like them when I grow up (if I ever grow up). Kate’s parents rock! They are also the coolest parents I know, I love the way they handle things in their family, and I hope I can have the same relationship with my kids when they grow up. Two very different styles. Two very different kids as a result…who fell in love, got married, and cranked out 2 kids who are looking to us to show them the way. Okay…yeah. The whole stop trying to be your parent and be yourself thing makes sense. I’m 35…okay 35 and a half…okay I turn 36 in one month! I’m 4 years from 40 and just want to run through the sprinkler, eat Pop-Tarts, and watch cartoons all day. How do I have kids? I started this site to document my 30’s and discuss parenthood…and now I’m on the downward skid towards 40 and it turns out I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about when it comes to parenting? Wait, wait…get this: I’m not alone. Everyone reading this is either saying to themselves:
- “Won’t happen to me.” (it’s coming)
- “Get over it already.” (going through it)
- “Just you wait Ryan.” (went through it)
Don’t believe me? Check the comment section. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Leave a comment while you’re there.
To bring it full circle, as it turns out, parenting gets harder as your children get older. Huh. Whodda thunk?! Since I do like to leave my constant readers with a little advice or something to take away from my writing, I’ll say this: Of course it gets harder. Parenting is shifting away from making decisions for your kids and into helping them make better informed decisions for themselves. Some decisions you will not like. Many you will not like. You are integrating a new personality into your family unit…and that personality is prone to change…daily. If you are in over your head, ask for help. If you are being a loud-mouth bully like me, ask for help. If you think you are doing great, ask for help. A little outside perspective never hurt anyone. Worst case scenario you find out you’re doing exactly what you should be doing.
So raise a glass, if you can over your ponch that suddenly showed up in the last few years unannounced and makes you feel “crumpled” when you sit and try to type a blog about your 30’s. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? No? Just me? A toast! To being another statistic! I’m a dad in his 30’s struggling with a toddler’s statistically common “bad” behavior. Cheers. Seriously though…can we start drinking yet? I’ll turn on the sprinkler and get the Pop-Tarts!
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