Leaving with Dignity: Negotiating with a Tiny Terrorist
Morlan is my nephew and I love him more than anything else in this world. He is one of the sweetest, most lovable children I have ever met and nothing gives me greater pleasure than spending time with him and taking him places. However, there is a darker side to this little angel; the tiny terrorist that is only known to a select few individuals. Morlan is on the brink of turning 2 and has yet to learn how to control his little emotions. Therefore, when the slightest little thing does not go according to his plan; look out!
My husband and I have tried taking him to more places, thinking if he went to enough places he would see that leaving is not a permanent thing and that he will be able to come back. On the other hand we have tried taking him to fewer places, hoping he would realize that his behavior was causing us to not take him out. We have tried stern voices and soft voices, ignoring his behavior, and everything in between. Still, we have seen no change.
Other parents love to offer advice and for a while, I welcomed experienced input, but I have become very selective about that now. In fact, if one more parent of teenage or adult children who does not remember having this issue tells me that you cannot let the child be in control or one more wackadoo who does not have the slightest notion about the infant/toddler mentality tells me to give warnings before it is time to leave, I will have my own meltdown!
What exactly am I supposed to do to take back this illusion of control, buy a shock collar and zap him when he starts having a fit? And for those who suggest 5 minute warnings, Are you kidding me? Give warnings to someone who has no concept of time and does not care one iota that you are only going to tell him one more time… Really people, is this the best parenting strategy you’ve developed? Where is Dr. Spock when I need him?
It must be nice to have such well behaved children who understand what to do and what not to do from infancy. I have tried telling him, “we will be leaving soon,” or “you can only play for a few more minutes.” He looks blankly into my eyes and continues about his business. Then when I make good on my promise that we are leaving, the rage that comes over him is that of an angry poltergeist.
Another strategy that has been suggested is a good ole bribe. Well guess what? He is not buying it, folks! I have had juice, cookies, crackers, candy, fruit, toys, books, puzzles, stuffed animals, my cell phone, and all sorts of other goodies hurled at my head. These pitiful offerings do nothing more than add fuel to his rage and ammo to his arsenal! Why would you people suggest I arm him?
It is unfathomable, to me, that any child around this age would respond to a five minute warning, but if, in fact, your child did or does, congratulations. As for the bribes, I could see how some children might accept a temporary distraction, but Morlan is not one of them. I am no longer taking advice from people who clearly do not understand this problem, nor am I listening to people who want me to exert my authority. Sorry, no Gestapo here!
I will simply have to take solace in the fact that he will one day grow out of this and until then things are going to be a little awkward when we try to leave places. But for all of the parents out there who do not have ideal children who do exactly as they are told when they are told from birth through college, I sympathize with you.
When Are You going to Have Kids?
I get this question, literally on a daily basis from someone, be it a friend, relative, or co-worker and even on occasion, a new acquaintance or stranger. For my own sanity and the personal safety of those who inquire, I have to believe that I am not the only one who has this problem. Now, I realize that not all parents fall into this category and if you are not one of these people, there is no need to take offense. However, the people who do this, please pay attention.
The short answer is: I don’t plan to – EVER. But, I will elaborate a bit.
Not all people have to be parents to be complete. I do not have children. This is not an accident, it is a personal choice. I am a happily married woman, in the midst of my child-bearing years, and I do not dislike children (at least not until they hit puberty.) However, strange as it may seem I do not desire the stresses or rewards of motherhood. Please stop trying to sell me on the idea. I am very well aware of the joys of parenthood, I watched ‘The Cosby Show’ in the 80s and ‘The Simpsons’ in the 90s, as well as all of the other great TV families in between, but this issue is still not up for debate. The negotiations are closed. You are wasting energy and time, yours and mine. And while I appreciate your concern, I cannot help but wonder, why ARE you so concerned? Why is my uterus and its activity so important to you? I’m not quite sure why some parents feel the need to recruit others to have kids. Sorry, but I do not want to join your cult.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m sure it is a lovely cult and you can feel free to leave some pamphlets or other literature in case I change my mind. But as an adult, living in American, I have chosen to exercise my freedom in this aspect of my life. Yet when I explain this to others, after they nosily interrogate me regarding my choice, I endure some mocking questions that I would like to take a moment to address. Not that I need to justify myself to you, but consider this a public service announcement from one of the many adults who does not have children.
Stupid Question #1
“Who will take care of you when you grow old?”
Answer: Robots, probably.
Rebuttal: If you have children merely so they can become your care-givers when you grow old and sick, you are in for a rude awakening, what if your kids are gold-digging, stick people with no souls who would sooner shove you down the stairs than wipe your behind or chauffeur you around to endless doctor’s appointments? Guess that never occurred to you, huh? Well wake up Sunshine! Unless you are one of the Walton’s, the Magic 8 Ball says, “Don’t count on it.”
Foolproof Suggestion: Wouldn’t it be easier to calculate the cost of feeding, clothing, educating, and otherwise raising a child, then divide that amount by your number of pay periods, and open a savings account to stash it in? Then once you reach your golden years, use the savings to hire a private nurse.
Stupid Question #2
“Don’t you want to have the joy of little footsteps and laughter?”
Answer: Ever heard of YouTube? There are lots of videos of cute and funny kids for your viewing pleasure 24/7. No college fund required!
Rebuttal: I know it’s hard to imagine, but there is no shortage of parents willing to lend out their children for a night or weekend of peace, so if I should long for the pitter-patter of little footsteps, or childish laughter, (highly unlikely) I can always volunteer to babysit.
Foolproof Suggestion: Ask friends, neighbors or relatives; Chances are good that just like a box of kittens in front of Wal*Mart, there are people who will give you their kid “free to good home.”
Stupid Question #3
“We were meant to procreate. What about your purpose in life?”
Answer: Oh yes, my purpose in life… whatever will I do with myself if I do not birth some babies? How will I be remembered, what will be my legacy? Welcome to this century, Encino Man, how was the thaw? News Flash: The whole “women are baby-machines” thing is so last century. What is this 1943?!? Do I look like June friggin’ Cleaver? Not only is this an outdated outlook, but when I look around, I see countless people who’s parents are not exactly proud of their choices and actions. Not that all kids grow up to make questionable decisions, but there are no guarantees and I am just fine not being remembered as the mother of a serial killer, white collar criminal or corrupt politician, thank you very much.
Rebuttal: In light of the estimated 4 million babies born each year around the world, I feel the human race is at minimal risk of becoming extinct any time soon.
Foolproof Suggestion: Go for it, just make sure you can afford to support this kid until he moves out, these days that is likely to be 30 years or so. That’s right, parenthood has a hefty price-tag. Even if he doesn’t go to college, you’re still looking hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses that don’t even begin to be recovered by those piddly little tax deductions the IRS offers. This brings me to…
Stupid question #4
“Don’t you want that great tax deduction and/or money back through earned income credit every year?”
Answer: Can I get it without the added expense?
Rebuttal: Let me start by saying, Really? You are looking at your kids as a form of income? There are so many things wrong with that picture. However, I will move onto my original point.
That so-called “great” tax deduction pales in comparison to the annual cost of healthcare, feeding, clothing, educating, and otherwise raising the average child. I am by no means a mathematician, but by crunching the numbers, it quickly becomes evident that the costs far outweigh these imaginary monetary gains. Can you support a child on the amount of money the government offers you as a tax incentive? Not in this economy.
Foolproof Suggestion: Make charitable donations and itemize your taxes. Not only will you get a nice deduction, but you will also be doing a much appreciated service to the organization of your choice.
Please do not think I am mocking parenthood. It is a really tough job and tons of people are great at it. I am not saying that you are wrong to have children. More power to you. I respect your choice, but please extend me, and others like me, the same courtesy. Do not look at us as if we are broken or mentally unstable and we will do the same for you. Just a little something to consider the next time you ask someone, “When are you going to have children?”