Y’all remember Y2K? If you don’t, congratulations, you are incredibly and luckily young. I was in 7th grade when I was first warned. My science teacher, an older gentleman, made it very clear that we were to be prepared. The computers. ALL THE COMPUTERS. Like….Errrrrwhere….were going to shut down. For some reason, this meant the world was pretty much going to stop working. Because the computers…um…I don’t know….didn’t know what year it was or something. Like I said, I was in 7th grade.
Anyway, the ball dropped, and we were all still here. The next day, everything seemed to be functioning normally. Life went on. It was the first of many events in my lifetime that were blown way out of proportion. Many things that were seemingly of utter importance wound up sorting themselves out. Urgent matters were eventually forgotten.
Mass hysteria has been around way before the days of news networks and social media, but the faster we can get information out there (and the faster the masses can devour it and purge it back up), the worse it seems to get. Is ISIS going to get us? Will it be North Korea? Are Russian war ships headed towards us? Are people trying to kidnap my child and sell him? Should we vaccinate? Does it cause autism? Is gender fluid? Can I be a woman who wants to be a wife and mother and still be a feminist? Will bird flu come back? Will Zika destroy mankind? Are gluten allergies real? Are leggings only “in” if they are LulaRoe? Will my skin fall off if I choose a cheaper face wash? Is my child a brat? Can I spank him? Can I not? Does he whine too much? Will he be scarred for life if I force him to use the potty? Will he be scarred for life if I don’t? Because he whines, will he turn out to be an asshole? The internet has many opinions on all of these matters.
Some days, my threenager can be the sweetest little man. He refuses to let me call him my baby. “I am not your little baby. I am your big boy.” He wants to help his Daddy do “grown up things”. He wants to wear big boy underwear. He feels obvious empathy and apologizes easily.
Other days, he might as well be my little baby again. His whines can make my skin crawl right off, pack its bags, and move to Canada like an angry liberal celebrity. He wants me to “feed me like a baby”. He would much rather me change his diaper than pee in the potty. “Mama? Is your head going to pop off?” he asks as he sees the defeat in my eyes. It hasn’t actually popped off yet, but neither one of us knows for sure that it won’t.
If one more (well-meaning) person tells me to be consistent in my discipline, my head very well might pop off. I know. I know. It is easy to say “be consistent”. It is even easy to discipline the first few go-rounds of whiny-ness. Eventually, though, I’d like to pee or shop or blog or eat lunch or do something OTHER than put my child in time-out all day. If I put my child in time out every time he whined, I would seriously have time for nothing else. Children get away with whining with those they spend the most time with because we have run out of energy. We have given up. We are exhausted. Repeating the exact same scenario over and over again all day is its own type of torture.
I can hear it right now. Someone is reading this and thinking, “Why don’t you spank him?” Well, Mr. or Mrs. Judgey-Pants, I’ve tried that. You know what happened? He started to hit me when he was angry. What works for some children does not work for all children. My parents spanked me and I turned out alright, but I also was not a naturally stubborn child. I never once thought about hitting them back. My child did. He quickly learned that when he is upset with someone that he should hit them. These are not the traits I want to instill in him.
This really isn’t a “what do I do?” post or a “cry for help” post. Seriously. I don’t mind your stories, but I am NOT asking for your advice. This is just a “Hey! Kids suck sometimes. Parenting is hard. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It doesn’t mean your child is a bad person” post. What I’ve realized is that the well-meaning people are genuinely concerned. They aren’t jerks. They aren’t even condescending or judgemental. *I mean some of them are, but many of them really do just want to help.* What they don’t realize is that no matter what I do….no matter which path we go down with our child…he is a naturally good person-and he is going to turn out just fine. He is three years old.
Luckily, I have two close friends with sons a year older than mine. They went through these same whiny-butt phases when they turned three. They were frequently disciplined and it seemed like they’d be “difficult” children forever, but guess what? They’re both already little sweethearts who like to follow the rules and care about others. My very best friend in the whole world was such a little brat that my parents didn’t even like her when we were kids. We all laugh about it now because she is one of the kindest people we have ever known.
Sometimes, instead of worrying so much about every little whiny moment, it is easier to think towards the future. He is at the age between understanding and self-discovery. He is testing his boundaries and figuring out at what point mommy’s head will, in fact, pop off. This time is hard, but what would make it even harder is if I spent every moment of his third year punishing him. I can’t do it. I can’t be angry with my child 24/7. And that is okay.