The other day, I had a particularly rough parenting day. Or maybe evening…yes, it was a particularly bad parenting evening. The day wasn’t so bad, actually. My three year old son was unusually happy. Usually, he’s kind of a jerk…and I don’t mean that in a bad way, really. He just doesn’t like people and doesn’t like to make things easy for us. He’s a grumpy old man, trapped in a three-year-old’s body that puts up a fight and an argument about everything.
But on this particular day he was all smiles and giggles. Then my five year old returned home from school.
For a while, everything was awesome*. There were some really nice moments between Five and Three, where they were actually sharing without me pleading for them to get along. There was also that insanely sweet moment wherein Five decided he wanted to write a book and had me spell out “once upon a time, there was a lego man…” so he could write each word and letter.
Those were cool parts, awesome parts. But the noodle meltdown that happened shortly after? Yeah. There was nothing cool or awesome about that.
My five year old likes to talk. He likes to talk and tell stories and his gums are always flapping. He’s earnest and animated when he tells his stories. I love that about him, that’s totally a trait he inherited from me. I’m the same way. Anyway, sometimes when he gets talking, he forgets to pay attention and listen, so when Matt asked him if he wanted rice and he said yes, he [apparently] wasn’t saying yes to rice but to noodles.
When he came to the table to find a plate full of chicken, veggies, and rice…he flipped shit. He lost his ever loving mind over it. He threw the biggest temper tantrum I’ve ever seen from him, one that even put my three-year-old’s meltdowns to shame. Usually, Five will calm down and listen to reason after I’ve sent him to his room for a wee time out. This time, the meltdown for noodles continued on for nearly thirty minutes. He was raving and yelling and screaming for noodles the entire time. My throat hurt just listening to him.
I tried to keep a calm head. I tried to channel my inner Michelle Duggar and speak calmly and quietly, like a church mouse, when I attempted to explain to him why he couldn’t have noodles and why he needed to eat his supper and why I do not tolerate this kind of behavior ever. I tried to teach him important life lessons about consent (no means no, buddy…even when it comes to noodles) and how life isn’t always fair but it was like I was speaking in a totally foreign language to him.
He refused to calm down, so I left the room. When I returned two minutes later, he’d destroyed it. His bedding was on the floor and he was still wailing hysterically about goddamn noodles.
But miraculously, he calmed down when I started speaking. You know that moment is coming, you can feel it. It’s there, lingering in the aftermath of a tantrum. That miracle of a moment when the meltdown ends long enough for you to speak and be heard.
He listened [finally] when I yet again explained why his behavior was inappropriate and unfair. He made his bed and apologized to everyone, and I ended up making the noodles for him because I really
have no backbone felt he got it. He ate his veggies and chicken with the noodles so I can’t feel too guilty about it.
But it was hard, hard on my heart and my nerves. It tested my patience and made my jaw ache from having it clenched for so long in aggravation.
People always ask me what the hardest thing about parenting is. You know… I always get caught up on that question, like a rabbit in a snare. There are so many things, so many aspects of parenting that are hard and unpleasant. You are literally guiding small people into being responsible, contributing members of society and you honestly have no idea if giving in and making your kid the fucking noodles is going to be the thing that tips the scale in a negative way, turning your kid into a whiny self entitled brat of an adult that hates your guts and pouts when they don’t get their own way.
It’s scary and there are so many guides and books on all the ways you can successfully fuck your kids up. You’re either too strict, too lenient, or too vacant. There’s so much judgment from everyone around you; from total strangers to family members, telling you what they’d do and all the reasons why it’s better than what you’re doing.
But…it’s so worth it. Seeing your kid smile, hearing their laugh, watching them do something new for the first time…it totally makes up for every shitty meltdown, every sleepless night and every time you had to get up and scrub vomit off the walls. Hell, it even makes up for every shitty comment some asshole person has made about your parenting skills…well, almost.
*Ugh, will I forever have that Lego Movie song blast through my mind each time I hear that dreaded A word? Right of parenthood, I suppose. I can’t be the only one…right?