Tag Archives: Mature

Why It’s Always The End Of The World For Your Child

In my house, the end of the world came around with a distressing regularity.

With three young dudes growing up in the same house, being ruled over by the meanest, most horrible dictator ever to put on a pair of pants and then jump up and down on poor, defenseless boys who only wanted so very little. . .

Those poor young dudes. It must have been like living in hell. Only, the thing of it is. . . I was there. It wasn’t hell for anyone. Anyone but an adult in the vicinity.

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You’ve all seen it. Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve seen it.Pulling an ugly face is a regular occurrence for little dudes during their toddler years. And beyond, if I'm being honest.

Something happens and suddenly the world ends for a young dudette, who starts screaming and yelling and crying and throwing herself onto the floor of the grocery store and acting like the end is not only nigh, but already here and wearing spiked heels to step on her.

On a (slightly) less histrionic level, I and probably most parents in the history of history have heard just about every single variation on the phrase, “This was the worst. Evar!”

I mean, seriously. If I hear that again, I just might be the one who screams.

So, yeah. We’ve all seen this sort of thing happen. Something minor rocks the little dude’s world and he reacts like someone tried to cut off his arm and beat his puppy to death with it. (Although that might be a bit of a harsh simile. Accurate, but still harsh.)

The big question (other than, “How do I stop this? Or, barring that, make a clean get away without being caught?) is why? Why do our little dudes and dudettes react so over the top?

The easiest answer is also the one about which we can do the least. They simply have no basis for comparison. When young dudes aren’t yet six or so, they are all about existing in the now.

If it already happened, it doesn’t matter. If it will happen in the future, it doesn’t matter. Right now. That’s all that matters.

Which means that, if a child doesn’t have something right now, at this very moment, it will never happen. They will forever be deprived, just like they have always been deprived of what they want. That’s a hard thing to face, especially for tiny humans who have so little experience.

Which leads us to a second reason. Being young, they have no basis for comparison. When little J’Amelia is mean to your daughter in school, it might be the worst day of her life so far. Really. She might not be exaggerating. Oh, she will experience worse (much, much worse) later in her life, but being young, she still hasn’t enjoyed all of life’s little jokes.

Young dudettes and dudes don’t have the life experience necessary to really make a good comparison between miseries. Stubbing her toe is bad and hurts, but they can’t ask themselves if it’s anywhere near as bad as that time they broke their arm. Or cut open their thumb. Or, really, anything.

Our ability to compare allows us to realize that it’s just pain and we’ve had worse, which allows us to calm down.

And, that’s another thing. We, as adults, are supposed to be rational, thinking beings. (I’m going to be nice and say most of us are, although, in my heart of hearts, I doubt it.) The brains of young kids don’t fully mature until they’re much, much older, say, around 25 or so for boys.

Unfortunately for the ears around them, their limbic system (which controls their emotions) is fully functioning, firing on all cylinders. Toddler brains become flooded with the hormones and neurotransmitters that cause pain and anger and sorrow and all the rest, but they don’t have the cognitive skill and experience to overcome that and regain control of themselves.

Looking back, I’m not sure I was able to offer much in the way of hope for struggling parents. Other than the obvious: This, too, shall pass.

And, though you doubt it in the midst of a truly epic meltdown, it will get better. All you have to do is stay relatively calm and help your little dude through his current issue.

It’s not personal. It’s just what and who they are at the moment. Keep showing good behavior, being a good role model and talking them through their experiences so they learn the right thing and . . . everything should be fine.

I’m going to do you younger parents a favor and not even bring up the teenage years here. Mostly because I’m a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and there’s some stuff up with which no one should put.

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Will You Still Need Me, When You’re Twenty-Four?*

I knew there was going to be trouble the first time I had to wag my finger in admonition and look up at Sarcasmo.

Physically, it’s been apparent for a long while that I was going to be the shortest male in the family. Sarcasmo, our oldest, is around 6′ 4″ now and should be finally stopped growing at 21. Zippy the Monkey Boy is 6′ 2″ or so and Hyper Lad is 5′ 9″, but he’s only 14 so has a lot of growing left to do.

When I realized they were going to be all taller and probably bigger than me, I quickly realized that I would have to come up with a catch phrase that would establish my authoritarian position as the leader of our little clan. It would have to be persuasive and showcase the innate superiority of the position of listening to their father and doing what he says to the idea that they can go haring off on their own and do whatever comes into their swiss-cheesed brains.**

Here’s what I came up with: “You might end up being bigger and stronger than me, but I will always be sneakier and meaner.”

And it’s worked. So far. Of course, it’s meant in jest and I made sure my young dudes know it, but the meaning behind the joke is somewhat more serious.

It’s not that we parents tell our children what to do because we’re control freaks***, but rather because we have life experience and understand how there might be a better or safer way to do something. The problem with kids ageing is that I can’t expect to have them do what I tell them to do just because I said they should do it. That works when they’re younger for a variety of reasons.

Little dudes start off doing as they’re told because Mom and Dad are infallible, but that goes away pretty quickly. They’ll also do as they’re told because, to be blunt, they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t. Not that every kid is worried that their parent will hit them, but parents are, after all, in charge of who gets the TV or the computer, the person who will take them to the park. Parents hold a lot of keys to a lot of different treasure chests.

As the little dudettes get older, though, these subtle threats begin to lose their force. The words “You can’t make me” or “You’re not the boss of me” begin to make the first of their years-long lifespans as a major part of her vocabulary.

And, once she gets past a certain age, she’s right. We can’t. Legally, if a young man 18 or over wants to do something, there’s precious little a parent can do to stop him.

Which, again, is bad news because, as much as the young dudes wish it weren’t so, parents really do understand more about life and really do know better.

Parents are a marvelous resource for young sons and daughters. Unfortunately, there are too many instances in which those resources go untapped and unrecognized.

So. We’ve got that all set up. Come back tomorrow and we’ll discuss what you can do to make sure your son or daughter not only asks for, but listens to your suggestions.

Footnotes & Errata

* With my apologies to the Beatles, but the song lyric just fit too well to ignore.
** Not really Swiss cheese. I just use that as a visual shorthand for the fact that (and this is science, dudes and dudettes) the male brain doesn’t fully mature until at least 25 or so. If you’re lucky.
*** Which you will certainly believe. As long as you don’t listen to any of my children. Or my sister’s. Or my neighbors’. Or that dude over there. You get my point.

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Zippy The Birthday Boy

It’s not always easy watching your little dudes grow up, but it can be rewarding.

Today, on this date 19 years ago, sometime in the early afternoon, Zippy the Monkey Boy came squirting out into the world. I mean that literally.

His mom was bearing down so hard, Zippy the Monkey Boy almost shot out past the doctor’s waiting hands. Fortunately, the doc had played softball for a long time and was a good fielding glove.

Not kidding in the least.

Still, his entry into the world was indicative of how Zippy the Monkey Boy would go through life. He wasn’t named Zippy the Monkey Boy when he first started staring owlishly at this new, bright and cold place in which he suddenly found himself.

We mostly called him Happy. Or Smiley. Or something along those lines, because that little dude was a marvelously well-behaved baby. For a while. We paid for the easy beginning later one, oh, yes we did. But the start was a smooth one.

Looking back, all I can do is wonder What in the hell were we thinking? Seriously, we looked at his older brother Sarcasmo, who at Zippy the Monkey Boy’s birth was 14 months old, and thought he would be mature enough to help us care for his baby brother. Zippy the Monkey Boy is a lucky little dude getting through that messily wrong assumption relatively unscathed.

He also had to put up with stuff his older brother didn’t. Sarcasmo got to sleep in a cradle borrowed from friends. Zippy the Monkey Boy? He got an egg crate folded up inside a sheet and placed in a clothes basket in which to sleep. It actually turned out great, because we could simply pick up the clothes basket and move it wherever we wanted the little Zip to go.

It was a great dirty clothes basket. In fact, we still have the thing out in our garage. We still have Zippy the Monkey Boy as well, but that’s not nearly as astonishing I don’t think.

For most of his life, Zippy the Monkey Boy has been a stubborn little dude. He’s finally beginning to turn that to the good, instead of using it for evil. It’s been a long, slow process, but the little dude has turned into a pretty amazing young man.

It’s not to say that he doesn’t suffer the occasional lapse, like for instance when he went off to a job interview wearing flip flops and fought valiantly to keep doing so because forcing him to wear actual shoes was, and I quote, “unfair.” Still, those instances are few and far between. And growing farther.

He’s become a young dude I like talking to. He has opinions that can differ significantly from my own and he’s not afraid to get into a spirited defense of those beliefs. And his arguments are more sophisticated than “because they’re cool.” He’s applying his analytical mind to things more significant than a logical reason why he should be allowed more cookies to eat before bedtime

It’s been an honor and a privilege watching as Zippy the Monkey Boy has grown into Zippy the College Boy. He’s given us trials and hugs, screaming fits and screaming laughter, anger and love.

Like everyone’s life, that of Zippy the College Boy has been a roller-coaster of a ride, filled with zigs and zags, ups and downs, but it’s been a ride I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

For a little dude who raced into the world, eager to experience whatever it had to offer, to a young man who believes that on-time happens to other people, he still has a ways to go. I can’t wait to watch his journey there.

Happy birthday, son. You’re deeply loved by more people than you’ll ever know.

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