By CL Bledsoe
I’ve discovered that the easiest way to get my daughter to dislike something is to say that I like it, and then explain why, including as much historical detail as possible. I’m not sure exactly how broad the scope of this technique is. So far, it works with food, fashion, music, books, art, TV shows, interior design, words, colors, vehicles, dishwasher loading techniques, clothes folding techniques…and probably some other things I’m forgetting. I’m wondering if I should ell her how much I love heroin, or if that will be the breaking point.
No one said parenting is easy.
I had the same delusions going into this that everyone does. I thought, “Hey, here’s this thing I really love that means a lot to me. I can’t wait to share this with my child so they will love it like I do.” What a rube! I bet you couldn’t even get through that without laughing.
Kids are like that know-it-all guy at your friends bad party who “preferred their early work before they sold out” if you make the mistake of mentioning a band, except kids don’t smell quite as bad. Well, sometimes. They’re shorter, at least.
Listen, I love my daughter. I think it’s great she has her own interests and opinions on things. I just wish they matched my opinions on things sometimes. Just once. Or that everything wasn’t an opportunity for her to assert her individuality, because I’ve been down that road and…crap. That’s me. She’s a little me. What have I done?!
Because I know what she likes, a lot of the time. I pay attention and make informed guesses. Kids are like cats — scratch the smelly guy analogy. Let’s do this one. Kids are like cats. If you want a cat to like something, it’s not going to. It’s going to lie in the box the thing you just bought came in. And maybe bite you. See the similarities? But if you set the thing down and walk away, the cat will become interested. Eventually. But maybe still bite you.
I’ve used the setting down/walking away method to great success. I’ve gotten her reading certain books, eating certain things…so far, leaving a broom and dustpan in the living room hasn’t worked, but I have faith.
I’ve started using these techniques on myself, also. Maybe it’s time for that thing everyone told me to watch/read/do six months ago. It isn’t working so well, but we’ll see.
It’s hard to be a kid. People are always telling you what to do, and then they yell at you for not being independent enough. They look at us and see our miserable jobs and bills and general lack of fairy wings, and they know the clock is ticking down until it’s their turn to go to work or the DMV (also sans fairy wings).
None of this will last, of course. For me, the experience of raising my kid is basically that I get to know this person as much as I can, their wants and needs and tastes and all that stuff, and then as soon as I feel like I’m really getting it down, the kid changes in some major way, making all of that peer reviewed research invalid.
Then, you’ve got to start all over figuring them out. It keeps life interesting, I guess. Maybe one of these iterations will think my favorite movie isn’t old and dumb or that the music I like isn’t…also old and dumb. It might take a while. Years. But I’m in for the duration. And I’m learning a lot. I feel like, by the time my kid is grown up, I’ll be just about ready to start raising her.