Hi to all, and welcome to the Perspectives series for the month of January on the Single Dad’s Guide to Life. We have partnered with Brandi Kennedy, an amazing blogger, and writer in her own right, on her blog Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman. The blog here will take the issues we cover and present them from a single father’s perspective. And her blog will present them from a single mother’s Perspective. Definitely, take time checking her out if you haven’t already, and see how we compliment each other through our posts. It’s always interesting to catch things from different perspectives. So when Brandi and I talked about doing something where kids say the darndest things, I thought that would be an interesting post.
I knew in the past I had come up with material similar in nature. In fact, I was thinking exactly this when I pieced together my post on the number eleven and how I was freaked out by it when my daughter and I started talking just last year. Maybe this is why, last night, I decided to take her to Claim Jumper for our daddy-daughter date, exactly as I had done one year before. Maybe I was seeking some kind of inspiration. She would say something to me that would jump out at me and I would be set.
Maybe it’s because my daughter is eleven and still takes herself pretty seriously, but when I brought up this post, she didn’t immediately jump to some silly thing some classmate said.
She turned to me and said, “Daddy, don’t parents say the darndest things as well. I mean, I know of all kinds of crazy things parents say. It’s just hilarious sometimes.”
While part of me wanted to defend myself to certain things and evaluate everything she said from the prism of a parent who knows sometimes his daughter takes things too literally, I knew that she wasn’t entirely wrong. We do say some of the craziest things sometimes. I know some of the things we say, we would have rolled our eyes at if our parents had told them to us when we were kids. And sometimes we say some things I would have bet I would have never said when I was younger. It’s like we had some switch go off in our brains when we became parents and suddenly the world changed. And upon reflection, my mind changed about what I wanted to write for today’s post. Because parents say the darndest things.
So I went back into my brain, trying to dust off the cobwebs of my memory, trying to remember some of the craziest things I said since I became a parent. I know there are quite a few things I start to question my sanity about. And with a long list, I thought I needed to pare it down before I drove people out with my novel-length list of crazy. And instead, I would put out a list of my top 5 crazy things I, and possibly some other parents might have said in their lifetime.
Parents Say The Darndest Things – The Top 5 Crazy Things Said
1) You cry it out and throw up on me if you need to.
Maybe it’s just me, but I remember very vividly when I said this. My ex and I were having an argument and she left very abruptly while I took care of my daughter. No explanation, she was just gone. And my daughter, being two at the time, became very upset at the whole prospect. She wanted her intact family in whatever way was possible. So she began to cry uncontrollably.
Now I’m not one of those parents who need to shut up his child. I don’t believe in trying to accomplish this goal. While I know children can behave inappropriately, shutting them up never helps. It seems to cause a litany of other problems. But there are certainly times in your life where you know calming them down will be better for them than working themselves up into crying uncontrollably.
And initially, I thought I was going try to quiet her until the moment I realized she just needed to get her feelings out. When all of a sudden these words proceeded from my mouth. The crazy thing is up to this point in my life, I was a sympathetic vomiter. Even the smell would drive me to do so. So me telling my daughter it was ok would be crazy. Because then not only would I be dealing with my daughter but I would be dealing with my own vomit.
And yet, it didn’t happen. Yes, she vomited all over me which seemed to settle her down and be happy daddy was holding her. (Plus she got to laugh at me cleaning it all off my back and sides.) But I didn’t vomit. I didn’t even want to. In that moment something did click and I was there to take care of my daughter. Nothing else mattered. It may have been a crazy thing to say, but the irony was it was true.. And it worked.
2) Santa Claus is watching you all the time. So you better behave.
Maybe it’s because my parents never allowed me to believe in Santa Claus in the first place, aside from some guy who used to help kids once upon a time. So it was strange when I began telling my child all about Santa Claus. I not only did it, but I did things to reinforce this belief like using the PNP service. (If you want to convince your kids Santa is real, this will do it.) So I made sure my daughter believed in him.
Now I get the whole idea of wanting to maintain your child’s belief in magic. But to do this we tell our kids of a strange fat man who comes down chimneys and watches you all the time whatever you do. And then he sits in judgement over you like God saying if you have been bad or good.
It’s like a creepy stalker who leaves you things and sends good stuff if they think you have been good and bad stuff if bad. (And don’t even get me started on Elf on a Shelf.). Why do we do this? Heck if I know. But year after year we tell our kids of the creepy fat man in red coming down chimneys who spies on them all the time.
3) If you don’t bother (fill in the blank), they won’t bother you.
Who in the world believes if you leave someone alone, they will actually leave you alone? There are a million things in the world, where this is not true. Bullies do not leave you alone when you try to stay out of their way. In fact, they feed off of your fear of what they will do to you. I have tried to stay out of the way of bees and wasps, and I even had one recently dive bomb me several times until it was finally able to sting me. I suppose it ended up dead in the long run, but that didn’t make the sore on my foot feel any better. Things do not leave you alone just because we avoid them.
The greatest story of this I have was when I was eight. I saw a big black spider in the corner of the room when I got to my bed. And I told my mother. She told me exactly this. If you don’t bother the spider than it won’t bother you. Right. Well, my mom turned off the lights and began to pray. My brother and I shared a room and we had bunk beds. I was on the top bunk. Before long I felt something touching my face. Then touching my hands. And before long I felt it all over my body.
I told my mother and she tried to shush me as if I was just causing problems. But after several times trying to shush me and threats, she finally turned on the lights. Hundreds of baby spiders poured down from the ceiling and onto my bed. Evidently, the spider in the corner of the room had babies and I was their first meal. My mother promised never to let a spider go again. But what happened when I grew up? I started telling my daughter the same crazy thing. Isn’t the definition of insanity where you keep doing the same things over and over and expect a different result? Ugh!
4) Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Or it’s variant, every gray cloud has a silver lining.)
Now I don’t mean to get too nit-picky here. (Ok, maybe I do.) But seriously. There are plenty of things which do not kill you, and yet, you are just as weak as you were before. I can write a paper. Did it make me stronger? Maybe. Probably not. My dad had heart surgery. Did it make him stronger? We hope it might down the road. But in that moment? No. He wasn’t going out to run the 100-meter dash afterward, no matter how successful the surgery was.
There are all kinds of things which happen in the world not ending in death. And I am guessing the vast majority of them do not make you stronger. So why do we keep telling our kids this very thing? What in our minds makes this true, even when we know it’s patently false?
I know we are trying to improve our children’s mindset about whatever they are going through. Hopefully, we are getting them to see the big picture, and not look at things in the here and now. And of course, in a world of instant gratification, it’s hard to convince someone delayed gratification is better. It makes no sense to them. So think before you reflexively say this to your child. Because they might look at you like you are crazy.
5) I can’t believe you aren’t eating what’s on your plate. Think of all the dying children in China who are starving.
I think I would be a millionaire if I had a nickel for every time someone told me this as a child. (Maybe it’s because I didn’t eat everything on my plate very much, but there is a whole other discussion waiting to happen.) The truth is, people still repeat something like this or it’s variant today. My question is: Why?
First, are the parents seriously suggesting to send all the leftovers on a plane to those starving children in another country? Because I’m guessing the food will go bad by the time it gets there. I don’t think the people in China or Africa will be impressed by our moldy bread.
Second, you are implying there is no good reason why a child should not eat everything on his plate. Maybe he took too much, but this would require a whole other discussion, not including those starving children. But given the fact our kids tend to be overfed instead of underfed, I am thinking trying to make them eat more by shaming them into eating more might be a bad thing. Just saying.
Finally, I don’t believe guilt motivates people to do the right thing. I know sometimes it prevents people from doing the wrong thing, so you feel bad. But it won’t motivate the person to eat one more bite on his plate if he is full. And it definitely won’t motivate them to eat another bite if the food tastes awful to them. Consider this, some people have different taste buds. Cilantro to some people tastes like dish soap because it’s in their genes. If you made a dish with cilantro and your child has that issue, you wouldn’t force them to eat the dish soap just because you didn’t want to waste the food, would you? I would hope not.
I get it, you don’t want to waste food. But maybe thinking about how much is served, or how you can get your kids to eat a reasonable amount and then go back for seconds if they really like it would be the way to go. Let’s not have any more of this crazy talk.
Continue The Conversation
I know we think of all the crazy things children say. And they do say a lot of crazy things. But what kinds of crazy things do parents say? Or what kinds of things do you say which sound crazy the moment they come out of your mouth? I think we all have those moments. We probably have them more often than we would like to admit.
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Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life