I hit a low point as a writer other day when I made this notation in a journal-
“<heart eye smiley face>” I’ve had to admit that I’m becoming (perhaps) overly dependent on emojis as a form of emotional expression. My conspiracy-minded self things that maybe I’m getting sucked into a giant group-think plot: to limit our emotional vocabulary to yellow faces on a keyboard. Once that becomes mainstream, they’ll slowly take all the bad feels away one by one until we’re just those little Lego guys, happily singing “Everything is Awesome” while the world burns.
(Related: I saw the Lego Movie for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I laughed my head off.)
We’ve been potty training this summer. I say “we” deliberately; although I’ve let the process be as child-led as possible, we all know that no little person becomes a bathroom-independent human being all on his own. Behind every boy in dry undies, there’s a mom on her knees Cloroxing the bathroom floor (again).
I’ve scratched my head at who decided two (or 18 months, or three) was the prime age for potty training. The process goes against all parenting wisdom by giving the child access to the three things that should be most forbidden at this stage of life: unlimited candy, an excuse to grab at the private parts, and instant access to a parent’s attention 24/7.
With one word, a child can guarantee that Mom will pull over the car, bolt out of the church service, abandon the shopping cart, jump from her warm bed, or cast aside the other siblings, all for some quality one-on-one time. Speaking of conspiracies, I think our toddlers might have pulled one over on us.
So in the world of preschool TV, I think Daniel Tiger is great. I also recognize that every family is different and special in its own way. But has anyone else noticed that the family groups in Daniel’s neighborhood are especially–how shall I say it– unexpected? Miss Elaina does not seem to be a biological product of her two parents. (Family building through adoption is a wonderful thing, but if that’s what happened in this family, why haven’t they made a song about it?) King Friday is at least 30 years older than his wife, and is unrealistically spry for a septuagenarian father of a teenager and a preschooler. Daniel’s own family is unusually traditional, but then out of nowhere, his grandfather turns out to be some kind of a French mariner. What?
If any of you are Daniel Tiger experts and there are some back stories that I’m missing, please enlighten me. (Or maybe you’ve just made some up; I’d love to hear those too. I’m working on some myself.)
My last conspiracy for today is that sometimes I really believe my children are purposely trying to make me lose my mind.
But I had the most encouraging conversation with another mom at a birthday party and I thought I’d document it here, for some day that I need to remember her sage insight. (I’ve told this story a few times lately, so if you’ve already heard this, forgive me. I’m the kind of person who spends her spare time making up back stories for characters in Daniel Tiger so clearly I don’t have lots to contribute to the Great Conversation these days.)
Anyway, she was describing family dinners with her kids (her youngest is Abby’s age), and she said, “And at some point we looked at each other and realized we couldn’t remember the last time someone had fallen out of their chair for no reason.”
I stopped her in the middle of the story. “You mean to tell me your kids did that too? And they stopped?”
It’s such a silly thing, but it really did give me some helpful perspective. I’ve universalized the moral I drew from that conversation: it doesn’t matter what the weird or annoying behavior is, my children are not the only ones. And, he or she will probably outgrow it. This understanding enables me to persevere in the face of irritation, and even to be able laugh at my children’s strange behaviors, of which spontaneous falling out of chairs is only one of many.
I am sure I could write a book for moms that would sell a million copies. It would have one page, and it would read: “You are not the only one. This too shall pass.”
On that note, Happy Fourth of July, y’all.