I was chatting with a friend of mine who has a two-month-old. And, I remembered how hard it was with a baby that young. Ghastly hard. And, as you know, I was just the Daddy (Mommy had it much, much worse).
Then, I remembered this abandoned post which I never finalized from a couple years ago. I’ve polished it up a bit.
(Caution: Yeah, there’s language.)
Please, let me have my suffering.
I’m heading down the ice cream aisle at the supermarket with 7-year-old Julianna and 5-year-old Isabella when the biggest tantrum in the history of tantrums erupts.
Julianna: I want Mint Chocolate Chip… No wait, Cookies and Cream. No… I can’t decide…
Me: Honey, please pick one. But, only one.
Isabella: I want miiiint!
Things escalate voraciously. Before I know it, both children are screaming and flopping on the floor over ice cream. In Aisle 6. On the floor. Over ice cream.
There are details I’m skipping here, but it was several minutes of pure Parental Hell. Then, an older lady looks at me with a mixture or compassion and arrogance:
“Just wait until they are teens,” she says.
Did she not see my stress? Or, the blood vessels straining in my neck? Or, the flailing on the floor on Aisle 6? Aisle Fucking 6?
Who the Hell asked you, Lady?
I ignore her, and eventually slog myself through the checkout line with two screaming kids. I think I settled on vanilla. No one won. No one was happy. Especially the checkout teller.
It was a long battle. But, I will say, at no time was I embarrassed by this (because, I don’t know those people. Plus, I know they’ve been through it, too), nor did I lose my temper. I was a pillar of parental stoicism.
The car ride home, though, was another story. Quite tempestuous. Things ramped up.
The screaming continued on the ride home. “I wanted mint!” “I couldn’t decide!”
I yelled. They yelled. The light turned green. But not a LEFT TURN green. Fuck! Why are there no Goddamn left turn arrows in a city of 8 million people? (Another rant, coming soon. Are you trying to get me started?)
When the regular light turns yellow, I haul ass, and avoid being T-Boned by a Dodge Durango.
I get them home. But, I can barely contain my pissed-off-ish-ness. I scoop out the vanilla ice cream. “You will eat this!” (There may have been expletives. Probably… Definitely. Yeah, expletives. Well… At least in my head. Colorful ones. The most colorful ones. Painting a picture of expletives. Like Rembrandt. Again, in my head.)
But, I begin to calm down….
Then I think…
How DARE that grandmother tell me “Just wait until they are teens.” What Bullshit is that?
She’s forgotten how Goddamn hard this shit is. I had one girl pulling at the ice cream case while the other was on her back, kicking and screaming on the floor. Tears. Shrieks.
Since my girls were born, I’ve had innumerable friends, family, and complete strangers try to outdo my struggles with the “wait until” line. They always take glee in knowing that things will get worse for me. For my wife and me.
Why are people like this? It’s not a competition. Seriously. Not a competition.
Why can’t they accept that this, right now, is pretty fucking damn hard?
Here’s the “Wait until” mantra:
Wait until she is eating solids.
Wait until she is teething.
Wait until she is crawling.
Wait until she is walking.
Wait until you try to potty train.
Wait until Pre-School.
Wait until 1st Grade.
Wait until 8th Grade
Wait until her first date.
Wait until she’s driving.
Wait until she turns 18.
Wait until she’s in college.
Wait until she gets married.
Wait until she has a daughter.
Invariably, the next step is ALWAYS worse.
Why do people insist on doing this? Are they trying to make me feel guilty even before worse stuff happens? Are you a better survivor than me? I don’t understand.
Yes, each step is incrementally more difficult than the previous one. But, the fact that I survived the previous step means that I am ready for the next one. My daughter going to college will be tough. But, the fact that I suffered through her ice cream tirade is part of the reason she got there to begin with. Stop trying to outdo me in the difficulty factor.
So, to everyone who wants to tell me how much harder it is going to be:
Please, please… Let me have my suffering.