When David and I were taking prenatal classes at the hospital before Nicole was born, the nurse said something I’ll always remember. She said, “Babies are irritated by everything, and everything you do to make it better irritates them more.” I thought of those sage words the other day as I was trying to coax Nicole out of a stinky, I’m-ten-not-a-teen-but-I’m-going-to-act-like-one mood, but everything I did made her more cranky. It was then that I realized that the nurse’s advice applies to every stage of parenting.
Babies are irritated by everything and everything you do to make it better irritates them more.
Tweens are embarrassed by everything and everything you do to make it better embarrasses them more. (Note to self, do not sing Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive” out loud in public with your children nearby.)
Teenagers are angered by everything and everything you do to make it better angers them more. (In other words, don’t try asking them about anything without expecting a surly response, in fact growling and hissing may even be involved.)
College students are always in need of money and the more money you give them always makes them need more. (Second note to self, change phone number, email and mailing address as soon as they head off to college. They can’t get money from you if they can’t find you.)
So if we irritate them, embarrass them, anger and enable them, why do we subject ourselves to this parenting process in the first place? It seems like it would be a win-win for kids and parents. But no one said parenting was easy. In fact, they said just the opposite. My friend Miriam once said that the divine plan was to make babies so cute so that you would forget about all the other crap you have to put up with. And they are cute, even if it can be tough going sometimes.