Hang around a group of moms for a while and you will hear them talk about their kids. This is because they adore their children more than life and would do anything for them. The oxymoronic thing, however, is that no matter how much they love their kids—and trust me, they do—they are not bragging about how polite Jenny was at dinner or how cute little David was when he told his dad thank you for taking him to the movies.
They're talking about how Jenny threw her french fries at the waitress and how David chased the pigeons into the street outside the theater. They are discussing how Tiffany never stops whining and how Jonathan won't look up from his video game.
You know why? Because kids are jerks. We love 'em and they will probably grow up to be awesome, but kids are hardwired to push boundaries and that inherently leads to them being tiny little balls of obnoxious. We need to know that even though we are trying so hard to teach our kids to be good little citizens, we are not the only ones who hit speed bumps along the road.
So, in the interest of solidarity and letting you know that you're not alone, do you want to know what I find annoying about kids?
They treat you like a human trashcan/coat rack/backpack/garbage disposal. It's too bad that their tiny hands aren't capable of holding their Popsicle stick once all the Popsicle is gone. Or they will spit their undesired food into your hand. Also, you will carry their coat, right up until the moment they need it. The other day, my 10-year-old walked up to me with his backpack and manipulated my limbs until I was carrying it. Who does that?
You have to be selfless around them. No matter how many times you told your kid that he should bring a sweater with him, when he doesn't and he gets cold, you have to give him yours. I took my family to Alcatraz on vacation this summer and ended up walking around in the wind in short sleeves while my kid wore both my and his sweatshirt. Being willing to give up your coat is actually in the papers they give you to sign before you take your kid home from the hospital.
They make no sense—but they are adamant about their inconsistencies. My youngest son just started taking gymnastics class. He was outraged that his teacher didn't show him how to do back flips. "You have to work your way up to back flips," I told him. "Keep working hard and you'll get there." To which he (loudly and desperately) responded, "But I don't waaaaaaant to do back flips." Kids are confusing.
They get to do fun things while we have to sit in waiting rooms thinking of ways to pay for fun things. I want to learn how to do back flips with the cute gymnastics teacher.
Even though you know they're never going to eat all of it, you have to give them the best piece of cake. If you don't, you look selfish. And when you're teaching your kids to not be selfish, you can't elbow them out of the way to get to the cake first. Taking the best or first thing for yourself makes you look like a jerk. So you have to hide your candy.
They have an uncanny ability to find parents' candy stashes. Those were my Hershey's kisses, sweetheart. Get your grubby little mitts offa them.
They have selective hearing. They can't hear me calling their names to put their clothes in the hamper or come to dinner, but they can hear me unwrap a Hershey's kiss from three rooms away.
They are rapidly getting smarter than us. When my middle son was in third grade and had done one of his math worksheets, I very confidently told him that he had done it wrong and I started to show him how to fix it. That was when my oldest son stepped in and told me that it was right the first time. On closer inspection, I realized he was right. It's only going to get worse from here.
They will always take your spouse's side. My kids hear my husband complain about me leaving my sweatshirts all over the house—what? I get cold easily—so they complain whenever they see one. My oldest totally has my husband's tone down when he says, "Mom, can't you pick up your own sweatshirts?" Then there are the times when we split up into two cars, kids and I in one and my husband in another. "Poor Dad," said my oldest one time. "I feel bad that he has to drive all alone." Yeah. I bet he's way upset.
The whining, oh, lord, the whining. If I have to say, "You don't get what you want by whining," one more time, I will lose it. Also, kids don't like it when you whine or cry back at them to make a point. It makes them even madder.
They force you to love them unconditionally. The reason they have us wrapped around their little fingers is because we love them so very much. Every mother I know would walk through fire for their kid. So, I guess really when we're talking about all the jerky things they do, we really are talking about how fun they are and how much we love them. That's why we always give them a second chance and a hug after we get mad at them.
Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland; an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and a column called Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey.