Top 7 Parental Pet Peeves
The Never-ending Bedtime Routine
There was a time when I’d tuck my children into bed and whisper sweet nothings like, “I love you more than all the stars in the sky” or “I love you all the way to the moon”. We’d kiss, hug, give each other fist bumps and then they would peacefully drift off to sleep. I really do remember this happening. . . maybe twice. Let’s be honest – more often than not, bedtime consists of negotiating with my tiny, demanding CEOs for different books, sips of water, and last-minute trips the bathroom. This is a seemingly never-ending sequence of events, and once the light turns off and the door gets closed, all hell breaks loose in their secluded mischief chamber. Through their deafening cackling, I can hear them using their mattresses as trampolines as they playfully hurl stuffed animals at each other. The years may be short, but somehow bedtime is 576,923 days long.
Masterful Mess Makers
Whether they’re excitedly rummaging through my makeup drawer or converting the walls of our home to crayon-based mural drawings, only one thing is certain – my toddlers love exploring the world one mess at a time. My very own apprentice demolition crew, I can always count on them for wrecking any semblance of order in our home. Like pint-sized dump trucks, they load up purses and other containers with junk from their play area and haul it to other rooms, where it will be dumped, dismantled and ultimately abandoned. The cumulative effect of this behavior results in the transition of our orderly apartment into a treacherous Lego minefield. And speaking of messes, does anyone else spend an inordinate amount of time daily touching things in your home and wondering why they’re sticky?
Much like the uncertain outcome when leading a horse to water, there is never any guarantee that my children, who have willingly arrived at the dinner table, will actually consume the food they’ve been given. Mealtime wouldn’t be complete without at least one of my kids refusing to eat what’s been served, even if it’s exactly what they asked me to cook for them. Sometimes it even seems like it might just be easier to cut out the middle man, throw away an entire plate of food and squirt ketchup all over the floor. With a promising future in quality control, my toddlers will examine their food, searching for any inconsistencies in color, texture, or shape before protesting anything that fails to resemble the usual mealtime offerings. I wish I was as brave as my 2-year old who proclaims her tummy is too full to eat her dinner, but then asks me for a snack five minutes later.
Walking Petri Dishes
The careless touching of contaminated surfaces is behavior I will never comprehend. Despite my excessive warnings not to touch germy surfaces, my toddlers seemingly can’t resist dangerous play dates with pathogens. A ride on the subway isn’t complete without caressing every square inch of the train car and tracing shapes with their fingers on the murky brown window panels. What better opportunity to taste each finger than after pressing the elevator button inside the Times Square subway station? These unsanitary habits make me cringe, and once the germs enter our home it’s only a matter of time before we find ourselves battling a household epidemic. Actually, spending all day recuperating in bed doesn’t sound so bad, Oh wait, I’m a mom! Scratch that idea.
Just once, I’d like to wake up with the same renewed sense of optimism as my 4-year old who just asked me for the 20th day in a row if he can have M&M’s for breakfast. I now realize that all of the things my sweet babies were trying to tell me when they were infants were probably just demands for more snacks and toys. When my 2-year old optimistically asks to bring her tablet into her crib at nap time, she seems genuinely bewildered as I tell her “no” for the 427th time.
Declarations of Independence
Shortly after they begin walking and talking, toddlers develop a ferocious determination to do things on their own. “No, let me! Let me!” is a phrase I’ve heard at least 10 times even before my kids get out the door in the morning. Toddlers seem to have a warped sense of reality when it comes to their physical limitations and often don’t have the necessary skill set to complete more difficult tasks without help (although offers to help are usually met with resistance). For instance, my 2-year old will often demand to change her own diaper even though clearly this is a recipe for disaster. Only after a 5 minute standoff (and maybe bribing her with my phone) does she relinquish diaper changing duties to me. And explaining to my 4-year old why I cannot allow him to drive our car feels like bargaining with a tiny dictator. But I have to be flexible. When he insists on pouring himself a cup of milk from the 1-gallon jug, I take a step back and feign a smile as my whole life flashes before my eyes.
The Backhanded Snot Wipe
Despite frequent hand washing and our best efforts to sanitize everything that comes through our door, it always seems like we are fighting a losing battle against an endless onslaught of runny noses and low-grade fevers. No need to panic, however (or buy tissues, for that matter), as most toddlers have mastered the haphazard movement of snot across their faces by utilizing the back of their perfectly dimpled hands. This maneuver defies all logic and often leads to bothersome irritation of toddlers’ sensitive skin. That glistening coat of dried mucus often masks cheeks that are chafed, crusty, and in dire need of some TLC.