Sorry, kids, you’re not allowed to do many of the things we do, all the time. It’s maybe because we care about you more than ourselves, so at least we’ve got that going for us.
Part of raising tiny humans is forbidding your children to do things that you, yourself do. Some of these things are safety related–adults generally have a better idea of when to cross the street safely or have the fine motor function to chop potatoes. Other things are more arbitrary. You could deny your child a thing because that thing is “bad for them” or because you are trying to enforce moderation. To be a parent is to be a hypocrite, and below is a categorized list of my contradictions for my daughters to use as a guide.
- I’m allowed to eat outside of the assigned dining area because I will not spill much, and if I do spill, I’ll clean up after myself. You have to eat at the kitchen table because, even when you eat at the kitchen table, you get rice everywhere, even if we aren’t eating rice.
- I’m allowed to sneak cookies when you aren’t looking because if you had a means of transport to a grocery store, currency, and a high shelf to hide cookies from me you totally would. Also, I have self-control because I’m a grown up and have never eaten an entire section of milanos in one sitting.
- I get to have soda sometimes because, while sugar will make me pouty and grumpy, I’m good at pretending like it’s other things that are bothering me other than my poor dietary choices, and I can internalize my grump, quietly. You, however, cannot have soda because you will turn crazy-pants-bananas and expect me to do things for you and comfort you and let you yell at me while I try to give you something else you ask for.
- I don’t have to eat tomatoes because I don’t like them. I don’t have to try them anymore. You have to try everything on your plate because you’re eight or five, and if we didn’t compell you to at least try new things, you’d eat nothing but carbs.
- Sometimes, I have cake for dinner.
- I’m allowed to play on my iPad whenever I want to. You get 15 minutes at a time, enforced by a timer. Whereas you’ll spend your time playing educational games that teach you about the world, I’ll spend two hours straight refreshing Twitter, hoping for new fave stars.
- Oh, a new game? I just impulsively spent $3 on a new puzzle game while writing this sentence. You have to save your allowance, which we keep relatively low so that you have to save for things that you might want and we hope that you forget about wanting them before you’ve saved up enough.
- I also get to have a computer in my pocket all the time. It’s connected to other computers wirelessly, which allows me to distract myself in an infinite number of ways. Sometimes, I play on it while I’m waiting for you to put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, etc. You can go to PBS Kids on the iMac, if you ask for permission first.
- I get to watch as much streaming video as I want. Four hours down a YouTube rathole? You bet. An entire season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? In my sleep. You get to watch one, maybe two episodes of Doc McStuffins, then are forced to play outside for at least half an hour.
- I get to hold my iPhone or iPad with one hand because my hands are comically large. You have to hold my things with two hands because your hands are tiny and they drop things frequently.
- I’ve been scared into paying attention to my surroundings. You’re still in the process of being scared. So, we’ll walk our bicycles across the big streets and you’ll hold my hand in parking lots. When I’m by myself, I ride my bike everywhere and walk through parking lots alone.
- I get to stay in the house by myself. Usually I’ll spend that time taking a nap, but sometimes I’ll turn up the music real loud or watch a movie with swears in it without headphones. You won’t know the joy of being truly alone in a space for a few more years.
- I can reach the stove, so I can cook hot things and see what I’m doing. You need to climb on a chair. Believe me, it’d be great if you started cooking your own dinner, but I still hurt myself cooking on a regular basis, so it’s going to be awhile before you get to.
Girls, most of the things I tell you not to do are for good reasons. We hope to teach you self-control, moderation, and how to make decisions for yourself. Your father is, however, imperfect and still does many of the things he tells you not to do. Keep asking me “why.” Keep challenging my reasons. Keep making me strive to be a better human and a better dad.
Photo by: Several seconds