Last night marked day #3 of Toddler Harbat’s routine evening meltdown. It isn’t really possible to put into words what it’s like to see a walking, talking, and rational child into a screaming and flailing wolverine. When I came home at six she was out by the pool painting my wife’s feet with watercolors. By 6:15 we were brushing the pool together. At 6:30 she was called into dinner, which meant she left all her stuff scattered outside and made a beeline for her room. By 6:35 she had no shirt on, at 6:37, no underwear. Getting her merely to come to the table was a screaming squirming melee with mostly incoherent babbles, but it had something to do with the fact that she couldn’t wear a certain party dress. NOTHING WOULD DO but she had this dress. Of course she didn’t eat the fried zucchini my wife made—wouldn’t even take a bite. She flopped from her chair, swatted at everything, it was utter hell for everyone. I eventually grabbed her and carried her now completely naked body back to her room and threw her into her bed.
“You want to scream? FINE! Scream here AS LONG AS YOU WANT!”
Well, that turned out well. Another masterpiece of parenting.
After a five-minute cooldown for everyone I went back in, got her into her requested party dress, and managed finally to get her bathed, her teeth brushed, books read, then we snuggled in her bed.
“Are you angry Babbo?”
“Not any more.”
“You’re my friend, Babbo.” [wraps her arm around me]
Though it acted as the water on the fire of my anger, it didn’t change my thoughts about parenting. First, parenting is completely on-the-job training. And once you’ve figured out how to do your job, the job changes. Mastered diapering? Too bad for you, because now you’ve got to learn potty-training. I can just hear the response to this: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing a great job.”
Don’t be so hard on yourself, huh? Look, I’m not building a birdhouse, I can’t excuse away dripped paint and slipshod carpentry because I’m Uncle F$#k-Up, I’m responsible for a human life. Mistakes and laziness have real effects, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t be hard enough on yourself. This is why I’m doing it:
I don’t care what the Peace Corps say, because parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love.