Where am I, now three-plus years into parenting? I can change diapers, make baby food, clean bottles, clothe a struggling child, and a hundred other skills of extremely limited utility in the outside world. But the list of things I still attempt to do, despite regular failure, towers over the list of things I can do with success. So I give you the list of things that children hate but we try to do anyway:
1. Wipe noses. Evidently it’s better to have your nose run right over your lip and back into your mouth.
2. Select clothes. At some point a switch is tripped in the toddler’s brain. It goes from ‘whatever’ to ‘dress me without my consent and I’ll cut you’.
3. Offer food that isn’t fat, sugar, or carbs. This one makes a little sense—as adults we crave these things too but know better than to indulge. Kids can sniff out nutrients like bloodhounds looking for dope at a border crossing.
4. Wear jackets, hats, or mittens. Is it better to be warm and comfortable or free like a naked wood nymph?
5. Disrupt an activity. Were you finished eating your yogurt? If not, please proceed with a twenty-minute meltdown. If you were finished, you may have a meltdown anyway, no explanation needed.
6. Brush teeth. So you’ll spend half an hour gluing glitter and macaroni on construction paper but sixty seconds of brushing sends you over the falls?
7. Suggest an end to bath time. Doesn’t matter if the water is grey and has ice floes in it. Doesn’t matter that your skin is peeling off like soggy Kleenex. Mermaid needs her hair salonned and THAT’S THE END OF IT.
8. Fly peas on a spoon and into the mouth with less than two full oval holding patterns around the table. Don’t. Just don’t.
9. Go to school without something to show the other kids. Yesterday it was a stuffed pony with wings and extra long lashes. Today it was a pirate hat.
10. Suggest an indoor voice. Please, there are only two volumes: yelling and yelling+.
11. Stay close in an airport, shopping mall, or any place with thousands of people. We all know it’s more fun to dart away into the crowd then go limp and have to be dragged around like a garbage bag.
12. Wipe your own privates, flush, or wash your hands. Playing with water = fun. Playing with water and soap in service of better hygiene ≠ fun.
Please post this list in your child’s bedroom in case they forget some of these things or want to add their own. I’ll end with a picture of Toddler Harbat who follows these rules with military discipline. Please note that it is winter and she is outside without a jacket. Good thing you can’t see her runny nose.