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exposing myself as the tyrant I really am

exposing myself as the tyrant I really am

January 23, 2007

Parenting older children is hard. They don’t really have those moments of overwhelming cuteness, the kind where you want to grab them and bite their cheeks, so great is their cuteness. At least with toddlers you have that. That is their survival mechanism; toddlers have evolved to be so cute so that parents won’t throttle them or drop them off in the wilderness.

I was musing on what the survival mechanism of a preteen could be. I came up with the fact that they are now the same size, or larger than you, that alone would make the throttling difficult. And forget about dropping them in the middle of the wilderness. They know how to get back home. Probably before you.

A friend of mine told me once that teenagers behave the way they do so that you won’t be too sad to see them move out.

Yesterday my 3 yr old daughter clutched the tivo remote to her chest and looked up at me with such happiness, the sort I would have if someone told me I won a million dollars and chocolate cake had no calories. “Mommy, tivo loves me.” She had just discovered that tivo had saved a Little Mermaid cartoon unasked by us.

Her joy was the only thing that I stopped me from blurting out, “No, I think tivo hates me.” Her joy is also what stopped me from deleting it after the 50th viewing and saying, “Guess tivo saw you hit your little brother, huh?”

Compare this to the way the encounter would go with a twelve year old. Twelve year olds are more apt to wave the remote control around in the air in front of you while demanding to know what happened to that show. When questioned about what that show is called, they will roll their eyes and something coherent like, “The one I am talking about.”
Finally the encounter will end with much eyerolling (theirs), exasperation (both of you), and confusion (yours).

This past weekend I had to wear my I AM THE MOM hat; the one which co-ordinates perfectly with my BECAUSE I SAID SO t-shirt. I hate wearing those.

My son wanted to buy a huge lego set he saw on ebay. A huge set that had an opening bid of $250 plus another $50 for shipping. A huge set which is comprised of many smaller sets that he already owns. And while, in theory, I generally believe that he can do what he wants with his own money. This one was not one of those times. Much like if he told me he wanted to spend $300 on some crack or for a hooker. This was one of those times that I felt I needed to stand up and say, “No. You may not have this.”

To say he was mad would be an understatement. I tried to be understanding. I was gentle but firm. I sympathized with his plight as a poor sufferring oppressed child. The parenting books would have been proud of me. But after awhile, after hearing the “You can’t tell me what to do” and the “You aren’t the boss of me” and the “It’s my money, not yours” arguments, which oddly did nothing to change my mind. Finally I had to pull out my trump card.

“You aren’t getting it because I SAID SO.” End of the discussion. At least for me. He continued to “discuss” for a long time afterward. And I ignored him.

Give me toddlers any day. They rarely brood for hours over some perceived injustice.

“I can’t believe you washed that drawing off the wall. I worked on it so hard. I loved it. Why do YOU only get to decide how to decorate the walls in this house. It isn’t fair. You’re so mean. It’s my house too, you know.”


Posted by Chris @ 10:33 am  

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  1. Darren McLikeshimself says:

    Oh, come on, Chris. You can’t really compare Legos with crack or hookers because Legos are SO much better!

    But, yeah, why are Legos so expensive?

  2. cassie-b says:

    I love little kids. They can be so entertaining, and not even know it.
    They are by far my favorite people.


  3. CathyC says:

    Yikes! I can hardly wait. I agree about toddlers being cute is what saves them. I have 2 right now. A 3 year old, and a 1 year old, and they’ve been fighting like cats and dogs all morning. I would have gladly sent them to the moon by now if it weren’t for their adorableness.

  4. Lori says:

    This was so great! And toddler’s do not have the vocabulary to argue ALL.DAY.LONG about anything. I’m not sure my teenager and I can agree on anything except to disagree some days. I had a friend who used to put her children outside in a chair when they talked back. She said when they learned to talk respectfully they could come back in. Our almost 17 year old was lobbying for a basketball hoop or large weight sets this year and we told him no also because he is going to college in 18 months and we do not want to be his storage bin for the next 6-8 years. I hope you have a great day with lots of toddler kissable-cheek cuteness.

  5. Jess says:

    Oh yeah give me the 4yr old tantrums over the 11 yr old’s eyerolling, foot stomping, and URGH any day of the week. Telling myself “this too shall pass” does not work as well as it used too.

  6. Mary Anne says:

    I would choose that fight carefully. At least with legos he will be quietly occupied for at least part of a day while he assembles the set and then for part of a day when he reassembles it ito something else. Of course the quiet will end when the 2 and 3 year olds dissemble the first project for him!
    I miss the lego days. What a differece a year makes. Now we argue about WII’s and the need for a cell phone! The legos, enough to assemble scale models of new york, Sit unused in bins in the storage room.

  7. inthefastlane says:

    I always like to look at my kids while they are sleeping. Even my 7 year old still looks angelic while sleeping. However, just going into my 12 year old’s room makes me want to cry. And I could kill myself, walking in there in the dark, there is so much stuff on the floor. So, I really have to work to find those cheek pinching moments, which as you said, is not easy.

  8. Woman with Kids says:

    I think Boy 1 must live at your house too… would you mind keeping him? You’re right it’s hard to throttle (or my favorite, hang them from the ceiling by their toes) when he can pick me up. “Boy 1, put me down so I can ground you. Where are you taking me? Put me down… please?”

    And your friend is right, the way he acts, I’ll have no problem when he goes to college. I might start packing for him this evening.

  9. Nicki says:

    Could you please explain this process to my 4 year old? He obviously is hitting preteen 6 years to early!! He was so upset last night that he threw every sheet/blanket/pillow…etc on to his floor. All because he refused to give me a goodnight kiss and I left the room. The tantrum lasted for about 30 minutes!!

  10. Danielle says:

    This is exactly why I am terrified of teenagers. I don’t know what to do when sweet baby boy turns evil. I suppose they just survive based on the past years of love and cuteness. Good luck

  11. Cheryl says:

    Wait until they want to drive YOUR car….the day my now 16 year old leaves home will be one of crying fits interspersed with maniacal laughter!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Wendy says:

    You are the expert, so I will go with what you are saying. However, I saw my 4.5 yr old in the pre-teen description. I am very scared for the future and hope my baby boy stays cuter much longer.

    Although, I find the 4.5 yr old very cute and funny when she yells at me and basically acts like a pre=teen. I guess that does keep me from selling her on ebay.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I figure if they like me too much and haven’t declared that I’m the “meanest mother in the universe” in a while, then I can’t possibly be doing my job very well. In this house I have a hard time arguing money matters with children who don’t have enough sense to bathe regularly or even flush the toilet when they’re done using it! Oh, and didn’t I warn you about tivo? My kids know more about the remote than I do…but do they willingly shower or put on deodorant? Nope.

  14. Denise Spangenberger says:

    I’be been a “lurker” for some time but your post today is so true! When my son (now 25) was 17, I put my favorite picture of him from kindergarten on the refrigerator, just to remind myself daily why I loved this kid and maybe I should hang in there with him just a little longer before leaving him in the wilderness!!! I have to say, now that he’s 25 it was worth the wait…he turned out fine afterall. Hang in there!

  15. bgirl says:

    Congrats! It would have been easy to give in once the “it’s not fair” talk started!

  16. dcrmom says:

    Ugh. I’m dreading it. You’re right. They are just so dang cute when they’re little, you can overlook most of their atrocities.

  17. Mrs. Schmitty says:

    So, that’s what I have to look forward to? I have a 3 and 4 year old at home. The 8 year old is still young enough to be throttled. He is already a pro at the eye rolling so I better get my licks in now! :)

  18. CAS says:

    What about all the “faces” those pre teens and teens use along with the eye rolling? My 11 yr old daughter has perfected looks that if I were to interpret them for her it would be a “I defy you” look on some days and an outright “I hate you” on others. It’s the looks that get me.

  19. Kelly says:

    OMG, i had pretty much the exact same conversation with my 8 year old 2 days ago. it was over Nike Shocks (or shox?). Would you have gone for that? He just got those stupid Heelies for christmas…now this. perhaps love of shoes is the only gene he inherited from me.

  20. Mudderof3 says:

    I always tell my preteen and teenager when they start their “Oh poor me” routine… Why don’t you write your Congressman? It makes them stop and stare at me like I have lost my mind. (which if they go on and on even another second I probably would have) Then they say..”what does that mean”? *rolling their eyes*. It means for a tenth of a second you stopped complaining :)

  21. Tricia says:

    I’m thinking that sweet boy of yours might be able to write a nice letter to Mary Anne…I hear she has some extra Legos sitting around! ;) Seriously, I am scared for those years. Our oldest is ten…

  22. anna says:

    Your friend was only half right. It is true that teenagers act the way the do so that you won’t be too sad to see them move out, but they also act the way they do so they won’t be too sad to move out.

  23. Susan says:

    I hear you. My 11yo has recently heard a lot of, “I’LL give you something to pout about!” coming from yours truly, Mommy Dearest.

    I was not a rebellious or disrespectful pre-teen or even teen, so I have an especially hard time with the general spoiled brat sense of entitlement that seems to have completely taken over 99.9% of children these days. Mine included.

  24. J. Fergie says:

    I don’t even have a great comment to make but I just loved this post and wanted to let you know! I guess I will keep biting my daughter’s cheeks as long as they’ll let me :)

  25. Blaine says:

    12 is a challenge indeed. I know…I have two twelve year olds. Ugh!!

    Yesterday they both had the day off from school. It was one of those evil Teacher Inservice days. Don’t all the useless Holidays in January and February cause enough Mondays off from school?! I digress. So, my son and daughter were having a seemingly minor disagreement about a television program. Apparently, my son said just the perfect thing to get firmly under my daughter’s skin (not hard to do when you’re referring to a pre-pubescent girl). With all the guile she could muster (pretty impressive, really), she told him he needed to respect his elders. She was referring to herself; the queen of disrespect. Not to mention, she is only 8 WEEKS OLDER THAN HIM!!! Lord help us all!!

  26. Mir says:

    I’m sending all of my pre-teens to you. In fact, Chickadee should be there in about two year, mkay? Thanks!

  27. Heather says:

    My husband often says, “if they weren’t so cute they WOULD be dead” about the little ones. I have two stepsons (12 & 17) that make shudder thinking about the girls growing up.

  28. Jamie says:

    Thank you for giving me new insight on my two under the age of five daughters and for instilling fear in me for the pre-teens they are to become! ;)

  29. InterstellarLass says:

    I always like to append the “with my permission” phrase to the end of their “I can do what I want”. And when they ask why, I remind them that they live for free under my roof, they’re under 18, and until either of those facts change, any action on their part requires my permission. It’s the law. :)

  30. kalisah says:

    The other night I picked up my 13-y-o from the movies where he & his friend had met their girlfriends. While he got into the car, the girls, waiting in front of the theater for their own ride, waved goodbye to him. Instinctively, without even thinking about it, I did the unforgivable: I waved back.

    He didn’t speak to me for the rest of the night.

    (I have so much to learn.)

  31. MamaGeph says:

    I am so not looking forward to this time. Sigh.

  32. jen says:

    Legos at yard sales, the only reason I hit yard sales.
    And what does it say about the future with my oldest son when, at age 5 and three-quarters, he and I have the very conversations you describe. He has actually said, “The one I am talking about.” Whimper… And he’s had one-sided conversations with me similar to the drawing on the wall. Oh help.

  33. jody2ms says:

    We are there too. I have to pull that hat out more than I like as well.

    One thing I am enjoying is that our relationship is moving to a deeper level. He doesn’t just say “Nothing” or “I don’t know” when we try and talk with him. We have some fun conversations now that don’t include graphic descriptions of the newest Bionicle. Thank the stars for that!

  34. judi casey says:

    and you are just entering “the dark years”. good news is, they reemerge into the light somewhere in college. it is the best feeling to rediscover them!

  35. Annalise says:

    Lots of empathy here - I found toddler-ness infinitely, infinitely easier to deal with than teen-ness.

  36. ben says:

    I guess now wouldn’t be a good time to suggest to the child “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

    (a rule my kids seem to live by)

    Um, he doesn’t read here, does he?

  37. Pastormac's Ann says:

    Yup, have both a pre-schooler and a teenager here and a few in between. All I can say - I understand your pain (and your joy.)

  38. rachel says:

    oh yeah. I have the toddler alone today, and dear lord it is so much easier.

    “It’s not fair!” is said so often around here. Along with “You’re not the boss of me!”

    Could we find a time machine and go back to when they were all 2?

    One of my friends had a 2yo and a 12 year old, and she said they acted the same, but she could physically move the 2yo, the 2yo would nurse and calm down, and the 2yo’s cuteness was overwhelming. Not so much with the 12yo on any of those. gah.

    (oh, and thanks for this - I thought your older kids were perfect - they always look so helpful and wonderful in pictures!

  39. Kristi says:

    He will certainly thank you one day. Like in college when he is down to his last dime but then remembers that $300 in his savings account that you refused to let him spend on such frivolity. Yes, those beers he buys with it will be toasted in your honor!

  40. Kerry says:

    Oh, come on people! Tweens, while they can be about as much fun as poking yourself in the eye with a pencil when they want something that you won’t give them, they do have their good moments. I LOVE that I can “hang out” with my preadolecents. I love that they get my jokes, and that their jokes finally make sense. It’s not all bad. Unless they want something. Then it’s bad.

  41. julie says:

    When my oldest was 12 he entered the dark phase. Now he is 15 and I can already see him coming out of it. I love this age. While he still doesn’t agree with all of our rules he is old enough for us to talk and him not to freak out (most of the time). Hang in their, teens really can be fun!

  42. Heather says:

    When my son was two, I use to call my mom and tell her I was sending him to her. I always asked her how many airholes I should poke in the box. She ’s a nurse. I figured she would know.

  43. Heather says:

    I wish I could tell you after they hit the age of twelve, it all gets “better”. It doesnt. They just get more sarchastic and I honestly believe they study ways to out speak you in a debate about curfew, dating, piercings and cell phone overages. Yeah. It. Just. Gets. Better. I speak from experience. (ahem) ;)

  44. meredith says:

    Ha, I’m a tyrant, too. I’ve been know to stomp off saying..”You have to, because I am the Queen.”

  45. peepnroosmom says:

    Oh, I feel for you. If Peep rolls his eyes or sighs one more time I will scream. About dropping him off in the wilderness, he would love that. And if he says “you’re not me and you don’t know” one more time I will scream. Give me a toddler any day.

  46. Cmommy says:

    My 13 yr-old introduced us to the world of “being-the-parents-of-the-boy-who-snuck-out-with-three-friends-and-TPed-the-neighbor’s-house”
    on New Year’s Day.

    You make me smile and LOL–thank you!! I am thrilled to know that you are sharing parenting moments from the land of teens. :-)

  47. Cmommy says:

    oops. sorry…I messed up your page!

  48. Holli says:

    You’re my idol! You stood firm! I tend to cave after the first couple of hours and he’s only 6! I don’t know what I’ll do when he’s a teen and can out-wit me!
    I’ve told my son so many times he’s only alive because he’s so stinking cute!

  49. Laurie says:

    I must have one of those oddball kids - my 6 yr old could EASILY hold that against me for weeks, nay yeeeeeeeeeeeears (yes, even when he was four).

  50. cole says:

    I was the worst teenager. Crazy, scantily clad, heavy scary makeup, messy room, large vocabulary and balls to use my words and eye rolling to make my moms hair fall out and want to kill me.

    I am very afraid of the karma that may be coming my way in a few years. Mine are only 3 and almost 6.

    I had the first glimpse of “ugh, oh gosh, you are gross…” yesterday dropping him off for school. We were in the closet hanging up his stuff and I bent down to kiss him and hug him (which usually I have to pull him off of me…) and he said, after 2 kisses, “okay, MOM, go…” and put his hands on my shoulders to turn me away , his eyes quickly darting around to see if anyone had seen us kissing in the closet.

    I have been teaching him the mantra, ” I will only love you mama, forever…” Idon’t think it is working like I thought.


  51. kim says:

    I’m feeling your pain, trust me…i hate these teen years…i have to keep my mantra…don’t kill the teen, don’t kill the teen…he’s driving me absolutely freakin nuts!!..i’d blog about it…but it never comes out as funny as yours!!

    you are really truly great!

    you make me laugh every single time!

    I think you are such a great mom, and your kids are so lucky to have such a funny mom, even if you are serious to them…to have this funny log, you have proof in the future..see i was funny and having fun when you were driving me batty!

  52. qtpies7 says:

    Great post! LOL I have teens and toddlers. Yep, its a fun one most days. I battle a 3yo all day about going in the potty and not on my bed. Then argue all night about why chores need to be done before computer play and homework and why girlfriends are bad news and why you can’t yell at me. And still have to convince the 3yo she can’t pee on her bed, either.