Recent brunch experience:
Me: Table for three?
Smartly dressed parents: Well, we need a minute. Sweetie, what do you want for brunch? Do you want eggs? Do you want to stay here?
Smartly dressed parents: Oh, okay honey. Sorry, he wants pancakes. You don’t have those do you? We’ll have to come back.
Of course, I start laughing, because they have to be joking, right?
They’re not. They look at me, visibly confused and a little angry.
Smartly dressed parents: Sorry, he really wants pancakes. We have to go. But we’ll be back!
First, I thought DAK! was pancakes. That’s what he said initially. What the hell is BAA? Oh, maybe it’s eggs Florentine. We have that, so you should stay. Or maybe he’s 14 months old and isn’t saying anything. That could be a possibility, right?
Second, please don’t come back. You’re failing miserably at parenting, and may be a bad influence on the rest of the new mothers and fathers that like to hang around these parts. When did our toddlers start deciding what we have for brunch? Actually I shouldn’t say that. My child always decides what I have for brunch. It’s usually an English muffin with cream cheese because those things are stocked with some regularity in my fridge.
We don’t go out to brunch. My son is 15 months old. He wants to toddle around, yell, and throw things. He mostly loves being the loudest voice in the room and tossing things over his shoulder, like he couldn’t possibly have any use for them. These things are totally awesome (to me) and totally normal for a kid his age. Which is why I don’t attempt to strap him to a high chair for an hour, in public, before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.
That is just the obvious choice, for me.
But I digress. Back to these particular parents, and their foodie toddler. Their toddler is literally deciding what they are having for breakfast. This is not okay. This is why most children you meet these days are little assholes. This is why the future of civilization as we know it is basically doomed.
Somewhere in the last decade or so, the kids got all the power. Parents of the world: We’ve got to get it back.
As I write this, my beautiful, perfect child is licking the floor. Oooh, now he’s seeing if he can fit his whole foot in his mouth. Do you think it is appropriate for this unrefined being to decide where we’ll be brunching today? No. It’s not.
Herein lies my first guess about our collective loss of parenting power; we have become so obsessed with “milestones” and if our children are reaching them, that we are constantly pushing them to be more advanced than they are, and actually believing our own bullshit.
For example, your 13 month old isn’t perusing the menu – she’s guesstimating how much of it she can fit into her mouth. That is normal. That is fine. What is not normal, is assuming that she is doing anything other than the obvious. You see, when you are operating on the assumption that this little being you created has as much intelligence as you do, it starts to seem normal to defer decision making to said being. You never hear parents bragging about how much their child likes to try shoving their rolled up dirty diaper in their mouth, or how they have an amazing affinity for sucking on slippers. I mean, why brag about that stuff? It’s base, and sort of barbaric, and not very impressive. Better to talk about how they’ve mastered sign language to communicate all of their needs, can pick out their favorite bedtime story, and know how to say “clap hands” in Spanish. Right?
Wrong. Vicious cycle begins. We become so paranoid about keeping up with other parents and their super accomplished children that we never really honestly speak about our parenting pitfalls – about how unimpressive our child’s development might really be. We just constantly want to keep up, I mean, I’m not a good parent if my child isn’t keeping up, right? So rather than seeing our children for what they are, we push them to be what they’re not.
And they end up deciding where we are having brunch.
That is how it happens.
Your child isn’t saying pancakes – and that’s okay. And you are the parent and get to decide what you’re having for breakfast – and that’s okay, too. Stop seeing your child as the next Steve Jobs, and start seeing him as a little animal that needs training and guidance.
The future of our civilization is depending on it.
Related post: Dear Parents: You Aren’t That Special