I equate being a parent to being in the movie Groundhog Day. You ask your kids to do the same things day in and day out, getting the same exact response every time, hoping desperately for things to change.
But they don’t. Kids always act surprised and indignant when you tell them they have to do something like, say, brush their teeth, or clean up the mess they just made, or get dressed. Those three things are pretty much the only responsibilities small children have, yet when asked to do them, you would think they have never been asked to complete such egregious tasks before.
Every. Single. Day. It’s the same thing:
Parent: “Time to clean up your toys!”
Kid: “What?! Nooo!”
Parent: “Time to brush your teeth!”
Kid: “What?! Come on!!”
Parent: “Time to get into your pajamas!”
Kid: “WHAT??? Are you kidding me??”
Parent: “Sit in your seat when you’re eating dinner!”
Kid: “I forgot!”
So, if being a parent is like being in Groundhog Day, then I suppose that being a kid is more like being in the movie Memento, as they can’t seem to recall anything from the previousday. Or the day before that. Or the day before that. The only thing missing is the tattoos all over their bodies to jog their memories. Maybe I should give that a try…..
Anyway, I often wonder what it would be like if adults reacted to things they have to do every day in the same manner children do:
Cashier: “That’ll be $27.50.”
Adult: “What?? I have to pay for this?! Come on!!”
Kid: “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Mom: “What?! I don’t wanna cook for you!!”
Husband: “Honey, do I have any clean pants?”
Wife: “WHAT??? I don’t wanna do laundry!! NOOOOOO!!!”
Okay, maybe I already react that way to doing laundry a little bit, but you see what I’m saying. That’s why we as parents have to keep plugging away, making our kids realize that there are just some things in life you have to do. They can complain about it, or they can just suck it up and do it.
Okay, maybe I should take my own advice. Either way, without pestering our kids, we may very well end up with an entire generation of adults who act surprised and indignant when something is expected of them.
Every now and then I see a glimmer of hope, like when I ask my kids to get ready for bed and they actually do it. The first time I ask. Without any whining! I make sure to point out to them how much easier life is when everyone listens and does what they’re supposed to do.
But apparently, positive reinforcement is a load of crap, because they forget that also, and the next day we’re back to more of the same, and my own, personal Groundhog Day relives itself yet again.
(A version of this post originally appeared on Suburban Misfit Mom.)