Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Who Cried This Morning? 

by | Feb 25, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

Parenting and learning the value of everything we hold dear (21/40)

“Who cried this morning?” is a game I like to play when I drop off my daughter.

I look at parents and kids in the schoolyard and try to guess who cried before leaving the house. It is typically not the kids.

Typically, it is the parents who, presented with the task of getting kids out of the house, come close to losing their minds every single morning.

Instead of letting go of the mental reigns of reality, they opt to push forward and get those kids in school — not without first giving themselves a small window opportunity to cry and to mourn the freedoms they had before they had kids.

Most of the time, my kids are loving, kind, and mellow girls, but the holidays turn them into tiny, vicious, gift-opening Tasmanian devils.
They will rip through the wrapper, open the box, look at the inside, take out the toy/book/colors, maybe be thankful for a second or two, and then throw the gift on the giant pile of gifts and then move on to the next one.

When they are finally done, they will look at their uncles, aunts, and grandparents and ask, “Okay, where is my next gift?”

Then and only then will they start playing. But not with the gift.

Oh, no.

They will start playing with the boxes the gifts came in. They will say, “Let’s pretend these boxes are blocks,” and you will tell them. “That’s exactly what those expensive blocks I bought you are for.”

I know that, eventually, that gift-opening drive will abandon my kids.

We all learn to manage it after our tenth birthday when we get a big wrapped squeeze bag, and you know you can wait to open it because it is a bag of fourteen white ankle socks someone got you at Costco.

Christmas time can be so disregulating for young kids. Actually, it can be disregulating for everyone. A time of joy and celebration is replaced by the stress of decorating, overindulging, and braving maniacal drivers to shop for that special hundred people.

Shopping is probably the hardest part of it.

Before Amazon, everyone had one person in their lives who was difficult to shop for because it was the person who had it all.

Amazon has turned every single person in our lives into the person who has it all. Now everyone has it all because everything can be bought cheaply with one click, and it will get delivered to you the next day — or your Amazon Prime Day if you choose it to be delivered in fewer boxes because you care about the environment.

So, yes, Christmas is hard for everyone, but it is particularly hard for young kids.

I know now that it takes me about two weeks to regulate my daughters, which is not that bad since it is about two months of events, shows, gift opening, and candy eating if you take Halloween into account.

Recently, my wife was the one who almost cried in the school parking lot. As she was getting ready to drop off our oldest daughter, Jovie, she just hung on to her and refused to go in by crying hysterically.

She stayed with her, trying to calm her down, but after twenty-five minutes in front of the school gate, she decided that it was a lost cause, put Jovie back in her seat, and drove home to her mom’s house.

Then, the afternoon came, and it was time for ballet. I offered her the opportunity to stay if she didn’t want to go. But she swore that she did.
As parents, we are always optimistic. It is the only way to survive this maddening task of turning little animals into decent human beings. So I thought, “Sure. A little rest, and she will be like new and ready to relevé.”

We headed to ballet.

The class started, and Jovie asked me to come and get her off the stage. She has done this before. I typically stand to the side of the stage and ask her to stand with me and watch her friends practice. A way for me to show her that even if she doesn’t perform, she still needs to support her friends.

Typically, Jovie watches her friends, takes a few deep breaths, and joins back.

But this class, she wouldn’t move from my side and kept asking to sit with me back in the chairs. A few minutes later, I decided she wouldn’t join today, and it was time to go.

She is not even five, but the expectations I have of her are so unrealistic,

“Stay still.”
“Listen to class.”
“Imitate every single movement the teacher makes.”
“Stretch your legs and arms in these unnatural ways.”
“Understand commands in French.”

And most of the time, she can do it. I have seen her do it, but I should grant her the clemency not to do it sometimes.

On my walk back to the car, I could feel myself getting progressively frustrated. In the morning, she missed her toddler care, and now she missed her ballet class.

Once I had buckled her in her car seat, I launched into my sermon about the value of money. One that I have never made myself and that I have not heard since my mom would get upset with me when I was being “wasteful.”
“You know we can’t just waste money. This class right here” (the one you didn’t ask for) “costs money!” 

I could see at that moment that I had lost her. Money? What a concept! The ridiculousness of my sermon came rushing into my head.

“You know money? I know you don’t because when I go shopping at your fake ice cream shop, you hand me a wooden cone with three wooden scoops of ice cream, and you hand me money for stopping by.”

“You know money?” It used to be backed by gold. Now, it is backed by the promises of politicians. It’s a convoluted economic and geopolitical system that assures us that the number on the bill is what it’s worth. At one point, people wanted it to be backed by silver, and then some people say that’s what The Wizard of Oz is based on, that and the American populist movement.”

“You know money?” Now, money is irrelevant because of blockchain, and there is a Japanese dude nobody knows, and there is a monkey, and he was worth a lot, and now he is not. But nobody remembers because robots who are not robots but code in computers are coming to get us.” 

“You know money?”

My daughter deciding that she wasn’t at an emotional or physical place to go to school or ballet made me realize not only that we hold on too tight to things that don’t really matter but also that I don’t understand money.

I don’t think anybody does.

That moment, when I was about to torment my daughter with flawed concepts of waste and value and hungry kids in Africa, turned from a flash of ridicule to a flash of insight.

I stopped my sermon. I drove home and did my best to finish dinner and nighttime routines. That flash of insight helped me finish the night without crying.


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