Tough Kid Stages That Need an 'It Gets Better' Campaign

One of my least favorite parenting-isms is "This too shall pass." I mean, I understand why people say it, but just because I acknowledge its truthiness doesn't mean I approve of the saying, especially when it's cheerfully delivered to someone in the midst of a wildly difficult stage with their kid. Would you say it to someone suffering from kidney stones? Case closed.

The problem is that the core message -- which is enormously useful to a parent who can't see past the murk of their current situation -- is lost in the smug attempt at bumper-sticker brevity. I say it's time for parents to band together to create honest, authentic messages of hope for each other, and banish that annoying saying once and for all. Let's kick "this too shall pass" to the curb in favor of a brand new endeavor: a Parenting Gets Better project.

Advertisement

You're familiar with the It Gets Better project, right? It's all about having gay adults convey the message to bullied teens that life does, in fact, get better. That there's hope, and plenty of reasons to hang in there.

Well, I think parents could use something like this. You know, videos and essays from people who have been in the trenches, on every subject that tends to consume a new parent's life. For instance:

Sleep. This morning I had to pull the blankets off my snoring children and blare, "GOOD MORNING! IT IS TIME FOR BREAKFAST NOW!" It was 8:15 a.m., twelve hours after they'd gone to bed. Parents of wakeful babies, it gets better!

Poop and pee. The days of mining poop-flecks out of my children's scrotums? Gone. The unspeakable pants-scraping results of potty-training accidents? Over and done with. Lord knows my children can stink up a bathroom, and I do sort of fantasize about a lifestyle that doesn't regularly include pre-seasoned pee-sprinkled toilet seats, but for the most part the process of waste products leaving their bodies is no longer my responsibility.

Speaking of ... Hey, you know what's nice about older kids? Sometimes they actually realize they're about to barf, and they purposefully take themselves to a place where it's appropriate to do so. Such as, for instance, a bathroom. As opposed to suddenly without any warning whatsoever firehosing a stream of semi-digested macaroni and cheese directly into your face. Parents who routinely find themselves taking apart car seats to remove the puddles of puke, it gets better!

Bipolar emotions. I have one chronically moody kid and one kid who swings between being the happiest little person on earth and wanting to burn your house down with all your family inside. Which is to say, we aren't exactly in the land of 24/7 smooth sailing, attitude-wise, but it's a goddamned sight better than it used to be when they were younger. My god, babies and toddlers are perfect definitions of yet another overused chestnut: "Don't like the weather? Stick around a bit."

Eating. I certainly did not give birth to a couple of adventurous eaters, but at least we have moved past the Saltines 'N' Oxygen diet. Parents of insanely picky children who seemingly require no calories whatsoever in order to throw vigorous, anaerobic tantrums about the fact that you left a molecule of crust on their PB&J: it gets better!

Touchy personal choices. Breastfeeding vs. formula, attachment vs. CIO, daycare vs. SAHM, etc. All these things that seem SO HUGELY IMPORTANT when children are babies? Eventually you can hardly remember what was so fascinating about all that stuff. Trust me, it's very freeing.

The stressful inability to communicate what's wrong. Sometimes I think the hardest thing about parenting very young children is that you have to be Inspector Gadget, all day, every day. What's wrong, little Pookie? Are you tired? Hungry? Cold? Filled with existential angst? Angry about the fact that Adam Sandler was so good in Punch-Drunk Love and he's done nothing but pure shit ever since? WHAT IS IT OH MY GOD PLEASE TAP ONCE FOR YES TWICE FOR NO. Well, at least older kids can tell you what's bugging them. Of course, sometimes they don't shut up about it, but it's much less fretful than playing a 3 a.m. game of 20 Questions with an infant.

Now, you could definitely argue that it would be just as easy to create an It Get Worse campaign -- school problems! Friendships! The teenage years! -- but for the most part, I think it does in fact get better and better. I have wonderful memories of the baby and toddler stage, but I am glad, in a way, that it too has passed.

What do you think gets better about parenting as kids get older?

Image via stef thomas/Flickr

Read More >