I have a terrible habit of running a little bit late. I plan to arrive to events or to meet friends at the scheduled time, but then something gets in the way.
My 4 year old neeeeeds her pink shorts.
My 2 year old insists that she has to put her socks on by herself. (“I do it!”)
My hopes of being on time slowly slip away.
When we finally arrive and I apologize for our lateness, it’s tempting to blame it not-so-subtly on the kids.
“Sorry we’re late. Someone insisted on putting her socks on all by herself this morning, just as we were trying to go.”
It’s part excuse, part camaraderie. Every parent knows how frustrating these normal, little-kid behaviors are, and it can be validating to feel understood in our struggles. It’s also an easy way to connect with other parents. Who better to commiserate with than our fellow warriors in the trenches?
The problem is, we are not at war with our children. We are not in the trenches. We are living more privileged lives than most humans who have ever lived could have imagined in their wildest dreams.
So why do we complain?
In part, it’s human nature to want more. To want better. Thanks to early humans who were dissatisfied with the cold, we have the fire. Thanks to early humans who didn’t like carrying heavy items over long stretches of land, we have the wheel. We’ve come a long way because we refused to settle for the status quo.
When we complain, perhaps what we are really asking is…
Is there a better way to do this?
Does it have to be this hard?
Am I screwing this up?
The difficult questions. (Except the last one. You’re doing great.) It’s easy to play it safe by keeping the focus on someone else’s actions, especially our children’s. It’s more difficult to open up and admit that this is hard. Raising small humans is hard. Maybe there is a way to make it better. Let’s make that the conversation.
As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Instead of complaining, let’s find another way to bond with our parent friends. Let’s find another way to talk. Let’s find another way to think. Let’s bring the conversation into the realm of ideas.
Let’s reinvent the wheel.