I’m a pretty moderate guy. I don’t get mad much. I don’t yell. I don’t get into many arguments. I do like a good gripe from time to time. But damn if Joshua can’t drive me up the wall.

You’ve probably seen a frazzled parent losing their cool with a child that has not yet been issued any fucks to give. And you’ve likely shaken your head at the parent who can’t seem to keep it together. There are some times where that parent probably is kind of an asshole. Some people just don’t handle things well. But much more likely is that this is parent who has been driven to the brink by a small maniac.

Here’s what’s tricky to understand unless you spend really extended lengths of time with a small child: it’s not the big things they do that are maddening. A child that spills something or breaks something or what have you isn’t what will drive you over the edge. Those are accidents and more often than not they happen because your child has not yet figured out how something works. Adults know that milk will pour out of a glass that is tipped on its side, but kids won’t until they’ve done it once. More malicious acts like coloring on the wall or anything else similarly purposeful from a child aren’t that bad, either. They’re events that may make you mad, but you can work with that. It happened and you can scold and educate and move on.

What gets a parent are the small, simple requests that are met with an absolute steel wall of inattention. When you’ve asked a child for the 10th time to please come over so you can put their shoes on, or asked them to please sit on the potty for the 15th time, you’ll start to feel your armor begin to crack. It’s intensely frustrating. These are things that should be small. Needful moments dealt with immediately and left behind. But children make them both incessant and unending. Putting shoes on suddenly takes 15 minutes. Climbing into the stroller takes five. Going potty takes 10 minutes for the kid to get on and then another 10 of sitting there while he keeps announcing “I’m not finished yet.” Oh sure, you can try to force the matter. How much do you enjoy making children cry? I didn’t think so.

Stack enough of these banal moments together and it’s like water torture. The drips just keep boring into your forehead. On a long enough timeline, anyone will snap.

What is most maddening is that you are typically trying to accomplish something to specifically comply with your child’s wishes. When Joshua announces he wants to go outside, I grab some shoes and tell him that we can put them on and go outside. You’d think he’d be thrilled. “I get to do what I asked to do!” NOPE.

What’s that little guy? You want to go pee-pee? Alright! Let’s go upstairs and use the potty. NUH-UH.

You want to take a ride in the stroller? Let’s climb on up in that sucker and go for a ride. I THINK NOT.

Toddlers will ask do the things you then tell them they can do while they are intently in the process of avoiding doing those exact things. Is that sentence confusing? Exactly.

“Joshua, do you need to go pee-pee?”


“Then why don’t you want to go to the potty to go pee-pee?”

“Because I don’t.”

“But you have to go pee-pee?”


“Do you want to go to the potty?”


“Okay, buddy, let’s go.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“You said you want to go to the potty, though? Why don’t you want to go?

“Because I don’t. I have to go pee-pee.”



  1. #1 by Júlíus on November 20, 2012 - 9:17 AM

    Or trying to get a toddler to stop jumpin on the sofa, the bed, or really any “springy” place.

    • #2 by mscarpel on November 20, 2012 - 9:21 AM

      Oh yes. Jumping is a primary mode of toddler locomotion. Also: go-to dance move.

      • #3 by Júlíus on November 20, 2012 - 9:37 AM

        Emil has started skipping everywhere he goes. Sometimes he sings a song about skipping while he skips.

        • #4 by mscarpel on November 20, 2012 - 9:39 AM

          And that’s why we put up with them.

          • #5 by Vic on February 1, 2013 - 12:04 PM

            I thought the reason why we put up with them was because we are legally bound to do so.

          • #6 by mscarpel on February 1, 2013 - 12:33 PM

            Well yeah. That too.

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