Why Parenting is so Hard and Why I Deserve It

How every parent of a two-year old feels

I recently had the following conversation with my 28-month old son, Lukas.
Me: Lukas, would you like some chicken nuggets?
Lukas: [screaming] I WANT CHICKEN NUGGETS!
Me: OK, would you like me to cook you some?
Lukas: [screaming, laying on kitchen floor face down] I DON'T WANT CHICKEN NUGGETS!!!!
Hmmm, we've seemed to have reached an impasse. Feeling slightly flummoxed, I tried a different line of questions.
Me: Um, Ok. Would you like to go for a walk? Maybe we can smell the daffodils by the church [he loves smelling the daffodils by the church, as evidenced by the photo below. Note: This photo is from a separate trip to the flowers.).
Lukas: [screaming] I WANT TO SMELL THE FLOWERS!
Fast forward three minutes
Me: Lukas, why are you laying on the ground? I thought you wanted to smell the flowers?
Me: [feeling confused] OK, do you want to go home?
Lukas: [screaming, still lying on the ground] I DON'T WANT TO GO HOME; I WANT TO SMELL THE FLOWERS!
Me: [trying to remain calm] Ok, we can smell the flowers. Do you want to walk or do you want daddy to carry you?
Lukas: [screaming] I WANT TO DO IT BY MYSELF!
Me: [unsuccessfully trying to remain calm] Ok, then why are you still lying on the ground. Let's go, Bud.
Lukas: [screaming] NO!!!!
Me: [no longer calm] Ok, I'm not really sure what to do with that. Do you want to go home?
Lukas: [screaming] NO!
Me: [whispering under my breath "remember you're in public...remember you're in public...] Do you want to smell the flowers?
Lukas: [screaming] NO!
At this point I had to fight every urge to either lie down on the sidewalk next Lukas and join him in crying. Roughly nine hours later we completed the .3 mile walk to the flowers. Lukas smelled every flower while I softly weeped.

Yesterday when I got home from work we had a similar experience--this time over going to get the mail. It should be noted, Lukas and I have a very strict routine. I get home from work, I gave him a big hug, then we go get the mail together. He loves it and refers to himself as the "Mailman" (this is the only similarity between Lukas and Karl Malone). However, Lukas for some God-only-knows-why reason, decided that on this particular day, he REALLY didn't want to go get the mail.

Well, that's not entirely true. Depending on the precise second he either really wanted to get the mail, or somehow getting the mail was the worst and most inhuman form of torture.

We got the mail. But it wasn't pretty.

Terrible Twos 

I've heard people reference "the terrible twos." Usually it's brought up with a chuckle and accompanied by a ho-hum phrase like, "Yeah that was no fun!" Then they smile and talk about how their expert parenting and discipline strategy effectively turned their son our daughter into one of these:
These people are either 1) The best parents on the planet, 2) Liars, 3) Don't actually have children or 4) And probably most likely, their child has been genetically modified. We've tried just about every form of discipline and parenting style on the planet. Yet Lukas somehow fluctuates between this:

and this:

[for those of you that don't get that reference, click here]

Logically, and almost daily, I find myself pleading to God, "Why, Lord, why would you do this to us? What did we do to deserve this?!?!?!?!" Poor theology aside, I got to thinking. Is there something that we did to deserve it? Then it occurred to me in a moment of complete enlightenment. 

I did deserve this.

In a flash, my own childhood rolodexed through my mind. And then I remembered one fatal decision I made when I was 10 years. This choice would ultimately would shift the course of humanity for all time. 

I decided I wanted to become a drummer.

You might be thinking, "There is no way that your decision to become a drummer would somehow cause your son to be a terror." Well, you couldn't possibly be more wrong. Not only did I decide I wanted to play drums, I ALSO decided that I didn't need lessons and would go the "self-guided" route. If I'm being honest, at my best I sounded similar to this (wait for it):

At my worst it sound a lot like this:

I don't believe in karma, but I do believe in consequences for the decisions we make. My son, bless his heart, loves trains, dinosaurs, "diggers" and playing with his drumsticks. 

For the pain and suffering I caused my family while learning to play arguably the most annoying beginner instrument of all time, I deserve every outburst and irrational debate with my son. Every infuriating argument over whether the chicken nuggets or too hot or too cold and whether or not we should watch Daniel Tiger for the 16th straight time are all part of me developing the same patience my mother somehow procured. 

For the record I hate Daniel Tiger. 

Of course I don't actually believe any of this to be true. But anyone with a child ages 2 to 22 understands you have to figure out some way to laugh off this craziness. If for no other reason than to prevent the tears--both your child's tears and your own. 


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