Thursday, July 12, 2012

The SIU & SYM school of happiness

For a variety of reasons, I've been around some very unhappy toddlers lately.   Whiners.  Screamers.  Yellers.  And I totally blame the parents --- not for getting those kids into a state of grumpiness in the first place, but for keeping them there by trying to reason with them.  When Sam Screamer didn't get the toy he wanted at the yard sale, his dad started asking him, "Well, do you want to get into your stroller?  Do you want to ride on my shoulders?  Do you want to go with Mommy?"  And Sam, instead of calming down, threw a temper tantrum I could hear a block away.  The fire department could have used him on one of their trucks.  Oy.

It's an irony of rearing kids that the parents who seem not to care about their kids' whiny preferences -- the ones who say simply, "Max, quit that noise RIGHT NOW" -- tend to have not only quieter kids, but also happier kids.  Just watch them in the store; they move past disappointment quickly.  Whereas the parents who try to placate their kids can nurse along that nasty mood for a half-hour or more.

It is probably no surprise to you that I'm of the SIU & SYM school of the pursuit of happiness.  (Um, that stands for "Suck It Up and Shut Your Mouth").  When you don't get exactly what you want from someone else, stop being a brat; deal with it; move on.

Which is why it's so embarrassing and awful that the biggest Wanda Whiner around here lately has been me.

Maybe I've been hiding it a bit on the blog (although maybe not).  But my friends and family have had to bear with my breast beating.  They've had to listen to my laments.  They've been cornered by my complaining.  

Like a spoiled little six-year old, I've complained to anyone who will listen that I've been stuck at home this summer, forced to take care of my kids when really what I want to do is math.  I moan about how my husband has done-gone-and-left-me for his army training, leaving me all alone.  What's worse, I'll say to anyone not yet avoiding me, is that my husband will be going to Afghanistan for a year, and I'll have to be a solo parent AGAIN.  Oh, the unfairness of it all!

Last week, I realized I'd reached the edge of some scary cliff.  I was telling my sister that my husband has been feeling really achy, and that he was going to be tested for Lyme Disease, and then I said -- get this -- that it would be a good thing if he did have it.  Because then he wouldn't go to Afghanistan, so I wouldn't have to take care of the kids by myself.

How sick is that?

It's true that some parts of this summer have been difficult.  It's also true that much of this summer has been a really good bonding and learning experience, so much so that I know our family will be stronger and happier for it.  And it's triply true that thinking of myself as a victim -- instead of as a woman blessed with three hard-working, polite sons who actually get along with one another and don't whine like that brat at the yard sale -- well, all this whining is merely a nasty way of nursing my own little inner temper-tantrum.  It's not going to change the circumstances of the upcoming year.  (It's not even going to help the fire department.)  Time to suck it up and get over it. 
Religious aside:  As I was writing this post, thinking it sounds all campy like Norman Vincent Peale's "Power of Positive Thinking", I just happened to get whacked in the face while reading the Bible.  In John, right after Jesus says those famous comforting words about "God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son," He mentions that He comes not to condemn but to save the world.  What does condemn mean?  He describes -- not fire and brimstone, as I would have thought -- but people who "seeing the light, prefer the shadows".  In other words, virtue may or may not be its own reward, but preferring the kvetchy life is definitely its own punishment.
As I said, time to buck up and get over myself. 

And by the way, no, my husband doesn't have Lyme Disease, just tight muscles.  And yes, he's leaving in October or November for 12 or 13 months.  And given how much the boys and I have learned by working together this summer, I think we're going to be just fine.


  1. I absolutely cringe *cringe*! when I hear people trying to reason with 3 year olds about subjects beyond their current capacity. Can they not see the toddlers are in over their head? emotionally spent? Don't add to their burden. Give them direction and Move. It. Along.

    Says the armchair parent.

    Also, I'm glad your guy doesnt have lymes and that mathless or no, you having a pretty ample summer. Despite yourself.

    1. What you said. Thanks for the encouragement! -- MM