When the kids malfunction…
Why did you make me play second base?”
The quote above is from the 1989 film ‘Parenthood,’ directed by Ron Howard. ‘Why did you make me play second base?!’ is what young boy Kevin cries out to his father Gil (played by the masterful Steve Martin) after he causes his baseball team to lose the game. Gil, a staunch fan of America’s favorite pasttime puts his unskilled boy in the position of second base and Kevin plays rather badly, causing an embarrassing loss for his teammates.
I was at Chuck E. Cheese recently, watching a toddler relative ball her eyes out in horror as she saw the live Chuck E. in front of her for the first time ever.
It got me thinking about how often adults put children in situations that the children themselves hate. And we just don’t seem to get it. We assume they’ll love it. Or we feel like said situation is a milestone, and we have to snap a picture of it for posterity.
When I was at the mall once years ago, I walked into the Disney store and saw an awesome Incredibles-themed Halloween costume. My nephew was a baby at the time but I bought the costume anyway for next Halloween. It hung in his closet patiently. I waited impatiently for next Halloween to come, knowing he would be so unbelievably excited about wearing that costume. Boy was I disappointed. He hated the damn thing. In fact, he cried miserably the whole time that he had it on. Cried miserably until we took it off him and dressed him in his—get this—Incredibles pajamas. So he wore Pjs for his first trick-or-treating, and was as happy as a boy could be.
Why do so many of us psych ourselves out about these perceived milestones in kids’ lives? Many of us react with sadness, disappointment or even anger when the kids don’t react how they’re “supposed to.” I’ve been guilty on a few occasions of building up of emotion and excitement before an event—imagining the expression on my beloved nephew’s little face the first time he enters the gates at Disney World, imagining how he’ll react when I take him trick-or-treating for the first time, imagining his reaction when I introduce him to larger-than-life Mickey for the first time at the Magic Kingdom. I’m now convinced that my nephew (and most kids for that matter) can sense it and reacts with anti-excitement just to show me who’s boss. Rightly so too—I’m not master of his emotions, nor will I ever be.
So in this post, I’ve including some pictures of these milestones-gone-awry. There are teary faces. There are eyes squeezed shut and mouths wide open, and you can hear the screams coming out of the photographs. These pictures make me laugh really hard and there’s something I admire about those upset faces, whose defiant expressions read, ‘nope, I don’t like it and I’m not gonna like it, no matter what you say.’ Kiddie protest, if you will; the precursor to armed struggle.
Hope these tears bring a smile to your face!
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
– Kahlil Gibran