Choosing Your Battles, er, Metaphors

It could be the (nearly) five year old. It could be the boy. It could be being the big brother. It could be the moon. It could be the lack of sleep. It could be sharing a bedroom. It could be hormones in the milk. It could be the neighbour kid’s influence. It could be television’s influence. It could be genetic.

It could be all of those things.

It is probably all of those things.

It used to be easier to choose my battles. There were only three a week. I picked one. Now there are fifty a day and they cascade with very dark dependency and I don’t know if this hour’s ‘clean up your own spilled milk’ will affect ‘a quick pee before we leave for the park please’. Should I push it? Do I care enough? Will I have had enough sleep tomorrow to fight the ‘clean up your own spilled milk’ battle, or should I do it now because I’m going to be up late tonight and tomorrow it will be a far more bloody battle.

The battle is a series of fights. The war is parenthood.

No! Parenthood is not a war. War is real. War is terrible. Parenthood is long, intense, sometimes very fun, sometimes very not fun. A bad day at the beach is not armed conflict storming that beach.

New analogy!

Parenthood is a day at the beach. Sometimes there is duck shit everywhere. Sometimes it’s sunny and you get to swim. Sometimes you get sand in your drawers and it itches for a week. Sometimes the clouds roll in and suddenly you are very, very cold.

Parenthood is weather.

The forecast calls for sun and yet it pisses rain for a month. Every day, you examine the forecast closely. Every day, you stare at the sky and get rain in your eyes. Every day, you put your boots on and your same old smelly rain coat and you go out and you say, well, at least it’s warm. At least it’s not windy. At least we didn’t plan to go to the beach today.

I am approaching parenting the way I always have, with a reasoned approach, a few rules, plenty of discussion, and a boatload of hugs at the ready, but my advances are more often rejected in favour of being screamed at. He likes to scream at me. I thought the other day, “but, *I* haven’t yelled in weeks! It’s not me making him do this!” I really felt like it had to be me, like I had to be the one who was making him be who he is.

There is the secret. I am not making him be who he is. I never was. He was always him, with a fine shellac of me coating him. He is busting out of that shellac. He is him. Clean of metaphor, free of analogy. He is mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. If I could just get it, already. If I would just listen, he could stop screaming.

(but it’s still not cool to scream at your mother)

(I mean, I respect your autonomy and all)


I always write some variation of this post whenever one of my kids is about to bust out into a fully-rehearsed version of Guys and Dolls the Musical. But I never know I’m going to write this post when I start it. I always just start out thinking my kid is unbelievably annoying and at the end realize it’s growth.

The growing pains are for good. I know. It’s darkest before the dawn. I know. I can see clearly now the rain is gone. Etc.

But I still need to shake off his growing-angst, because it’s contagious. I will channel the energy into something else. Like, um, marathons? Or — hot yoga! I will turn on my fireplace and do yoga until the sun comes out.

When the sun has been out for a few days, I will forget about all of this rain. Until the next time. Being a parent is like being a cat … a Vancouverite … a goldfish …

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