Parenting is a joy, and it’s really strange. On paper, my conversations with my toddler would probably look like a transcript of spies speaking in code.
Here are just a few of the ridiculous sentences I find myself saying every single day.
1. Not until you put pants on.
I was prepared for adult life to involve a lot of compromise and negotiations. What I didn’t see coming was the necessity to use a cartoon about friendly pirates to bribe a tiny clone of my wife to get dressed.
2. You can use it, but it’s my iPhone.
I love that way before my kid could say the word phone, she could unlock mine and open YouTube. I’m glad she’ll be around to help me in a few years when I finally lose track of technology. But she’s starting to think it’s her phone. It’s mine. My two-year-old does not own a smartphone. I swear.
3. Take that out of your mouth.
This one’s really common, but that doesn’t make it any less weird. Before parenthood, I was intentional about never ever getting involved in what other people put in their mouth. I look forward to recovering that neutrality once my toddler is grown. For now it’s a constant discussion.
4. Sit down so I can push you around the park.
John Steinbeck wrote that one of the great human triumphs is the ability to know a thing and not believe it. So does my daughter know, deep down, that one day when she’s grown and busy and tired, she’ll wish someone would walk up to her, hand her a cup of almond milk, shove her into a chair on wheels, and take her on a leisurely ride past the pavilion and communal gardens? Even if she knew it, she wouldn’t believe it.
5. The dreams that you wish will come true.
I agree it’s a dubious claim. It reinforces personal exceptionalism and sets up some pretty confusing disappointments later on in life. I know a more responsible line would be something like “the dreams that you wish might not come true, so let them motivate you to work hard and be generous.” That just doesn’t sing as well at bedtime.
6. Take a nap. Right now. Please.
Like every single parent, I owe napping a huge apology. I cursed it with extreme prejudice for years, and now it’s too late. I want to reconcile, but napping has long since moved on. So I’m left reheating coffee at two in the afternoon as I beg my toddler to do the very thing I’m dying to do: nap right now.
7. I’m not going to tell you again.
This one is just a bald-faced lie. On my best days I follow through right away on my threats of discipline, but chances are today is not one of my best. I might tell her two or three more times before she finally lets go of my shirt and lets me wrestle her hair into a dad-style ponytail.
8. Because I said so.
When did I start talking like an ageing dictator with delusions of grandeur? I don’t want to teach my kid to blindly obey authority figures. I always planned to reason with her, laying out the logic behind what I ask her to do. But then she learned that question. The ultimate stalling tactic. The weapon of choice for every rebel in a diaper: why? I tell her not to stand on the table. Why? Because she might hurt herself. Why? Because that’s how gravity works. Why? I don’t know, child. Because I said so.