I’m a bad parent. I’m impatient, I’m inconsistent, and I frequently fail to realize that my eldest daughter’s behavior is PERFECTLY NORMAL for a two-year-old. I almost always make my daughter’s tantrums worse by responding exactly the wrong way when she starts to get frustrated. She’s smart, funny, and sweet, and all I do is make her world an even more confusing and disappointing place.
A couple of days ago she was showing me some recent accomplishment of her’s (likely the way she had arranged some toys). No tantrums; no power struggles; just a happy child interacting with her parent.
But all of a sudden she looked at me with pleading eyes and said “Daddy BE HAPPY.” Without even noticing it, I was being short with her. You can probably imagine my tone of voice (“Yes honey, I see your Elmo… Yes, he’s standing on the garbage can… yes, Elmo’s standing on the garbage can”), seeing only repetition as she gives words to the world around her and the things she’s done.
I could share a hundred worse stories here, especially concerning tantrums in public places and arguments with my wife, where I’ve later been ashamed of how I treated (or behaved around) my daughter. Zygotedaddy laughs at his two-year-old’s tantrums and demands and has fun watching him “turn into a real person, with all of personhood’s accompanying idiosyncrasies, neuroses, and tics.” Aside from the deveopment damage I’m probably doing to her, I really need to turn myself around before she can remember this stuff for the rest of her life.