Thursday, October 7, 2010

The thing I wished for didn't really make me happy. Now I kind of feel bad for the kid

The last time my mother babysat, she left this little present for Junior:

I’ve written before about my disdain for Caillou, the sickly looking character on PBS Kids. Junior loves him; I feel nauseous whenever I see him. The life depicted on the TV show is sickeningly sweet. Yes, it’s a kid’s show but do people really giggle incessantly over nothing? Does the family ever have a bad day?

Apparently, yes. Caillou and his family do have crappy days—in their print lives. “Caillou Hurry Up!” features a leaner and meaner Mommy and Daddy. In fact a more apt title for “Caillou Hurry Up!” might be “Mommy and Daddy Resent You, Caillou, Because We are Tired and Overworked.”

Without boring you, a quick synopsis: Mommy and Daddy oversleep. Mom tells Caillou to eat breakfast. The damn cat knocks over a plant. Dad yells at Caillou to get dressed then shoves the cat outside.

On the way to get dressed, Mom screams at Caillou for not eating breakfast. Then, tragedy strikes: younger sister Rosie is sick. Mom has to drag her to grandma’s so she can go to work. Caillou tries to liberate the cat. Daddy loses his shit on Caillou for not eating or getting dressed and—horrors—wanting to go to grandma’s too.

Caillou cries. Daddy apologizes and says he’s tired, blah, blah, blah. Mom pours her Screwdriver into her travel mug and whisks Caillou off to daycare. The end.

With each page turn, I grew more depressed. Where were the giggles and hearts I so despised but Junior so craved?

Save the whales!

I felt I needed to give Junior a post-story recap.

“Look,” I told him, “it’s not Caillou’s fault his parents woke up in pissy moods because they can’t properly set their alarm clock. And it’s perfectly reasonable he’d want to protect the poor cat and go to his grandmother’s. He’s four. Everything about his behavior is normal for a child. The morning’s derailment is Caillou’s parents’ fault, not Caillou’s.”

Junior said he understood, but when he wasn’t looking I hid the book under the couch cushion.

I tried to understand why I was so bothered. Why did I care so much about a creepy, hairless kid? Then it hit me. The story reminds me of what I hear in grocery store parking lots and on playgrounds and at daycare and pre-school drop-offs every day, which is: WE ARE IN A HURRY. MOVE IT. COME ON! GET IN THE CAR. GET OUT OF THE CAR. HURRY UP. I SAID NOW.

Just yesterday I watched a mother slap her son for shouting good-bye to his friend from his carseat because “We have to get going, Bradley!” This morning, as Junior and I walked into pre-school, a mother threatened to leave her crying daughter in the parking lot because “I’m going to be late for work, Cassandra! HURRY UP.”

This hurry-up-or-else mentality is kind of horrible, and it’s kind of prevalent.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we slowed down for a minute and really looked at what our children are asking of us while we’re doing all this yelling. That little boy in the carseat was excited to say good-bye to his friend. That little girl just wanted to spend more time with her mother. Stupid Caillou just wanted to save his fugly cat.

Now I don’t know, maybe Bradley yells from his carseat 24-7, and his mom has had it. Or maybe Cassandra cries and dawdles in the parking lot every morning, and her mother has had it. I’ve certainly lost my patience because Junior is taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to walk to the car. And I’m certainly not suggesting we put life on hold to meet our children’s every whim...

...But it seems that there are a lot of people who are perpetually pissed off at their kids because they’re a hindrance to their busy schedules, and the bottom line is that it’s not the kid’s fault.

(Did I mention I really hated "Caillou Hurry Up!"?)

I’m making a conscious effort to hurry Junior less. I really am. If you’d hurry up and comment, DAMMIT, I’d know how you feel, too. I MEAN NOW. YOU'RE MAKING US LATE.


Getrealmommy said...

I love and hate this post. Love it because it is funny and you make a very good point. Hate it because I think you are talking about me. I find myself in this situation too often, getting frusterated with slow poke kids because I'm on a grown-up schedule.... bummer.

VandyJ said...

I say hurry up all the time. But I get reminded to stop and look at all kinds of things I don't normally look at because they are new to Bruiser.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the few moms I knew who loved Barney. Why? Because at the end of that god-forsaken program, my toddler son would throw himself at me for an I-love-you-you-love-me cuddle.

Maybe now you won't hate Caillou as much as before?

rachel... said...

I bet it WAS Caillou's fault. I bet he was screwing around with Mommy's clock radio and f@#%ed up the alarm setting.

That's how it works in my house, at least.

Frogs in my formula said...

It probably was the kid's fault. Lol.

Lindy said...

Dude - I call bullshit.

It is BECAUSE of my kids that I am always in a hurry. Between high school sports practice, middle school sports practice, Volleyball lessons and Girl Scouts - if I am not in a perpetual state of "go" - I am crashing on the couch and won't be able to get back up.

I don't know *where* they got their "want to be involved" attitudes from. It's freakin killing me!

heather said...

I hate hearing parents yell at their kids in the store. Why did they have them if they make them so miserable?

Frogs in my formula said...

Yah, but being busy with kid activities is different than being pissed off at your kids all the time because you need to get to work* or squeeze in grocery shopping or you have zero patience.

*As a working mom I am in no way saying working parents are bigger offenders. I've seen it go down both ways.

The Mother said...

We moms just aren't perfect, damn it.

If we don't hurry the little ones, the older ones don't get to school on time, and then they get in trouble for something they didn't do.

Or we don't get to work on time, and we have to take our lumps from the boss. Maybe lose our jobs.

It would be so grand if we could live life at the pace of a toddler. Alas, the world doesn't work that way. We have to say "hurry up," and fairly regularly.

Or, we can just put them in the car naked, throw their clothes in after them, and head to school. Trust me, it works.

Anonymous said...

You know ... is your last 15 minutes of sleep that precious? Just think ... if you (you being universal, not anyone here in particular) just woke up 15 minutes earlier, you'd be far less hurried.

When you're calm and in control, your children feel calm and in control. And think how many squirrels you could feed in 15 minutes. (My kid always wants to feed the squirrels. I generally let her because I don't have anywhere to be that's more important than letting a squirrel starve. lol.)

Of course, even though I work, I don't have to take my kid to daycare. I'm sure that makes a difference. I can't imagine having to wake her up every morning and hurry her to get dressed and eat and all that stuff. :(

And I don't know where this mentality of, "if our kids want to do 14 activities every week, we have to let them do EVERY ONE even if it means we aren't home a single night." Whatever happened to saying, "No, you can't do that. I'm the parent and I'm not going to raise my family amidst chaos and I'm not going to spend my whole life tired because I spend all night every night driving."

Mama Badger said...

It's a fine balance between having enough time, but not too much time to do things, at our house. When we're rushed because I didn't make enough time, I get pissed at myself. Clearly, my two year old isn't setting the schedule. When we have too much time, and he realizes that he can dawdle, or play a little, then that makes us late, then I get cranky. On perfect days (read: almost never) we have just enough time to get it all in without anyone melting down.

Keely said...

@marytb: I've tried that 15 minutes. Half an hour, even. My kid STILL manages to dawdle the time away and we end up late.

I think about this a lot. I try really hard not to get irritable - it's not like I'm super invested in my job, after all - but sometimes it's ridiculous the time he can waste. I try to strike a balance. He's a person, after all, but so am I, we just have to work out a compromising agenda.

Anonymous said...

@ Keely. lol. Yes, I suppose my system has a flaw when dealing with uncooperative people. lol.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

You're so freakin funny.

Frogs in my formula said...

I'm certainly not suggesting we strive for perfection, nor am I saying we live life at the pace of a toddler. We'd never get anywhere. What I am saying is that if you're constantly barking at your kids to hurry the fuck up, maybe you can make some minor adjustments so you're not pissed off at your kids all the time.

A Mom on Spin said...

Great post!

And there's even something to be learned from a much-older me who still resents the time my college-aged children take from me. . .

Nanc Twop said...

Maybe those dawdling toddlers just needed a bit more professional encouragement...

Kerry said...

This post made me laugh (thanks!) and also really sad (sarcastic: thanks!). I have the same feelings about Caillou. Not a fan. I also hate how his name doesn't looked like it is pronounced. Unless you are French. I am not.

Anyways...the book sounds awful. And those parents! The real ones, not the book ones. I always feel sad too when I hear those things. Like I just want to borrow the kid and give em a big hug. I can not ever imagine talking to my daughter like that no matter how late we are. "Time spent with your kids is never wasted time" right?

Sparkling said...

Hmm, you hate the TV version of Caillou because it's too rosy and fake but you hate the book because it's too real. Interesting.

Jenni said...

Look, Caillou is an asshole and we all know it. He's such a frickin whiner.

That aside, I'm totally guilty of rushing Oscar, but I don't even know why.

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