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What Makes Us Cranky

February 5, 2013 - Jen Zbozny
Parenthood makes us fierce. It's an astonishing thing to discover that once you have a child, the formerly mild version of yourself can get its cranky on as quickly as your two year old can throw a tantrum when she's tired. Since we try to teach our children healthy ways to deal with what upsets them, I'll play too. I'll give you my list of what makes me cranky today and hope you can give me some constructive feedback. I'm willing to listen. I swear.

Here's my current round up. I'd say i'd write 10, but i'd be way too cranky when i finished. It will change as Eve changes I'm sure. Feel free to commiserate.

6. Parents should pay attention to how their kids interact in public play spaces. If yours and mine are at the play area at the mall and you know yours is a rough, brawler sort, (or mine is the dawdling line-stopper), it's your job to intervene. Don't wait for some other kid's parent to have to sort of cough loudly and say, "Gee, precious son of mine, I don't know why that kid keeps hitting everyone and just gave you a concussion, his mom needs to put him in time out." None of us wants to have to do that. It's a simple courtesy. Of course if your child is fifteen, he should be capable of working it out. And he probably shouldn't be at the play area at the mall either. I of course am rather vigilant about announcing "Slide down or get out of the way!" at regular intervals. So much for peaceful daydreaming for me at the mall play area.

5. People should remember that places like Eat-n-Park are called family restaurants for a reason. Families go there. Families have children. Sometimes children are little and sometimes little children make noise and messes. People expecting five star service in a zagat guide establishment with intimate ambience and solitude should probably stay out of family restaurants. In the same way that parents are expected to monitor their children's behavior, grow ups should monitor theirs. Not cool, cranky lone diners, if you make snarky comments at young mothers with happy gurgley little ones.

4.Likewise, parents should be vigilant with their little ones even in the family restaurants. It's okay if your little ones make a mess on your own table. It's not okay if the mess gets to other customer's areas. It's okay if kids make some noise. It's not okay if they are using their outside voices for an hour. It's parents' jobs to manage that. I've found that in most cases parents are really very conscientious about such things.

3. There is more to life than pressing buttons on a little screen. This is a hard one for me especially considering what I do. A portable computer device with Internet allows me to write from just about anywhere. That's a good thing. It's not a good thing if I pay more attention to the screen than to my child. Its not a good message to send to children that what we should be doing is typing on our phone instead of talking to our kids. It's a struggle for me. My family are hours away and like other stay at home moms, I crave adult conversation and information that stimulates what's left of my gray matter. What I crave more than that is a daughter who knows she can talk and I will listen.

2. If you can't tell the difference or there's very little difference between the kids tv show (or movie) and the commercials that accompany it, that's a problem. Aggressive marketing directly to children (especially the very young who can't necessarily get up and leave the room or turn off the media by themselves) makes me super cranky.

1. Children who can, should. Allow me to explain. Just because Eve could feasibly eat nothing but chocolate frosted sugar bombs all day, doesn't mean she should, however, I find my inner, snarling mother bear coming out when others assert their whims over kids in certain ways. Here's a reasonable for-instance. Eve is perfectly capable of dressing herself. She has done it for years now and she loves it. Occasionally she struggles with a button or gets something backward, but she's really pleased with her choices and proud that she knows how to dress herself. Admittedly she can make some rather .... bold ... sartorial choices.

If someone else were to decide to deny that sense of accomplishment to Eve by picking Eve's clothes for her and dressing Eve themself, it would make me want to pelt them with all the Legos. I know Eve well enough that she'd back down (right now) just to keep the peace, but really, she'd be uncomfortable and disappointed at not being able to show and share her own individuality. It would crush her spirit. It would make me want to crush whover did that. I know how often I want Eve to hurry up and get her shoes on so we can get to pre-school on time, but I'd sooner be late than crush her spirit. Kids are people too, man, that's all I'm saying.

Feel free to write and tell me it's a full moon and age is turning me into a crank. Or send me your list of today's cranky makers.


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