Is it me? When did little kids get such big attitudes? Look I love my five year old son, but sometimes the mouth on this kid makes Damien from the Omen look like Opie from the Andy Griffith Show. He fights me on everything. He talks back. He disobeys. He throws tantrums. I would blame it on my less than adequate parental techniques and I do tend to be inconsistent with my behavioral therapy and discipline at times, but I know it’s not just my kid. Apparently my niece has got a little mean streak when it comes to talking to her parents. And I’ve heard stories from other parents too. Is it the TV shows they’re watching? Has Sesame Street turned a dark corner? “Guess what Elmo’s thinking about today? YA TA DA DAA! Elmo’s been thinking about…manipulation tactics” I don’t know. Should I calm down? I mean is it a side effect of society today? Our children are exposed to more media with computers, the internet, and more shows on more channels so maybe that’s having more of an influence on their behavior. They’re growing up much faster now. Too fast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my 5 year old, “I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS DURING YOUR TEENAGE YEARS! I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS NOW!” Of course he just stares at me…and then sort of giggles maliciously. Sends shivers down my spine. Another problem is that his little protégé, my two year old, is starting to copy big brother, his hero, the way he always has. An angry frown and a “No, DADDY!” is a lot cuter coming from a 2 year old than a 5 year old…but he’ll get older. I’ve gotta nip that in the bud.
I know I sound like Old Man Loprete a la “what’s with these kids today?!”, but when I was the age of a kindergartener I wouldn’t DREAM of talking to my parents the way my kid talks to me. Now granted my father was 6’ 3” so a five year old talking back to him was somewhat frowned upon. Hell, a 40 year old talking back to him is somewhat frowned upon. My problem is that I’m 5’7” and my Amazon kid is already half my size. He’ll be taller than me by the 5th grade. Then I’m really sunk. I can just picture this conversation when he’s in high school.
Me (looking up at my 6’5” 17 year old): Son, you’re grounded.
Him (grabbing my hands and slapping my face with them): “Why you hitting yourself, Dad? Why you hitting yourself?
Okay now listen. My son is not Linda Blair from The Exorcist. He’s a wonderful, smart, funny, and mostly well behaved kid. We have a beautiful close relationship. No neglectful father Harry Chapin songs (Cat’s In The Cradle) or Springsteen-esque dysfunctional father/son stories (any Springsteen concert) here. If you watch Modern Family (and you should) the character of Phil Dunphy has a misguided parental approach called “peerenting”. Maybe that’s my problem. At times I think my son sees me more as a friend than a father. Not fair. I love teaching, playing, and spending time with my son…I just wish he would shut up and do what I tell him. I mean I waited a long time for this. Don’t you remember when your parents said “When you’re a parent you can tell your kids what to do.”? Come on, people! We’ve earned this! Let’s take back control! Occupy Our Kids!!!