One of the best parts of parenting is how accomplished your kids make you feel. My kids are blown away by me tying my shoes all by myself and think I’m one of the greatest comediennes in the world.
Course, it doesn’t take much. When they were babies, all I had to do was put a random object on my head and my kids were pissing themselves laughing about it. Our diaper-on-the-head routine never seemed to get old.
Babies are definitely slapstick comedy fans, but toddlers are a bit more sophisticated. Your jokes need to be more absurdist, centering on topics like cats who wear glasses while playing the piano or what it’s like to pee in a bathroom in China.
And their reactions are increasingly unpredictable. Like yesterday, when I unwittingly pissed my four-year-old daughter off…
Brontë and I have a quirky routine where we tell each other “secrets.”
It goes like this:
- Brontë dramatically looks left and right before leaning in and whispering in my ear, “Momma, I have a secret to tell you!”
- She tells me something about a Disney princess then asks for a secret in return.
- I lean in and whisper something about another Disney princess.
- She giggles, squeezes my hand, and nods knowingly.
This was how it worked for the past two years, at least, but yesterday was a different story.
Yesterday went like this:
Brontë (whispering): I have a princess secret to tell you.
Me (leaning in): Okay, let’s hear it…
Brontë (looking left and right before whispering): Jasmine rode on a magic carpet with Aladdin and they were… singing!
Me (feigning shock): Wow!
Brontë: Now you tell me a secret.
Me (leaning in): Okay. Well, sometimes, Ariel misses her mermaid tail because she doesn’t swim as fast anymore…
Brontë (turning white): HEY! I don’t EVER want to hear about that AGAIN… EVER!
And then she stomped into her room and slammed the door, leaving me wondering how I’d offended her.
Ariel is probably Brontë’s favorite princess, so maybe she didn’t care for any suggestion that she’s inadequate in any way.
Or, maybe Brontë considers the loss of Ariel’s mermaid tail quite tragic and thought I was making light of a troubling situation.
Or, maybe it had something to do with how Brontë sometimes fantasizes about being a mermaid. If a former mermaid can’t even get her tail back, what chance would she have? Maybe I just wrecked the whole fantasy.
Any other ideas? The intricate rules of toddler etiquette can be so perplexing.