When infants make the move into Toddlerville, it’s a big deal for both the child and parent. For the kid, it means independence and finally being able to communicate with parents in a more direct way. To parents, it’s the start of weird and unpredictable relationship full of mood swings that border on the comically absurd.
Dealing with a child aged between two and six is a challenge that from what I hear is almost as insane as the teenage years. I can’t speak on the teens but I can tell you that after numerous episodes of thinking to myself, “Why the hell am I arguing with a three year-old?” I may have cracked the code to understanding the outspoken and unreasonable toddler – they are your drunk best friend at the club.
Each time my son and I have a dramatic episode, it reminds me of clubbing with a friend who can’t handle their liquor. It’s the same beginning, middle and end, only the age and location is different, alcohol isn’t involved and there’s a better chance that you both won’t end up in jail for the weekend.
Allow me to entertain you with a quick tale of going to a video game store. Mind you, this can go down anywhere, but if you don’t have kids, imagine going to the club with your friend who loses it after a few drinks.
Following the ritual we all do with our can’t handle their liquor friend before entering the club, I explained to my son that we’re going to a place that’s going to be a lot of fun could rapidly go downhill if he overdoes it.
Like a drunk homie, my kid listens intently, then gets into the store and loses his mind. Liam still has yet to learn his limit, so he’s screaming incoherently at full volume about everything. This is the moment your realize your toddler/drunk best friend has passed being obnoxious and is spiraling further out of control.
I tell Liam to pipe down and use his inside voice but he can’t help himself. The stimulation is just too much to him to handle. My kid marches through the store like he built it with his bare hands, grabbing stuff like he owns it.
“Daddy I want this!”
I immediately thought of the endless times one of my boys drunkenly decided that a woman on the other side of the bar was going to be his wife. Like I told my boy, I tell Liam, “No, that’s not going to happen.”
We all know what goes down next. He’s going to embarrass himself in an attempt to prove me wrong. Liam takes the item, walks it behind the counter and announces to the cashier, “I want this!”
The cashier gives him a half smile and looks in my direction like, “Please come and get your child.’
I pull him away but he’s fixed all of his attention on the cashier, wondering why they‘re not giving him any rhythm. I then explain to him that he can’t have everything he wants, to which he finally agrees and we move on.
After that futile attempt at getting a game, Liam decides that the store we’re in sucks and wants to leave. I’m not done so I tell Liam to wait until I’m finished looking around and then we’ll bounce. At this stage my role is akin to the club role of a designated driver that wants to stick around for a bit longer.
The next thing I know, Liam is crying about something completely random. I try to figure out what the problem is but I can’t make out what the hell he’s talking about. Minutes later, he’s angry with the world and wants to fight/throw a tantrum. That’s when he realizes he’s about to get his ass whooped and calms down.
These shenanigans have spoiled the outing for everyone so we exit the store regretting going in the first place. At a club, this would be the parking lot on the way to the car, my child/drunken best friend is crying again but this time it’s apologetic. Liam professes his love for me and wants to hug it out. My friend now has an arm around my shoulder and has peed himself. In the stroller (or car) on the way home, my toddler/drunken friend passes out– while I spend the whole time I’m thinking about how this is the last time I’ll ever do this.
Maybe you can stop going to the club with your friend that can’t handle their booze, but with a toddler, it will never be the last time. Plan accordingly.
Check out Liam and the Almost Cool Dad build a computer below:
Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe, BET.com, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.