When Your Kid Acts Like a Jerk

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The state of my oven door after she repeatedly kicked it from the floor and shouted “No!”

Warning! Explicit language!

This post is inspired by an event that happened in my house today. While getting pajamas on, my 3 year-old noticed that I have new, pink polish on my toenails from a pedicure I just got. He remarked on how great they looked (smart kid, amirite?) and said that he really wished he had pink polish on his toenails. “Well, you’re in luck!” I told him. “Because I have some pink polish in my bathroom!” and he said “Yay!” and scurried in for me to paint his toenails.
 
We decided to just do the two big toes, because it was already story time and I wanted them to try before he got under the covers, so I gave him one coat, and we were both happy. Boy or girl, I will never say no to painting nails!
 
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And I could never say no to this face.
Steve and I told him that they needed to dry, so it was very important that he didn’t kick anything or put on socks. We stressed that it is really important that the polish dries before doing anything, and that he needed to be very careful, especially on the carpet. He agreed and went on his merry way. I started putting the polish away and getting ready to read, and after a minute or two I noticed he had not come back, so I called him to come back in.
 
When he came back, I immediately noticed that the pink polish on one of his toenails was smudged, as if he had tried to wipe all of it off. I sighed and closed my eyes. “Steve, will you please go look for where Ash wiped off his polish?” I hung my head and braced myself for the worst.
 
A moment later, Steve came back. Sure enough, he had gone into the little playhouse in the living room and wiped his toenail polish off…on the carpet. He DRAGGED his toenail ACROSS MY OFF-WHITE CARPET to wipe off the polish. I was livid.
 
“Are you kidding me?” I asked him.
 
“I don’t want polish on my toenails!” He protested.
 
“But the carpet? Why the carpet? You could have just asked me to wipe it off! Daddy and I just told you four minutes ago that toenail polish is not to go on carpets.”
 
Silence.
 
UGH. I skipped his story time and sent him straight to bed. I realize this wasn’t the best way of handling it, because I am a huge advocate of story and cuddle time as a way to reconnect with your kids and bond without all of the chaos that is present during the day. Welp, I was so pissed I couldn’t even look at him, let alone talk to him and read him a story. My knee-jerk reaction was to call him an asshole. I didn’t, of course, but I wanted to. It was the first thing on my mind. I’m totally serious. You are an asshole! That was an asshole thing to do! ASSHOLE ASSHOLE ASSHOLE! Had I done that, I would have felt vindicated for about one minute, before consumed with guilt and shame. Luckily I just sent him to bed, but when Steve came over I was still fuming.
 
“Take a deep breath, it’s okay.” He said.
 
“No, it’s not! Nail polish is hard to get out of carpet, I don’t have non-acetone polish remover and now I have to go to the store! And he knew that he wasn’t supposed to get it on the carpet, and he deliberately dragged his toe across to get it off, instead of just asking me! What the fuck?! That was an ASSHOLE thing to do!”
 
Steve sympathized. “I know, but he’s only three. You just have to remember that.”
 
I wasn’t having it. “I don’t care how old he is! WHAT AN ASSHOLE.”
 
Steve told me to take some more breaths and rubbed my back for a minute, and I calmed down.
 
But that whole experience got me thinking about other times when my kids have been utter assholes to me, and the times when I just wanted to scream it in their face. This blog is about gentle parenting, setting firm limits without punishment, and all kinds of feel-good stuff that absolutely prohibits calling your child an asshole. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it sometimes. Okay, a lot of times.
 
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When my 18 month-old takes a handful of peanut butter and rubs it through her hair an hour after I gave her a bath. Happened today. Asshole.
 
When I get a book thrown at my face for saying that it’s nap time. Asshole.
 
When I am called the meanest mom in the world, and told I am not wanted anymore. Well, fuck you too, asshole! I could easily find some other child to shower in love, respect and all of the free food they could ever ask for! UNGRATEFUL ASSHOLE!
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When they’ve had about 6 meals already and it’s only 2pm, and I’m having my first meal, a measly yogurt, and they all run up and take “just one bite” until it’s all gone. Two words: ASS. HOLE.
 
When I buy them as many books as I can get my hands on, because I love reading, and I want to instill a love of reading and a world of imagination and wonder, and they rip the pages out of it or color on them. Illiterate asshole.
 
When I talk up my child in front of others for being smart/sweet/adorable and they come and fart in my face/spit on my guest/tell me their butt itches. Embarrassing asshole!
 
When you spend a lot of time making a 3 course dinner that is both healthy and delicious, and they cry and demand peanut butter and jelly. Asshole!
 
Again, I realize it’s never okay to actually call your child an asshole. And while these behaviors aren’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, there are just little things here and there that make me feel like saying…..
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So, to all the parents out there who don’t go ape shit when their kids act like complete assholes, I raise my wine glass to you! You’re awesome!
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