My toddler ripped my glasses from my face today. One part of them at least. The other part remained firmly planted behind my ear. I was displeased with the sudden destruction of rather expensive and necessary glasses. Once the blinding anger (puns!) subsided, I thought on what could be learned from the moment.
So here are parenting lessons from broken glasses:
Kids are monsters
They just are. Once we learn that behind the toothless grins and cherub cheeks there rests the heart of a stone cold, city destroying, Mothra battling monster, parenting gets so much easier.
Laugh or you’ll go crazy
This is far from the first time the toddler has ever taken glasses from my face or any one else’s face. Kid loves glasses. There’s a part of the game unique to me though. Once the glasses come off he slaps me on the nose. With my vision blurred and nose red with the mark of a tiny, tiny hand I have to avoid letting the kid see me laugh at the moment. It really is quite funny to see his smirk (we’ll get to that later) and he thinks it is a game. He should not be doing it though, so I cover up my amusement and wait to relate the story to my wife when she asks about the tiny, tiny hand print on my face. If we only get mad at the kid for doing a kid thing, that’s missing the whole point of the adventure. It’s funny.
Sometimes things are not funny right away though. The part that broke off my glasses swung into my eye as he hit my nose with his free arm. That was one too many things to handle well all at once. I stomped down stairs, set him loose on his mother and took some time away from the moment. Parents don’t always have to be smiling, encouraging super humans. Remember, kids are monsters and when super humans battle monsters they lose some times. Take a moment to regroup, curse a little and then head back in there.
Stuff is just that, baby giggles always win.
The toddler has broken so much stuff over the last 18 months. If “breaking stuff” was an Olympics category, he’d be on the relay team that gleefully runs with baseball bats through store aisles full of intricately designed glass items (I assume this would be an event). So we have to throw some stuff away, recycle what can be and replace what we would otherwise miss. It happens. In the comics, monsters rampage through town and folks just rebuild what they want to when it is all over. Stuff is just stuff and it took parenthood to help me realize that. What matters is the laugh as we chase the toddler around the house while he holds an uncapped dry erase marker. What matters is the little laugh as he smashes scrambled eggs into his pant leg. What matters is the smirk on his face when he kicks you during a diaper change… (but seriously, kids are awesome…)
Remember they are mini sociopaths for the first few years until a sudden realization of the humanity of others takes hold. Once they realize you are a person, they’re mean for the fun of it.
Kids are monsters.
My previous pair of glasses was always at the ready. The kid snatches glasses as a game, at some point a pair was going to be lost in the fray. So my unused, slightly out of date but not too bad, frames sit on my bedside table. If it can break, assume it will at some point. Have spares or an extra of whatever you are most certainly going to need. Have extra stuff for the kid too if you can; it is crazy easy for a kid to rip through a coat and they will only do so when it is 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside and for some reason the car heater is not quite working….but I digress.
Do not compare one kid to the next.
My first pair of glasses lasted seven years (and I’m wearing them now). The new pair made it four months. Kids have wildly different experiences; my firstborn had a pair of his own from six weeks of age. He has never known a world that did not focus around mom and dad saying something about his glasses; where are they? can I clean them? is that a scratch? All the hits.
The toddler is the only one in the house that does not wear glasses. He’s curious and wants to be like his brother. When my glasses broke I thought on my seven year old glasses and how they survived so long, but the new little monster in the house snapped some frames in their first four months of existence. That’s not a fair thing to do to the toddler. The way he reacts to glasses is not going to be the same way his brother reacted, or how any other kiddo would react. Glasses are part of the toddler’s daily routine too, but he doesn’t get to wear any of them (yet, the family’s optical history has a nasty treat in store for his optical future).
It will be tempting to say things like “why can’t you be like your sibling/cousin/neighbor/my friend’s kid who always smiles for pictures”, but it gets nowhere. There’s no way one kid can or should be like any other. If all monsters were the same, books and movies would pretty lame.
Thanks for reading!