Your kid is a jerk
(Calm down, mine is too)
They do jerky things
They make you say, “boo”
Don’t despair, fellow parents
‘Tis only a phase
They won’t be big jerks
For all of their days
Your special vocation
As mom or as dad
Is training the jerk
To maybe not be so bad
This job isn’t easy
This job isn’t fun
But you’re not alone
It affects everyone
You see, we are all jerks
At one point or another
But now, if you’re not?
Thank your father or mother.
John is right on the cusp of the phase I like to call “not always a jerky jerkface” (patent on that awesome phrase should definitely be pending). We went through a pretty serious “jerky jerkface” phase that I thought would never end. Not long after Ev was born (COINCIDENCE, I THINK NOT), John decided to play a fun game every night. I think this fun game was called “No matter how many times you put me to bed, I’m going to come out and bother you. Sometimes I’ll pretend to be an animal. I will not be listening to threats or reason. I will stare at you with the glassy eyed stare of a tiny, possessed ventriloquist’s dummy. I will not grow weary.”
That’s a pretty long name for a game. Let’s call it “Mommy Tears.”
So we played “Mommy Tears” very regularly for about a month and a half. On one memorable occasion, Ev was angry and refusing sleep. Our unsuspecting neighbor stopped by to drop something off, and Jay was at work, so I all but threw tiny Ev at him and went upstairs to deal with my jerky three year old.
So many nights ended in tears. For me, not John. Never John. His jerk heart of steel stayed emotionless.
I prayed, I cried, I texted friends with one hand while holding John’s bedroom door shut with the other. Jay thought I was completely overreacting until the first night he was home to witness this tireless act of jerky defiance. Once John was finally down for the night, he turned to me and said, “wine?” He understood. If you’ve lived it, you understand.
I’m happy to report that John goes to bed pretty well now. The struggle has ended. The manic, sleep-refusing energy has calmed. What did we do? What ended the phase?
Time did, you guys, it was time.
We stayed strong, and we hated every second of it. In the end, it wasn’t a pinterest fix or a bedtime chart or promises for lots of presents. It was John eventually learning that we weren’t indulging his late night rendezvous. This was a SLOW lesson, people.
And he was the jerkiest he’d ever been throughout the process.
You know what? He’s less of a jerk now. (I mean, he has his days.) I realized that one of our special jobs as parents is to endure the jerk phases now so our precious bundles won’t grow up to be jerky adults. What a service we are doing for the world! Your child’s jerky phase is not a reflection of you. At least, not current you. Maybe three-year-old you (call your parents and thank them for dealing with three-year-old you).
As much as you struggle, as hard as it is, your kids will not be jerks forever. Our kids are nothing if not a long term commitment, right?