One of my biggest difficulties as a parent (besides battling with car-seats specifically engineered to cause frustration-induced aneurisms) has been the inability of children to understand the logical consequences of their actions, whether those consequences are natural or disciplinary.
“If you hit your brother with a toy, I’ll have to take the toy away,” I might say, and though he’s lost a whole box of toys this way, my three-year old will still take the next opportunity to smack his brother with whatever toy comes to hand.
“If you don’t wear a hat, you’ll be cold,” I might say, and though he’s cried about cold ears dozens of times, my seven year old will still insist that he doesn’t need one.
“If you don’t put your glasses away, you’ll lose them,” I might say, and though he has to search the house at least five days of the week, my nine-year old will still put his glasses down on every available surface rather than put them in their case.
I know that I must also have suffered from this problem as a child, because almost all children in my experience do, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when I have to deal with children crying over confiscated toys and cold ears and lost glasses. “Remember how we talked about this?” I ask, hoping that this time, at long last, they’ll be able to see how their suffering was preventable, how a different choice would have brought about a different result, but they haven’t made the connection yet.
Fortunately, my kids have all grown out of car-seats, all but one of them out of booster-seats, and I have hope that they’ll eventually grow out of this phase too. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to cope with the logical consequences of having children.
Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged nine, seven, and three. He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university. He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.