My boy loves his family. He regularly asks what all six of his grandparents are doing. He wonders where his aunts and uncles are. He asks if his cousin is at school. He knows and loves his family. That aside, I don’t expect much compliance or even agreement to basic social conventions during the coming holidays. Here’s my Thanksgiving predicted play by play.
Reasons why our kids don’t play nice during holidays
(or any other high profile, social setting where you’d like to impress everyone with evidence of your parenting skills)
Noon: “Everything is different”
Hey, what happened to my routines? Where’s my sippy cup? Who is this strange dog in my face? This house doesn’t look like my house. I miss my house. Isn’t this lunch time? Why aren’t we eating? Why is everything wrong?
12:30: “Why can’t I play with these highly, breakable glass figurines that look like cute forest animals?”
I can touch everything at home- why can’t I explore here? And how am I supposed to get comfortable here if I can’t figure things out? Why are you following me everywhere?
1:00: “Where’s my Mom and Dad?”
This is not my house. There are people I haven’t seen in months reaching for me. I’m wearing scratchy, weird “dress up” clothes. The kitchen is hot. The living room is loud. I am so little. I need my Momma to feel big. I need my Daddy to relax enough to have fun. Why do people keep kissing me? That’s it—now I’m crying.
1:30: “Grandma, Grandpa! Why can’t we play?”
Yay, Grandma and Grandpa are here! But why won’t Grandpa chase me like he usually does? Why is he talking to other people? Why isn’t Grandma reading me a book – we always read a book. Hello? I know, if I push over this “don’t touch”, they’ll see me over here…. (crash)… great now we can play, right? Time out?! What just happened?
2:30: “Fine, if I can’t play with the inside plants, where are my toys?”
No, not those toys- the fun toys! I’ll just settle on chasing Grandma’s dog since you didn’t bring the fun toys….. Time out? Again?!
3:00: “I peed”
Since you were so busy talking to the tall people, I decided to help out and take my diaper off for you. I don’t know why you’re upset.
3:30: “I’m so tired”
That car nap only lasted the 12 minutes it took to drive between the two families. I’m so tired. Why can’t I sleep? I just want my bed. I’ll settle for my Momma’s shoulder. Please, please let me sleep. Now I’m crying again.
4:30: “What is this food?”
This isn’t my plate. This isn’t normal food. What’s turkey? I don’t like this. Can I have French fries please? And I’ll take a helping of that cake too.
6:00: “No thank you. I don’t want to hug everyone goodbye. I’m done listening to your requests.”
I will wave to you from behind my Mom’s leg. I’ll say bye from the safe harbor of my Grandma’s kitchen table (we are coloring and I’m not stopping now ). Just be happy if I don’t throw myself on the ground to protest any further requests.
7:00: “I want to watch a show!”
Mom, did you know they have a TV here? Daniel Tiger is here, so is Curious George. This is my new favorite place ever- look Grandpa gave me a cookie!
8:00: “Go home? I don’t want to go home. I love it here.”
I just figured this place out. I’ve accepted the rules. I’m comfortable now. I’m not leaving. She has chocolate and stuffed animals. Cozy up to Grandma, Mama- this is our new home.
9:00: “ Fine, I’ll get in the car but..”
I won’t wear a coat. I’ll cry the whole way to the car. I’ll fight you in the car seat. I’m going to rip my socks off. I’ll demand that one of you hold my hand the entire way home. Also, I’m going to fall asleep and you’ll have to deliver me to my bed.
If my day goes even a hair more smoothly than this, I’ll feel relaxed. But I doubt it. If I get to carry on an entire conversation with another adult, I’ll be thrilled (bonus points if it’s my mother). I’ll forgive him because I’m pretty sure I acted the same way until I was at least 12. Kids struggle on holidays because they can’t cope like the rest of us do – with alcohol and sarcasm.
Happy Thanksgiving to families everywhere. Here’s to real life, lower expectations, and family who love you even when you aren’t cute.