Ah, the tantrum. We have all been there: those moments in our parenting lives when we have said to our spouse, “Call the medics, Dude. I’d go myself but I’m pumping blood. Might pass out.”
Unfortunately, sometimes there is no help choppering in to save us from our children and their uncivilized displays of rage, but if you read enough parenting books, you pick up some good tips along the way. And then it will dawn on you: you will realize, late one night while sitting on the couch, that the movie The Big Lebowski is actually an allegory for parenting, containing some wise hidden tips. After some sleuth work I was able to ferret them out. Here are the top 10.
1. “You know, Dude, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in ‘Nam of course.”
When you get stuck in the trenches, ask yourself what you’re doing there, and if it was that important after all. Does it matter that much? Yes? Dig in. No? Move on. It’s OK to give in even if it feels shitty. “All right, it’s fucking zero. Are you happy, you crazy fuck?”
2. “Nothing is fucked here Dude. Nothing is fucked. They’re a bunch of fucking amateurs!”
Come on now. These kids are not that powerful. My kiddo’s 45-minute tantrums used to flatten me. But one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was, don’t give her so much power. So she throws a tantrum. Who cares? Move on. Somehow I learned how to leave the tantrum that shook heaven and earth in the dust and greet her at the end of them with a, “nothing is fucked here” attitude. Afterall. She was only 2. An amateur at best.
3. “Huh? No, what the fuck are you… I’m not… We’re talking about unchecked aggression here, dude.”
Sometimes kids do shit. Most often it has nothing whatsoever to do with us, it’s just them being little shits. It isn’t your shitty parenting or that time you left them in time out for 5 minutes too long. It might just be because they were assholes that day. And if you take all the responsibility there will be none left for your children. Sometimes those little kiddos are assholes simply because they feel like it.
4. “Fuck it, Dude. Let’s go bowling.”
In other words, kick that shit to the curb. The best thing that I did was to kick that kid out of the house in those terrible 2’s days. I dropped her off at Parent’s Morning Out, preschool, camp, so she had to learn that she was a member of the world, and not the only member. She was forced to mix it up–to get in it. To cooperate. To quit being an asshole.
5. “Life does not stop and start at your convenience, you miserable piece of shit.”
It’s a good thing to learn that you don’t control the universe. In our case, 3 kids in 6 years has taught our kids that they’re not the only people in the world.
6. “Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”
Play by the rules. This means you. If you fuck it up, say your sorry.
7. “Yes, Walter, you’re right. There is an unspoken message here. It’s ‘FUCK YOU, LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!’ Yeah, I’ll be at practice.”
No matter how mad you are, be there when it matters most.
8. “What was all that shit about Vietnam? What the FUCK, has anything got to do with Vietnam? What the fuck are you talking about?”
Make sense. Be reasonable.
9. “So let me make something plain. I don’t like you sucking around, bothering our citizens, Lebowski. I don’t like your jerk-off name. I don’t like your jerk-off face. I don’t like your jerk-off behavior, and I don’t like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?”
It’s important to communicate clearly.
10. And…”I guess that’s the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself.”
After a bad day, wipe the slate clean. As Maezen says, “Begin. And then begin again.” What we do is on many levels pretty absurd, but we just keep trying, and thus, we continue on.