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Good guys vs bad guys and the power of the arriving parent

November 17, 2015 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category : , , , , , ,

However subjective this opinion is, I do speak from some experience…

We all know that one parent must inevitably play the good guy, whilst the other plays the bad guy. There is no way around this necessary role play because kids are, at all times, pushing you into these roles.

Yet, have you ever wondered why the parent, who arrives home is, by default, the “good guy”? Why is it when those bastards walk in the door they can easily slip into the kid's good graces?

As the on-duty parent, all day you put up with the tyranny of a semi-human/animal hybrid and just want cold retribution, or some vindication maybe, but you are ironically denied this by the incoming parent. And, just to push your button one more time, the kid gives you a smug look from the arms of the arriving parent, declaring that you are no longer necessary.

Who's flipping who the bird, I wonder.

Where is the justice, you may ask?

Well, there is none because it’s absolutely true that kids bend the cosmic fates to their implacable wills. The on-duty parent must suffer this indignity quietly. But don’t blame the arriving parent for this injustice; they are just as much subject to circumstance and the will of the child as are the fates.

Walking in the door after an extended absence, either from work or an afternoon of checking out at the movies, the last thing you want to do is come home and regulate. Of course, you may want to cause you’re sadistic, or have to because, as a parent, you gotta do what you gotta do. But, the sort of discipline the on-duty parent has in mind, is typically not the objective or even purpose of the arriving parent.

Taking over where the stony-eyed on-duty parent wants to leave off is almost impossible. The whole set of variables surrounding your arrival conspire against the wishes of the on-duty parent. The fresh parent’s first priority may be to diffuse and alter the mood of the child, if the thing is indeed, in a foul humor.

For many reasons, the arriving parent’s emotional state is also not in the same place as the on-duty parent's. Whether or not they’re tired or utterly exhausted, their “child patience meter” is at a different setting from yours. The setting determines how they’ll react to the child, and since they haven’t developed child brain, a condition brought on by extended periods of child only social interactions, their setting is inevitably different from yours. This setting determines the type of interaction they’ll have with the child.

Now, while it’s not often that the arriving parent’s other internal meter, the general patience meter, has redlined in such a way that they are more spent than the on-duty parent, it does happen. If this is the case, then both of you may be screwed, as neither parent can now handle the child's emotional state and its animosity towards the on-duty parent. When this is the case, someone usually bites the bullet and tacitly decides to take over. This “grenade dive” usually comes at the expense of your all-purpose happy meter, but sacrifices must be made in any battle.

Being in the position of the arriving parent also affords you the love and adulation of any child, which makes the on-duty parent feel like an old, discarded toy. This can’t be avoided and on-duty parents must take solace in the fact that the child (especially very young children) isn’t human yet and doesn’t understand the concept of reciprocity. Rest assured, you’ll get your vengeance when you make them turn off the TV. Make sure you tell them with a smile.

Consequently, the mathematical law of The Arriving Parent easily works against both parents and can be bestowed upon any arriving person(s).

Take, for example, the arrival of grandparents or cousins. Now, both parents are the jerks and have ceased to exist in the eyes of the child. Ironically, the child's capricious will may not have been turned towards the parents before the arrival of these people. You could’ve all been floating on clouds, wrapped in rainbows up till the moment they walked in the door. Now you’re nothing and your very presence is anathema to the child's all-purpose happy meter. Such is the power of almost any arriving person.

C’est la vie, as the Germans say.

Still, the arm of cosmic justice is long and is multi-jointed.

That makes no sense.

But, in any case, toddlers aren’t known for their memories or long-term planning, except when remembering a promised cookie. Eventually, the arriving parent goes back to work and grandparents leave. Leaving only the toddler and the on-duty parent’s maniacal grin.