And That’s Why They Invented Therapy

Little Miss Sunshine is turning six in a couple of weeks, so we are planning birthday parties and cakes and gifts and she’s getting excited.

So the other day she says to me, “Remember last year, on my birthday, when it was my WORST DAY EVER?”

And I’m all like, “You mean, the day when we went swimming, and had presents, then spent the afternoon at the museum of your choosing, then went out to eat the restaurant of your choosing, then had cake AND ice cream? THAT worst day ever?”

And she’s all, “Oh, yeah. But remember, you yelled at me. On my birthday. It was the worst ever.”

What she is referring to is this: when we were going out to the Museum of Civilization after lunch, I asked all three kids to get ready to go. But they were all wound up and nutso, and when I was packed up and ready I found three kids with no shoes and who had not been to the bathroom. And yes, I yelled, and if you want to know the truth, I even sent all three to their individual rooms for a few minutes while I calmed down. Then I politely asked them all if they wanted to go to the museum, and if so, could they GET READY ALREADY, and after 15 minutes we were on our way.

Then we went to the museum and had a great time. See also: cake, ice cream, gifts, etc.

So of course, all she remembers of that day is that I yelled at her. This, THIS, is the very definition of parenting to me. The good, the good, the good, the good – I will always remember. The bad, the ugly – that’s what leaves the impression on young minds.

It annoys me, but I know that that’s the way these things go. I have faith that providing a general aura of comfort and love and yes, cake and ice cream, will somehow result in a general good feeling about childhood, and all those bad moments will someday be amusing anecdotes told over Thanksgiving dinner, or possibly to her therapist.

Of course, this year for her birthday I’m considering skipping all the frills and just staying home in our PJs, while the kids make their own cereal for dinner. It’ll probably be her BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. FIGURES.

15 thoughts on “And That’s Why They Invented Therapy

  1. Jackie

    Lynn, you have once again adeptly summarized one of the joys(???) of parenting. In a child’s universe it’s always “Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?” When my kids do it, it frustrates me to no end; that they remember one tiny negative in a giant sea of giving, giving, giving.

    1. Exactly. Some days I can put a cheerful spin on it, some days I’m like, “Yeah, make your own dinner, kid.” Hopefully the good days outweigh the bad!

  2. CapnPlanet

    Hmmm, I agree with many of your posts but this one doesn’t resonate with me. I’d say that my kids typically change their emotional state on a dime and immediately forget their previous state as if it never happened. Asked about something that happened a year ago I wouldn’t predict them to have a predominantly overly negative or positive view of things. Just my $0.02.

    1. Well, I do have to admit that the Little Miss, in particular, is a kid who harps on the bad. She’s always the first one to declare an event or day a TOTAL DISASTER and she has an everlasting memory for every bad thing.

      But even though I consider my own childhood to be pretty happy, I can easily recall every big horrible moment, while the warm happy moments kind of blend together and don’t stick out. Isn’t that always the way? I think it’s one reason I take a lot of photos and try to write down charming things in this blog – so that it all DOES get remembered…hopefully.

      By the older two, at least. 🙂

  3. my middle only remembers the bad stuff. Even on the same day, the same hour, the same activity. If anything goes wrong (in his eyes) he can only focus on the bad. I work hard at reminding him of the good. I hope it works. I don’t want such a negative thinking child to turn into a negative thinking adult.

    1. I worry about this too, for my youngest. She’s my drama queen and always harps on the bad stuff, and seems to have an endless memory – going back to birth – of every so-called crappy thing that has ever happened to her. I suppose some people are like that, but it’s tough as a parent to have a kid who is a negative thinker. Let me know if you find any helpful strategies!

  4. I worry about that too – didn’t you write a post about it, that you are awesome 95% of the time, but then you yell and THAT is what kids remember? Jeez. Moms get a rough ride, don’t we? I’m sure her birthday will be awesome!

  5. That reminds me so much of a story my Mom loves to tell about my sister.

    One year, for her b’day, my parents saved up enough money to take her & 2 friends to see an ICE show. this was a huge deal for my parents, who were a one income, 4 kids household.

    In future years my sister referred to this as “the year I didn’t have a party”! it drove my Mom crazy!

  6. The strategy is to yell MORE, that way it will not be as memorable!

    Um, just kidding.

    My younger child is also like this; remembers every ill, every bad thing done to him. I have been in the parking lot of a store with him, having just bought him an ice cream and he’ll be wailing that “you never buy me anything I want EVERRRRRR” because I denied him the gumball from the vending machine. OK. Shrug and move on, I guess.

    Drama queens (and kings) are a mixed blessing…so entertaining and passionate, and so very exhausting. 🙂

  7. Honestly. Your little miss and my Sonja should meet… 🙂 And I know exactly where you come from. I feel so judged about this stuff, not by people, not by neighbours, not by family, not by strangers, not by the internet, but by MY OWN KIDS who will remember the yelling over the 7 million things we had fun with, or that we enjoyed.


    also, LOL. You’re right, that is exactly the definition of parenting.

  8. KL

    I’m glad to see I’m not alone. PHEW. After a rather challenging week filled with a lot (TOO MUCH) end of year activities my 6 year old and I didn’t quite survive completely intact. In fact on the very last day we both needed a time out. After we both calmed down, she declared, “Mommy, I’m going to remember this day FOREVER.” It was complete with tears running down her face and sadness all over. I sucked in my breath (it crushed my heart) because I have no doubt that she will remember it and refer to it at various times…sigh. Heck, she still remembers that toy that I sent to live in the basement from two years ago. It’s going to university with her!! I only hope that she will fill in the blanks with all the wonderful fun-filled things we do together. It’s how I survive her!

  9. It was Abby’s birthday on Tuesday and I had my last school council meeting and I’m Chair, so I couldn’t really ditch out. I promised her I would hurry them though the meeting as quickly as I could and then we could go out for dinner. June is also a crazy month for various projects her Dad and I have in the works. Lots of deadlines and lots of commitments equals not much free time and when life gets like that I prefer to spend as much as my free time as I can hanging with the kids in my jammies. So I wasn’t going to be able to plan any big elaborate parties. Oh and I ordered her birthday present online and it hasn’t arrived yet. So to sum it up the kid had no birthday party, no birthday present and a quick dinner out after I finished up my meeting and still she declared it the best birthday ever! Meanwhile I’m sitting over here thinking I couldn’t have messed this birthday up any more if I tried.

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