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Kids, I'm not buying your helplessness

  • The Orange County Register
  • Published Monday, July 14, 2014, at 1:07 p.m.

Who does this remind you of . . . ?

During the morning rush of getting off to school, I ask my daughter to please go brush her hair. (Let's go!) Seconds later she walks into my room and states, "I looked everywhere and I can't find the hairbrush anywhere," and plops down on the bed, obviously completely exhausted from her fruitless mission.

Of course, you know where this is going, right? I walk into her bedroom and it's sitting, right there, in plain view. I pick it up and start to brush.

"Did you feed the dogs?" I ask her brother while I'm working on a nasty rat's nest in her hair. "I tried, but I couldn't find anything to scoop it out of the container," he says and gives a big carefree shrug as if to say, "C'est la vie, What can be done?"

Sometimes living with children can be very much like living inside your own infomercial: in particular the "infomercial fail" portion. Kids are the exasperated ones. As you recall them: The women trying to open a can with a lame can opener circa 1970, only to drop it on the ground or shred her hand. Or the girl attempting to put her hair in one of those complicated ponytails only to find it is humanly impossible to get the rubber band around a bunch of hair, WITH ONLY YOUR HANDS. The man futilely reaching for the remote control while hopelessly trying to stay covered with a blanket. As if!

If the kids are the infomercial fail, then I, as the parent, on the other hand, am the revolutionary product. The spokesperson offering hope. The mother of invention. (See what I did there?) I'm the one you see on TV at 1 a.m. and say to yourself, "Huh, she's right! Why am I trying to clean my laundry with laundry soap? That's absurd!" I'm brilliant! If only I could get millions of people to send me a check . . . or money order . . . made out in my name.

Why is it that our kids are wrecked with incapacity when attempting the simplest things in life, yet are brilliant masters when it comes to other things?

NASA engineers could not master the complex arrangement of trash piled high, one piece on top of another on top of another, that they can create in order to avoid actually taking out the trash. Or if their iPhones suddenly stop working properly, they have the problem-solving capacity of an Apple Store genius.

Yet, they can't fill their breakfast bowl with water after eating in the morning or figure out how to roll the hose back in its place. It's obvious they CAN do these things, they just don't want to and as you know, when faced with a child who doesn't want to do something, a parent, even the most persuasive, is rendered nearly helpless.

The only thing I can do now is call them out on it by telling them, "Don't infomercial fail me! At least try a tad harder." When they do infomercial fail sometimes, I pretend I'm the quick-talking salesman at the end of the pitch and sell them off. "Act now and I will throw in TWO kids for the price of one!"

You should try it. Oh, they really hate it! It's awesome.

Columnist Suzanne Broughton: sbroughton@ocregister.com

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