Families: bonded through their dissatisfaction with everything

I don’t think people realize how much they complain until they actually hear themselves. Seriously, listen to yourself. Wow, you are ungrateful.

And we should hang out because I, too, complain a lot. This column itself is basically a drawn-out, weekly complaint. “I have pigeons on my roof, my clothes don’t fit, there are too many television shows on my DVR, wah, wah, wah.” I am sorry.

But here’s the thing: am I? I am not sorry. But I am trying to change. I am currently reading a book about perspective, and I am taking its advice by writing down something I am thankful for each and every day. Today was “I am thankful I’m not a MORON like that idiot on Grand Avenue.” It’s a work in progress.

All of this had me thinking recently—is the need to complain something learned or inherent? Nature or nurture? The reason I ask is because our daughters complain ALL THE TIME, and I do not believe they have already become so jaded by their stressful existence of playing nonstop and not having to worry about insurance.

Here are examples:

Three-year-old: Daddy, what are you making for dinner?

Me: Pasta.

Three-year-old: I don’t LIKE pasta!

Me: Pasta has been your self-described favorite food since the moment you could talk.

Three-like-old: It’s gross!

: I like pasta!

Me: Great.

Two-year-old: I don’t like pasta.

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Me: Thank you both for reluctantly finishing your pasta. It only took you (checks wall clock)… two and a half hours. I’m going to give you a special treat.

Three-year-old: What’s the special treat, dad? Candy? Is it candy? I want three candies! No, four candies! FIVE candies! Can I have five candies, daddy?

Me: The special treat is apples and peanut butter.

Three-year-old: I don’t LIKE apples and peanut butter! You promised 10 candies!

Two-year-old: I want candy, daddy.

Me: (hand them apples and peanut butter)

Three-year-old: (flips out, loses apples and peanut butter, flips out worse)

Two-year-old: I like apples! I don’t like apples. Eww, gross, dad.

- - - - - - - - - - -
Three-year-old: Where are we going, dad?

Me: To the pool, your favorite.

Three-year-old: Yea! How long are we going to stay? The whole time? The whole day? FOREVER? Can we stay forever, dad, pleeeeeease?

Me: We’re going for about an hour.

Three-year-old: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (flips out, ends up costing herself at least 20 minutes of pool time)

Two-year-old: I like the pool! I don’t like the pool. (falls down)

So I guess it’s nature? Is this even normal? I have no idea.

I find that most of the complaining I do these days is complaining about how much our kids complain. Then again, I am also grateful that I do not complain as much as they do because I cannot fathom a life where every good thing that happens is actually terrible. So I guess it’s true what they say about kids—they really do give you perspective.

Note: This column appears in the 6/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/7 issue of the Peoria Times.