The name is from that youtube video of the kid coming home from the dentist that was a huge hit. I watched it before I had a baby and my honest first reaction was just cracking up and thinking how it’s like being on various (extremely legal – depending where you live) mind-altering substances. And then – to show that I also have a deep side – thinking about how a kid can often capture what things feel like in such a more accurate and genuine way than adults trying to impress themselves/others with how they talk/write. Since becoming a parent I see it differently, and maybe more like this guy, though a dash of googling revealed that the kid’s family is now making money off of it and the kid seems to be happily along for the ride (though if he wasn’t, not sure how I would know that).
Regardless (add an “ir” to the start of that one if it feels better to you that way), the phrase that stuck with me, though I remembered it incorrectly, was “will this be forever?”. Because that’s how it feels – and here’s where I tie everything together! – to (a) be on those substances, (b) be with a baby – if it happens to be your own baby and you happen to be me – who is crying for more than 10 seconds, or (c) be in any number of phases of your child’s development that for any number of reasons makes you feel like you are fucking up as a parent. If, in those moments, you could believe 100% that it will not be forever, I think those moments become immeasurably easier. I am at my worst when I do not remember this, and am able to deal so much better, and perhaps even find that things that were “issues” cease to be so, when I do.
That said, I don’t think this applies equally to every aspect of parenting. I think there are two categories – one category is things that actually don’t suck (issues that stop being issues) if you can remember as they are happening that they will not be forever. My best personal example was walking my son around before he was comfortable enough walking on his own. Physically, it was not annoying to me and I actually even kind of liked cruising around with him and seeing where he would take us (spoiler alert – the fire truck steering wheel under the stairs at the playground). It would only become stressful when the voice would kick in asking if this was going to be forever. First I’m thinking – why are no other parents at the park walking their kids around by the hands (answer: their kids are 3), next thing I know I’m worrying about whether you’ll be walking him around the basketball court at 8th grade tryouts. I start thinking – will they just have to take us both on the team? Are there age cutoffs that will pose a problem? Will I count as the 6th man, or just a part of the kid, like sports goggles or something? If I could just remember that it won’t be forever, I wouldn’t have to waste my time on these worries, and I could instead focus my energies on beating myself up for not cooking wholesome, locally sourced food for my family.
I do acknowledge, however, that there is a whole additional category of things that, even when you know they won’t be forever, just suck. I doubt I need to provide examples. But even with these, remembering they won’t be forever may take some of the edge off. Lying in bed for a long-ass time nursing my kid to sleep, not being able to get up and watch Top Chef – that sucked. It sucked even though I knew it would be over at some point because Top Chef was on right then, and I was hungry and had no food with me. In those moments, getting the hell out of the moment was usually a life saver for me, and thinking forward to when I’ll be picking him up from soccer practice and he won’t want to come within 10 feet of me helped me get through the next 20 minutes (side note – why is the required mom future fantasy of teenage son all about picking up from sports practices?).
I was also recently reading The Scientist in the Crib, which includes discussion of research on how children have a very hard time recalling that they felt differently/thought differently in the past than they do in the present moment. It also seems like much of the recent research (behavioral economics stuff, etc) shows that adults are really bad at this too. Eighth grade essay quality conclusion: maybe just realizing and acknowledging that we are “programmed” to be bad at this can help us become better at it…