The Universal Law of Parenting Karma is a lot like the Law of Gravity: nobody really knows when it was established or how it works, but it works just the same, and that’s probably a good thing. It’s really a simple law, and it consists of two basic principles:
1) You will be taken down a peg or two, no matter how good you think you are, and
2) You will be taught a lesson in the areas where you need it the most -probably because you deserve it.
I first discovered this law immediately after becoming a parent. Wait – that’s not exactly right. First, I was a parenting expert, then I became a parent, found out I wasn’t an expert, then I discovered the law.
One of the things I knew in advance about our new daughter was that she would be an early talker, probably because of my supreme mastery of all things linguistic. That’s a genetic thing for sure – or so I thought. Somehow, the wires got crossed, and we didn’t understand a thing she said for the first four years of her life. It was pure babble. Sure, we became a little better at understanding her with the help of hand gestures, but mostly it was babble. As I scratched my head wondering how it all went wrong, Karma and Irony looked at one another, fist-bumped and smiled. Score one for the Parenting Gods.
Because patience is one of my many virtues, I never understood how parents could be so impatient with their children. Just calm down. I mean, communication is simply a matter of understanding what the child wants, right? If a child throws a fit while you’re at the mall, then you simply haven’t communicated in the right way. That’s what I believed back when I was an expert. Then I experienced the first tantrum. Have you ever encountered a rabid Tasmanian Devil, backed it into a corner and started poking at it with a sharp stick? Yeah, it’s like that. There’s no talking with that thing. Patience and reason vanish like coins from a magician’s hand.
I consider myself capable of holding my ground in any debate, probably because I think I’m right about everything – just like everybody else does. By the time my daughter reached age five, she had finally found her words, and I knew I’d met my match. My budding little attorney could find a loophole in anything I said. I remember one conversation verbatim: “I think you understood me when I said not to walk, run, jump or play so close to the road,” I told her. I had carefully tried to cover all the bases in the fine print of my instructions. “But Daddy,” she said, “you never said not to SKIP!”
I really think she enjoys dissecting any legalese I come up with. Probably gets it from her daddy. That’s Karma, baby.
Sure, I get taken down a peg from time to time, and it teaches me humility. But just as often, I’ll get a good, solid hug and a kiss on the cheek from my best-buddy-in-the-whole-wide-world, and she’ll say, “I think I love you a little too much, Daddy.”
Wow. There aren’t any words to describe that feeling.