“I just want my kids to be happy” and other bullshit
I was chatting with another mum friend the other day, talking about what we thought our daughters might be when they grow up.
“Mine will either be a lawyer or a criminal,” I said, half-joking, referring to her talents for manipulation, subterfuge and fast-talking.
“I just want mine to be happy,” said my friend. I smiled. Nodded. Changed the subject.
But really? Just happy? That’s it?
It’s what we say, I guess, to show that we’ll accept our children however they turn out. As long as they’re happy, then we’ve done our job. Right? Right?
I know I’m guilty of spouting this trite cliché on more than one occasion. It sounds pretty harmless in essence – but I’m calling bullshit. I don’t just want my kids to be happy.
I want my kids to be challenged, to be engaged, to be excited by life. I want them to feel all of the feelings, from love to despair to exhilaration to heartache, and everything in between. I want them to experience what it’s like to fail, so they can really taste success. I want them to know sadness, so that when they find joy they actually appreciate it.
‘Happy’ is limiting, it’s one-dimensional. Happy is dull. Happy is way too vanilla for what I want for my kids.
And it got me thinking about some of the other crappy clichés that get tossed around like yesterday’s Tiny Teddies wrappers.
All you need is love
The Beatles were big fat liars. Love is NOT all you need. You also need empathy, and understanding, and compromise. And an enormous bucket of patience. Yes, love is a crucial ingredient in a successful relationship, but it is far from all you need.
No actually, you can’t. Some people have the aptitude for certain things, and other people just don’t. Just because you want to do something – even if you really really want to do it – doesn’t mean you’ll be able to. A kid with no talent for maths and a fear of heights is not going to grow up to be a pilot. Someone with a shitty singing voice will not make it as a pop star (although the current Top 40 chart may make a liar out of me). While I do believe in teaching my kids to persevere and strive for their goals, I’m also a realist. Determination is one thing, but a modicum of talent is usually also required.
Good things come to those who wait
I actually said this to my toddler just the other day, when he was begging me for an ice cream. But seriously, what? Good things rarely come to those who wait. Those who wait usually get the dregs of whatever is left, if anything at all. Don’t wait for good things to come to you, go out there and bloody well get them. (Except ice cream. Wait for that).
Everything happens for a reason
Oh yeah? What about cancer? What about car accidents? What about horrific events that leave people broken, or broke, or widowed? What reason could possibly be behind these things?
This cliché is often brought out during times of great stress, along with gems like ‘you only get given what you can handle’ and ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. What utter crap.
Sometimes shit just happens.
Cherish every moment
I know this one is usually well intentioned, and the people who say it are generally trying to help you to see the bigger picture. But seriously, shut up. I do not want to cherish the moment when I’m standing in the middle of Kmart with my hysterical fournado lying prostrate on the filthy floor, kicking and screaming because I won’t buy her (another) Frozen drink bottle. Or when it’s 4am and I’m up with a crying baby for the 10th time that night. Or when I’m so sleep deprived that I feel like I just want to walk out the front door and keep on walking.
Some moments are not worth cherishing. You’ve just got to get through them. Not cherishing every moment doesn’t mean I don’t value my life, and my experiences, it just means I choose to focus on the highlight reel, not the bloopers.
What other clichés drive you bonkers? Do you want more than just ‘happy’ for your kids?
This article was first published on Kidspot.