I think I’m pretty good at not letting what my 3 year old says in the heat of an argument about TV, eggy burritos, or going to bed (our 3 biggest topics of disagreement) really bother me. She will scream, she will throw a torrential downpour of tears and feigned violence upon me, and it’s really stressful and my blood pressure definitely rises, but I am reasonably good at getting her off the ledge without resorting to my own hysterics. That being said, yesterday was the first time she’s ever dropped her trump card, “I DON’T LOVE YOU DADDY!”, and I have to admit, it stung a bit. A lot bit.
Now, I’m as macho as any self-actualized-urban-dad-impersonator (SAUDI) out there, and I was raised not to complain,¹ so I’ve perfected my stoicism in the face of these outbursts. She generally has no idea how upset I am in inside.
Yesterday, however, she was displeased that I was picking her up and not her mother and when I dropped MY usual trump card for everything, “I love you, sweetie²”(seriously, try it on ANYONE in ANY situation, IT WILL WORK), she threw the “I don’t”royal flush response right back in my face. Lame poker references aside, I was floored.
I played it off relatively well and about 3 minutes later she was drooling in deep sleep in her carseat (perhaps this was just a response to extreme exhaustion), but it got me thinking — what if she actually doesn’t love me?
As a parent you are required by nature to love your children. It’s pre-programmed in those of us that aren’t deadbeats. But as a kid (who doesn’t have Autism and doesn’t appear to be a psycopath), you really aren’t genetically required to love your parents. We kind of have to earn that.
My question to you is, what is the threshold by which you’ve earned it? I suspect it’s different for every kid, but perhaps we should have something for parents that helps us better measure ourselves? Our world is so data-driven these days its only a matter of time until we mine our children’s brains to find out how to better manipulate them – there’s like, a ton of data in there. BIG DATA IS HUGE! I’m sure there is someone smarter than me out there who can develop this??
I see it as something that pediatricians could measure at the annual checkup, because everyone trusts there pediatrician implicitly. Perhaps these pediatricians can even provide parents something they can take home to keep track, like a fitbit for parental love. Or we could do it like we mark the wall benchmarking a child’s height. We had that growing up, it was hilarious, when I was 14 and the same height as when I was 10. That might be something better left up to a therapist rather than an RFP like this, but you get the general idea.
I’m not saying we drill into their brains and insert anything Orwellian, I’m no longer a monster! I’m thinking just a harmless node that measures love – like this love calculator – but a bit more scientific. SCIENCE IS SUPER! I was unfortunately never good at science and this post is getting a bit rambly.
If, unlike me, you are a scientist, but, like me, have a passion for experimenting on children, please contact me so we may work on this. jstaylor33 at gmail dot com. Thank you.
¹ which didn’t actually stop me from complaining, but that’s neither here nor there.
² the “I love you, sweetie!” is generally more unbeatable than a 4-of-a-kind.