Team Cheetos

Uncle Craig is a force of nature. He is loud and brash, he is 100% committed to everything he engages in, he is unkempt and disheveled, his ass is halfway out of his pants on a good day and he loves RR more than all of her other relatives combined. He is a coach (among other things) and he does not (cannot?) check his obsession with sports and, more importantly, doing sports well, at the door. In fact, he would coach a snake out of its skin sheerly for the sake of seeing a job well done.

On Saturday morning, he coached RR in proper use of the bathroom, demonstrating how to get the paper, lock the door, and enjoy some privacy, complete with realistic grunting noises. The narration was spirited until it became more than coaching. Previously, he coached RR in how to tell a three-pointer from a two-pointer and how to eat Cheetos for breakfast. I think it frustrates him when we say that she has to eat her eggs before she can have a sleeve of powdered doughnuts. Although he always does what we ask, his feelings are clearly hurt. I just like watching her eat he says I can’t help it. It’s an impasse. “I can’t help it” is not going to make me say, “Oh! Well in that case!”

His coaching is so pervasive, it filters into every last interaction, even a trip to see Santa. I think I heard him ask her three times whether she was going to sit on Santa’s lap and every time she said no. We’re inclined to respect her opinion and usually try to strike a compromise, in this case, looking at but not visiting with Santa. That, she thought, would suit her just fine. Fine for us, perhaps. Uncle Craig inserted his own opinion into the mix, insisting that we needed to desensitize her and just keep sitting her on his lap over and over and she would eventually like it. After all, that’s what he did with his own son when he appeared to be afraid of mascots.

This is fine advice for some families. I’m not down with the whole concept of desensitization, at least in the case of lap-sitting. But I bit my tongue every time he launched into another Santa spiel trying to take my cues from RR. In the end, she sat next to the jolly old elf without any prodding (brilliant, the bench concept).

It’s complicated, this whole parenting thing. Every so often I get the impression he’s trying to be RR’s “father figure” and feels that it’s important to bring man stuff into her life, which, do not even get me started. Most of the time though, I think he’s just being himself which is parts overbearing, obnoxious, and busy absolutely adoring his niece. photo (4)

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7 Responses

  1. Maybe it might be that coaching is the way he’s most comfortable interacting with kids?

    • Probably so! In all, it’s the sort of personality she doesn’t interact with often so it’s a good thing. Variety is the spice of life and all that!

  2. *sigh*

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’m already dreading this type of stuff from family/friends. He sounds like a decent guy who genuinely loves RR, but it does irritate me when people lead from their own context and value system, particularly in regards to OTHER PEOPLE’S children.

    I personally find the whole “force your kid to sit on Santa’s lap despite tears and fearfulness” thing absolutely ridiculous. But part of our society’s culture around children is based on the idea that they’re not real people with their own set of feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. We constantly push them beyond their own comfort zone in order to create images that make us feel good, even if it also creates tremendous discomfort within our children.

    Furthermore, we tend to get a rise out of seeing them struggle because we find it amusing. I’m thinking specifically of the Jimmy Kimmel stunt where he has parents tell their kids they ate all their Halloween candy and then video record the inevitable tantrum/meltdown. HOW is that acceptable?

    I’ll never understand the point or value behind forcing your child to do something that makes them sincerely upset or frightened.

    Glad that RR was okay and took to the Red Suit with no issue, but I absolutely would have supported y’all if you stepped in to prevent her from being forced to interact with him!

    /rant :)

  3. We are currently at the ‘look at him’ don’t ‘sit on him’ stage as Punky is still not yet 2 and is very not interested in being near the jolly old man. I don’t know that desensitizing your kid is the best method, it may work for some, but you know her better than anyone. I’m sure he’s just trying to be helpful, but I’m glad you know where the boundaries lie and can speak up for her when needed. :) I’m not at all surprised!

  4. Ah yes…the fine fine line between “means well” and “oversteps boundaries.” I’ve been on both sides of this–it’s so tricky.

    In regards to the Santa issue, I think it’s another example of the world being pro-extrovert and anti-introvert. As an extroverted mother of an introvert, I notice it a lot more these days. It’s hard for me to know how hard to push. I worry about coddling but also about traumatizing. Kids, man. If it’s not one thing, it’s a mother.

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