Fickle Frustrations

It was potty training time. It wasn’t time to explain to the twins that whatever Daddy chose for their clothes was what they were going to wear. I never needed to have that conversation with my son and my oldest daughter quickly decided that picking her own clothes meant she had to go get them out of her closet. Sometimes the effort was worth it. Sometimes it wasn’t.

After a particularly successful morning good progress in the bathroom, I was feeling generous. I dressed Natalie without incident in a flowered overall outfit and a purple shirt. Before I could dress Anna in a jean overalls and an identical shirt, she ran away, citing a need to go potty. We were not in a place where that was ever not an option.

Back at the clothes pile, she said, “No purple shirt. Pink shirt!” I was okay with that. Natalie was wearing a purple shirt, so I figured she didn’t have to match if she didn’t want to. I got the pink shirt. In the meantime, Natalie realized that Anna was getting a different shirt, so she grabbed a new one for herself—with stripes. Even I know stripes don’t go with flowers unless the colors match really well. I told her she could change shirts after I was done with Anna. (Anyone else see two things I did wrong already?)

In the middle of the clothing change, Anna decided she hated the pink shirt and needed to have the purple shirt. I preferred the purple, so I quickly changed her into my original choice. She didn’t want the overalls. I was still in control (of myself if not the situation), so I calmly said, “No, wear the overalls,” and put her into it.

Natalie brought the clashing shirt over and we took off her overalls and purple shirt. The new shirt didn’t fit, so we took it off. I offered the pink shirt Anna didn’t want. She screamed that she had to have the purple shirt! What was I thinking? Anna saw that Natalie was wearing Mickey Mouse undies and quickly began undressing so she could change whatever she was wearing. And she had to wear the pink shirt! No, Natalie demanded the pink shirt!

That was pretty much it for me. A few minutes later, both girls were crying uncontrollably, Natalie was wearing a purple shirt and flowered overalls, Anna’s outfit was whatever it had been, and I was downstairs slamming cupboard doors in the kitchen.

Looking back, I can see where it all began to go wrong.

We had girls.

©2010, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. or E-Mail

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