The following was produced in partnership with Breeders, a show that is brutally, hilariously, and touchingly honest about the challenges parents face. Mondays at 10 pm on FX. Now Streaming on FX on Hulu.
Paul and Ally, the titular characters on the hilariously insightful new parent comedy, Breeders, understand something crucial about children: Sometimes they suck. Sometimes they seems as if they’re placed on this green Earth in order to unravel your sanity and expose you for the fool and weakling that you are. But there are two sides to this coin. Right before the kids push you to the breaking point, like clockwork they redeem themselves completely. Paul captures the two sides perfectly: “I would die for those kids. But also, I want to kill them.”
There’s no way around it — kids are tough. Parenting is a wild ride. And sometimes, the wheels come off the proverbial bus. If there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that some of your most trying moments as a parent are also the most satisfying, as every tantrum you weather is a reminder that nothing lasts forever — except your love for your kids and their love for you. Also, you’re not alone. This list outlining the many ways that kids suck (and rule, in quick succession) proves just that.
#1. They Hold You Hostage
Most parents live for the day when our toddlers will be big enough to take care of their own damn morning routine. But somewhere between you-dress-them and they-dress-themselves, there’s the you-dress-them-but-they-tell-you-what-they-want-to-wear stage. The thing about this stage is that your kids don’t actually want to wear the thing they say they do — they want to involve you in a power struggle. This is why, when they’re able, they ask for clothing that does not exist yet in their wardrobe. A t-shirt with a dinosaur that glows in the dark and growls? Doesn’t exist. And yet, here they are, melting down about this impossible t-shirt that they just made up — and there’s nothing you can do about it.
A Reminder: Reason #1 Why You Love Them: They are the embodiment of joy and laughter and can turn to happiness on a dime. If only you were so emotionally agile.
#2. They’re Lazy
Right up there with all-time exasperating parenting experiences is the inability to get your kid out of bed in the morning. Rewards, threats, alarm clocks, natural light. Nothing works. Why? One, because they felt like sneaking in books last night and so they did. Two, life is harsh and they are responsible for nothing. You provide food, a home, those soft warm blankets they won’t get out from under. Call it laziness if you want but, really, can you blame them?
A Reminder: Reason #2 Why You Love Them: Their lives are simple. Perhaps yours can be this simple again one day.
#3. They’re Narcissists
You saw the foreshadowing of this meltdown when you were in the produce aisle. By the time you reach the dairy case, he was in full-blown tantrum mode. And now, he’s flailing on the linoleum floor of the supermarket, refusing with all his might to get up. When a tantrum comes up, nothing in the world matters to your kid but your kid. It’s their way or the highway. Tantrums are a piece of childhood development that is, by definition, a little piece of narcissism. They feel deep, sad, angry feelings and they want to make the world feel what they’re feeling. It’s a phase. It will pass. But, rest assured, your tantruming kid truly is a narcissist.
A Reminder: Reason #3 Why You Love Them: They still understand truth. Adults triangulate truths to not offend or to get people on their side. Your kid calls it like they see it.
#4. They’re Animals
We all know kids are messy. But, like a disobedient dog or, we’ll say it, a feral pig, your kid has a second sense for a place that’s too clean. It usually happens right before guests come over. The kid has watched you tidy up, clean in places they’ve never seen you go before, put away toys that don’t ever get put away. On cue, they decide to drag their toy box clear out of the closet and empty about 2,000 puzzle pieces all over the living room floor while simultaneously dumping their sippy cup of (very red) juice on the rug. Remorse is not a thing they’re about to express, so just get busy cleaning it up.
A Reminder: Reason #4 Why You Love Them: They think you are a model human, no matter what you do. You will never be so adored.
#5. They’re Self-Destructive
Kids seem to have a genetically-mandated death wish. When they’re not cutting their own hair off for the fun of it, they’re running around with scissors, testing the mettle of balconies, dashing into the street with nary a look, and generally putting themselves in harm’s way. It’s a parent’s job to make sure a kid lives to see 18 — but it seems that kid is hellbent on fighting you every step of the way.
A Reminder: Reason #5 Why You Still Love Them: They live in the moment. No amount of meditation practice or self-help could get you to the level of life immersion that your kid expresses so naturally.
#6. They’re Also Just Regular Destructive
For parents, white is the color of regret. In a house with children, white shirts will soon pair with red marker. White carpet with purple crayons. White leather seats with mauve, the shade of mom’s most expensive lipstick. Their brain wants to see how the world works, and this means interacting with things, making their mark, watching the change happen, and then moving on to their next artwork. Life is their canvas and you’re there to prevent them from oversaturating it.
A Reminder: Reason #6 Why You Love Them: They never stay mad. While you’re still resenting that meltdown that ended just minutes ago, they have moved on — they’re miles away in a happier place.
#7. They Act a Little Bit Insane
Children’s laughter is a precious thing indeed. Well, sometimes. Then there is belly laughter and then there’s that incurable disturbed giggling that doesn’t end. It’s uncontrollable and they’re rendered completely useless for hours at a time. For an adult, this kind of behavior is certifiable. For a kid, well, it’s still certifiable, but parents are expected to give it a pass anyway.
A Reminder: Reason #8 Why You Love Them: They love you unconditionally. You’re simply returning the favor.
#8. They Want to End You
It’s 30 minutes before a big car trip and your kid refuses to use the toilet. They’re distracted, they’re ready to go, they’re obstinate. Like clockwork, 45 minutes into your drive, they have to go. Bad. The thing about this scenario is that it doesn’t repeat once. It’s a cycle that occurs with hourly regularity. You ask them to do something that is for their own good. They fight you. Time passes. They ask you to help them do that thing that is for their own good. If there were a better formula for deep psychological torture, we’ve yet to hear of it.
A Reminder: Reason #8 Why You Love Them: They are remarkably resilient. One day, you too will bounce back.
#9. They’re Petty
Q: What do siblings fight over? A: What do you got? They have an outsized sense of personal injury and as such they are experts at finding wrongs in the world. Another way to put it: Kids seem to look for excuses to be cruel. And while they’re petty in what offends them, their ability to conduct revenge is not so small-minded. A worthy response to a sister sticking her tongue out in your direction? A dollop of peanut butter in her hair and a kick to the shins seems reasonable enough. A friend borrows your favorite toy a bit too long on the playground? Time to fling some dog poop in their general direction. The biggest victim here is the parent who has to mediate such irrational and outsized squabbles.
A Reminder: Reason #9 Why You Love Them: They bring a new perspective to the same old routine. Life truly gets a new light.
Breeders, a show that is brutally, hilariously, and touchingly honest about the challenges parents face, airs Mondays at 10 pm on FX. Now Streaming on FX on Hulu.