Exercises in Futility

I commented once on Facebook that there is nothing more pointless than cleaning your house while there are still children in it.    Most people agreed.

However, today I would like to amend that statement.   I maintain that there is nothing more pointless than cleaning one’s house while there are still children living in it, but today I put forth the idea that there are several things that are equally pointless.  Below you will find an incomplete list, including the rationale behind the inclusion of each item.


1.  Trying to make a 2 year old eat.

My children are, as a general rule, pretty good eaters, and for the most part, feeding a two year is a fairly effective exercise however, there are times when for whatever reason, the two year old in question does not want to eat.  I postulate that in that case, it is not possible to get that two year old to eat.

As an extreme example I’ll tell you about a gal I work with whose, now four year old, son has not eaten anything other than graham crackers, pringles, milk and apple juice in 2 years.  It began shortly after her daughter was born, when her normal, well adjusted, two year old son suddenly decided that he only wanted to eat graham crackers and he’d only drink milk.  For a little while, a few days, that wasn’t too big of a deal, her child asserting his independence, then it was annoying, then concerning.  Finally my friend, Corinne, decided that enough was enough and her son needed to eat something else.  So she refused his requests for milk and/or graham crackers, offering instead, the entire contents of her kitchen.  She though, as perhaps several of you have, that given enough time, he’d get hungry enough that he’d eat something else.  He didn’t.  He went for 36 hours without eating anything at all. Finally, Corinne, as a nurse, decided that she was unwilling to take him in to the ER for dehydration without at least trying something else so she took a big syringe home from work, filled it with apple juice and made a game of squirting the apple juice into his mouth, thereby expanding his palate to include apple juice.  But he would go no further and eventually she gave up.  (He has since expanded to include Pringles but, as I mentioned, it’s been 2 years…)

2.  Telling children to be nice, to not call one another names, to keep their hands, feet and other objects to themselves, to mind their own business.

I have no long drawn out story for this one, just my life.  But this never works.  Ever.  Inevitably they keep doing whatever it was that was driving their sibling, and their parents crazy until they’re good and ready to stop.  Sometimes physically moving one or more involved parties has some limited success but realistically there’s nothing to be done other than to just get through it.

3.  Asking (pleading with, begging, exhorting…) a child to use the toilet rather than the floor, their pants, the planter, etc…

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Now this list is hardly exhaustive and with only 3 (4 if you count the house cleaning part) entries it hardly counts as a list at all.  So I need your additions.  What is the most futile thing that you do?  That you live with?  Something animal related?  Political? Whatever.  Let’s see it.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. melanie
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 08:41:42

    I just want to add heat vent to #3. It’s weird but people leave that one out all the time and it really should always be included! duh!

  2. Kristina P.
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 09:01:16

    That story about the 4 year-old is insane!! Wow.

  3. Sarah
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 09:22:32

    That 2-4 year-old was amazing! My son’s never gone that far… though I guess I’d end up feeding him too if he just never ate… all he’s done is skip one meal. It’s going to make dates for that kid very interesting, “Yes, I’ll take a plate of graham crackers and a glass of milk. Anything for you, Sweetheart?”

    I’d say it’s pretty futile to try getting any sleep for the first year of your kid’s life… especially during the week following shots. That idea of sleeping when your baby does, especially once you have more than 1, doesn’t really work… I actually passed out on the couch for 15 minutes yesterday, and I didn’t even mean to, I’m just that tired…

  4. evitafjord
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:31:20

    Pretty much those. My 10yo will skip meals like that, though I don’t think *I’ve* ever lasted 36 hours with her.

    also, the impossibility of convincing a 3yo that clothes are required, even in the house. and stop touching it all the time, but don’t get a complex about it.

  5. Chris Jones
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 20:32:19

    Trying to convince a teenager that getting a job will add to his life’s options and satisfaction.

    Trying to get said teenager to see that putting in an application and waiting for the phone to ring does NOT constitute “all you can do.”

    Persuading any child of any age that “hard work” on chores does not consist of seven minutes complaining about how hard it is.

    Oh, I got a million of them.

  6. LisAway
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 00:28:05

    Trying to get a kid aged 6-10 to show an ounce of responsiblity. Oh. My. Goodness. They never remember to do ANYTHING unless we stand over them and tell them to/walk them through it step by step. I seriously don’t know where I went so wrong in this department. Our theme this month for FHEs is “Learn Some Freakin’ Responsibility”

    Number 2 is a given, I think, with kids, at least at some stages, and we had some trouble with number one with Aaron. But I am pleased to say we’ve never had a problem with number three. I do have one more boy to raise, however. (we teach them to sit for the first year or two and I’m not sure why other mothers don’t do that.)

  7. Catherine
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 09:48:13

    Chris’ are good. I could read more of those.

  8. Annette
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 10:02:21

    Totally relate to the eating thing. The “experts” claim that a child won’t starve or go hungry. LIE.

    My current exercise in futility: stopping a teenage daughter from rolling her eyes or speaking with a tone. (You know what I mean, I’m sure, and can HEAR it in your head, right? Also–this is the same child who at 2 refused to eat.)

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