My brother and his wife have a kick-ass parenting trick that I’ve long admired. Their kids are young and like most young kids they have a tendency towards temper tantrums, pouting and overreacting (luckily they have an equal tendency towards adorableness so we forgive them). When their first child was two years old they started greeting skinned knees and playground spats with one phrase, “Man, good thing you’re tough.” I was amazed over and over again at how often this statement was met with a whimpered “yeah” and a quick return to the swings. “Good thing you’re tough” is tantrum kryptonite.
I recently had a revelation -- “Good Thing You’re Tough” (GTYT) is not just brilliant parenting -- it’s brilliant life-ing. Shit be hard, yo! And, sadly, that isn’t going to change. Life is full of mean girls and ice cream scoops that slide off of your cone and onto the floor. GTYT! Cause if you weren’t tough there’d be afternoons of moping on the couch where there could be another ride on the merry-go-round. If you weren’t tough whole weeks could pass in a blur of pouting -- whole lifetimes could be wasted. But not yours! Cause you’re tough!
I often mid-pout remind myself that my life ain’t so bad and that I should buck up and move on rather than embarrass myself with a pity party. This usually works -- a few thoughts of folks stuck in a war zone or facing famine and I’m chagrined enough to wipe away the tears over expensive wedding venues or the breaking of a favorite glass. But GTYT is a vast improvement on “Shut Up, Cry Baby." GTYT says, “Hey this IS hard! no need for embarrassment!” GTYT says, “You’re awesome and you can handle this!” GTYT implies, “Other bitches would be hyperventilating with sobs by now, but you’re better than that!”
Reader -- you’re tough too. And if you’re not feeling tough there is no better way to toughen up then to keep telling yourself GTYT. My brother’s oldest is almost 6 and in the past couple of years I’ve caught her a comforting herself with a little GTYT after which she moves on all alone, no parental GTYT-ing needed because the toughness is internalized, its something she knows about herself. Its something we’d all do well to learn.