Let me break down parenting for you, and why it’s so hard.

Before you have kids, you think it’s the diapers or the late nights or the mortification of trading in your car for a minivan. But really, it’s the mind games. It’s the daily, hourly micro-aggressions involved in living with totally volatile and irrational people.

It’s the gray matter that gets lost each day when you try to reason with the unreasonable.

It’s the tax on your brain of trying to keep your cool when they lose theirs.

Remember that scene in Meet the Parents, when Ben Stiller is the only passenger on a plane and yet they make him stand there while they call every row? And your brain melts a little from the sheer ridiculousness? It’s like that. Every five minutes.

Case in point:

One day Karis asked Mark to give her “high ponytails”. He obliged:

(Please notice the mastery of technique here for maintaining optimal ponytail height).

Things seemed fine. . . as they often do. That’s the thing: you never know when things are gonna turn. You might think that after you’ve DONE WHAT THEY ASKED, with purpose, that this would not be the moment of rage. But you would be wrong. So wrong. (For more references of kindness met with rage, see my #assholeparent tag on instagram.)

When you least expect it . . . it’s coming. Case in point, I turned the camera on my daughter to try to capture a photo of the ponytails her dad just made. Surely this will be a cute shot with a beaming smile. But wait.

No words. No explanation. Just a quiet hand up to the ponytail, and then screaming and flailing.

Why, you might ask? Why indeed. This is the question we asked repeatedly, as she tantrumed.

When she was finally able to gain a level of composure, she told us through sobs that she had wanted rolled ponytails. It bears mentioning that a) we have no idea what “rolled ponytails” means, and b) there was no mention of rolled ponytails during the execution of said ponytails. That’s the fun thing about four-year-olds. They expect you to know everything AND read their minds.

After much tearful discussion, we were finally able to ascertain that “rolled ponytails” mean “buns”.

Y’all, THIS IS THE STUFF that makes me want to lose my mind.

Last month Karis threw a fit in the car because she was wearing a three-quarter sleeve dress so the dress was neither short nor long-sleeved. A half hour of screaming because she could not pull the sleeve down to her wrist.

Kids, man. So cute. So worth it. But so challenging for those who value logic.