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Published on November 15, 2020 12:15 AM

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What to do when your president has a temper tantrum
There are several reasons presidents cry. Anyone who has ever had one and been up half the night with it – or all the night with it, night after night – can tell you this. Sometimes presidents cry because they're tired, sometimes they cry because they need their nappy changed, sometimes they cry because they don't want you to leave them, sometimes they cry because they have a gnawing pain in their tummy, and sometimes they cry because they're just being impossible that day and you should probably go to bed and leave them to it but somehow you just can't.

To anyone going through it currently: this phase will pass. Of course, a crying president demands incredible amounts of attention, and while you're in the thick of it, consumed by this, it may feel like it will never stop, or at least you won't make it out. There are many moments in the small hours where you stare at this crying thing and think wryly: wow, what happened to my life? I think I vaguely remember when it wasn't like this.

The television news – I like to think of it as the president monitor, lighting up each time he needs attention – has been on what feels like pretty much constantly in our house since 2016, the year that Trump won (and the UK began its own extended period of toddler meltdown). A child's formative years are so precious, and I'm sure our children will benefit enormously from all the times I've said "Shhhh, I'm watching the president," or occasionally even been forced to momentarily stop watching the president to deliver a behavioural verdict. "I know why you're acting up – it's to get my attention away from the president acting up. Well, it won't work."

Everyone has their parenting gurus – as a realist, I follow the Philip Larkin model. And it is typical of the parenting in our house that we, hugely belatedly, started thinking not that we should switch the president monitor off – don't be ridiculous! – but more along the lines of: should we … maybe say something?

Anyway, after a while we did. We said stuff to them like "We should probably mention that this isn't normal – at least, it didn't used to be. I mean, I know it's pretty much all the news you've ever known in your short and possibly already terminally disillusioned lives. But seriously, in the not-all-that-olden times, you could go DAYS without particularly thinking about politics. Longer!" Eventually we wondered if saying "This isn't normal" was even accurate. All our children are ...