Mom and Buried and I spent the weekend enjoying a local music festival. We knew from the start that Detective Munch wouldn’t be accompanying us to the many night-time shows, but – because we wanted him to experience some live music, which he loves – we took some of the daytime events.
On Saturday, we went to the less interesting (read: bluegrass) bands that were playing outside somewhere, rather than inside some dank dive bar my son couldn’t get into. It worked out okay; the kid got to dance and interact with dogs and strangers and we got to have a beer or two while doing our best to prevent our son from getting bit by disgruntled dogs and strangers.
It’s called compromise, and it’s part of being a parent. But on the eve of his third birthday, it’s time for my kid to start holding up his end of the bargain.
Without a toddler in tow, we would have been inside that dank dive bar, listening to some music we actually liked. Fine. I would’ve been inside in the A/C. My wife would have been outside, probably at the bluegrass band. She likes that bullshit. The point is, neither of us was inside a bar, because we’re parents, and we (almost) always have a toddler in tow. So we don’t get to just do whatever we like whenever we want.
In the past, when he was a baby, we called it “sacrifice.” We did things for him despite his complete lack of awareness and total disinterest. But now that he’s developing interests and a personality, and a generally very happy and easygoing one, I prefer the term “compromise.” There are things he prefers to do that aren’t usually the things we prefer to do, but because we enjoy his company, we compromise so we can do stuff together. The true sacrifice would be not spending time with our son.
(Of course, until he starts pulling his weight, it’s not a “compromise” either. It’s us making concessions, i.e., sacrifices. Dammit.)
Parents compromise a lot for their kids, and while we get the privilege of watching them grow up bit by bit, we give up a lot more than they give back, at least for the first 30 years. Which is as it should be. But sometimes, the giving can be overwhelming, especially in the face of nonstop whining, constant messes, bedtime brawls, mealtime melees, Target tantrums, public embarrassment, stifled social lives, and the general lack of sleep, money and serenity.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m used to it. Like most parents, Mom and Buried and I are accustomed to shifting our priorities and sublimating our desires in order to accommodate our progeny. Parents alter what they watch, alter what they eat, alter where they go, alter how we get there, some even alter who they hang out with. It’s just the way it goes. And goes. And goes. And…
It’s time for our kids to start doing some altering! After all, for true compromise to exist, each side needs to give in a little bit, to concede something. It can’t just be us all the time! Not anymore! So I don’t care if he’s grumpy when he wakes up, I’m watching ESPN, not “Super Why!” And the next time I go shopping I’m getting the pretzel Goldfish instead of cheddar! Oh, you’re allergic to cats? Too bad, because I love cats! I’ll pick up a prescription for you on the way back from BUYING MYSELF A KITTEN.
It’s time to take a stand!
Seriously, as soon as he gets up from his nap and I’ve fed him his afternoon snack and helped him go potty and let him watch an episode of “Super Why!” (let’s be honest, I’ve seen enough ESPN to last a lifetime!) and we’ve played some catch unless he wants to dance or build LEGOs or draw or play with Play-Doh, heck, maybe we’ll do all of it!, I’m totally going to explain what a “compromise” is once and for all!
*breaks down into tears*