I’ll say it again: I don’t hate my son.
I get frustrated with my kid and he pisses me off and he acts like an asshole (it’s in his genes) and I’m not afraid to say so (to everyone other than him), but I don’t actually hate him. If I did hate him, I certainly wouldn’t write about it, even in character. Which is the problem.
I enjoy playing “Dad and Buried”, exaggeratedly mocking my son and bitching about being a parent, even though I actually love my son, and I love being his dad. Except since he turned four, I haven’t been loving either of those things very much.
And it’s cramping Dad and Buried’s style.
My son’s recent behavior is driving me crazy, and has been since his last birthday in September. Detective Munch is a loose cannon out there and I’m thisclose to taking away his gun and badge. I usually have his back but lately he’s out of control and he’s gonna get someone killed – namely, Dad and Buried.
The “Dad and Buried” persona allows me to express feelings I don’t really have, at least not to the same level to which I often express them. It lends distance and deniability to my comments (“I’m just fooling around, can’t you take a joke?”) and allows me to vent about the (very real) frustrations of being a parent while simultaneously highlighting the absurdity of believing the stuff that I say.
The most obvious example of this is when I write about hating my son. (And when don’t I?)
Most of the time it should be pretty obvious that I don’t hate my son, even in posts that are ostensibly about why I hate my son. Joking is fun, hopefully entertaining for you to read, and is a healthy way to deal with the very real challenges of being a dad – or a mom – these days. I’m using D&B as a shield, sometimes to mock people who feel a certain way, sometimes to mock myself for feeling a certain way. I mean, seriously hating a four-year-old? Okay.
Can you imagine how terrible a person I would have to be, not only to hate their child, (although I’m sure there are some kids out there that probably do deserve it, as much as anyone can “deserve” hatred), but to openly, honestly, earnestly WRITE about hating him in a public forum? I may be an asshole, but come on. At the very least, it would remove the moral and intellectual superiority I have over the humorless commenters on the Huffington Post, because they’d finally be right to call me out for saying such terrible things and being a terrible father. I would be a terrible father if I believed those things.
Say I suddenly I stop writing jokes about the kid being a dick and I stop slamming him for ruining my life. Say I give up that ironic distance. What I’m left with is two choices: 1) write serious posts about the terrible state of my life as a father or; 2) write flat-out bullshit about how amazing parenting is. NO THANKS.
But the problem is, I actually kind of do hate my four-year-old these days. And that makes pretending to hate him a lot harder. If my buffer is removed – if I’ve gone from pretending to say terrible things to actually saying them, I’ve crossed a line I don’t want to cross. I don’t want to hate my son, and I don’t want people to think I do. (I don’t mind if some people think I do, because those people are morons.)
I always strive to be honest here, and I don’t think the fact that I exaggerate or joke or use satire obscures the truths I’m trying to express – that parenting isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be and that it’s okay to dislike the gig sometimes – is at odds with that. But there’s a difference between being honest and being real. I don’t want to get too real. I want a barrier, or at least a layer of gauze, between my life and what I share here, and online.
If that veneer gets stripped away? I’m screwed.
I’m not going to write bullshit touchy-feely posts because that’s not who I am, and I’m not going to write raw pieces about hating my son because that’s not who I want to be. Besides, I know that it’s not him I hate, it’s just his age, and his behavior. Saying otherwise would be a disservice to him and me, and to you. So I don’t say it.
Instead, I write about it here, in character, both to prevent myself from saying it and to allow myself to say it, if only for a second, if only as a joke. Because writing about hating my son helps me realize how much I don’t want to, and how much I really, truly don’t.
That said, this behavior had better end soon, because, full disclosure? We’re getting close, and if I can’t write jokingly about hating my son, I can’t write about anything!