Everyone hates going to the dentist.
These days, my two-year-old’s bedtime routine is making me hate BEING the dentist.
I didn’t realize that teaching my kid how to be a normal person would be such hard work.
Kids are strange.
Even my own son, whom everyone thinks is my spitting image and who you’d assume shares some of my personality traits and interests, is alien to me in many ways.
Every day he does things that make no sense to me. Which should be good preparation for his teen years, when he’ll be into stuff I have no understanding of and he’ll hate stuff I love just because I love it. But his thought process is not yet that sophisticated and, therefore, might even be more honest.
Some of the stuff he hates he hates because he’s young and doesn’t know any better. Some of it is because he’s two and two-year-olds like to be jerks. And some of the stuff he likes he likes because he’s young and doesn’t know any better, some of it is because he has a little bit of Mom and Buried in him too, and some of it is because he’s as unique as a snowflake.
A snowflake I thought I knew.
I remember when my son learned to say “No.” The moment haunts my dreams.
Much like the discovery of lying, when a child learns to say “no,” it’s another step on the road to having a teenager. Another step on the road from merely “keeping your offspring alive” to actually “raising a human being.” Another step on the road from having low blood pressure and a healthy head of hair to looking, and heart-attacking, like Roger Sterling.
As a new parent with grand ideas of how you’ll raise the perfect child and do everything right, you initially try to limit how often you say “no” in the hopes that your kid won’t pick up on its power and start wielding it himself. But he does. He certainly has in my house.
And now it’s no longer about avoiding no; it’s about reclaiming it. Because these days, the word is all his.
This post isn’t about uplift, as I have none to offer. It’s not about expertise, as I’m no expert. I’m merely a normal parent, a relatively new one at that, and it’s at times like this that I most feel the weight of that responsibility.
I have a two-year-old son. He isn’t yet able to comprehend an event like yesterday’s bombings, let alone formulate questions about it, but seeing the footage would undoubtedly scare him (especially since he’s too young to understand whatever explanation we might offer for the event). Which makes watching the news nearly impossible.
As with most everything else, a complicated situation is complicated even further by my responsibilities as a father.
I love Boston. I attended Boston College and lingered in the city for another decade after graduation, in Brookline, Southie and the South End – not more than a ten-minute walk from where the bombs exploded. It’s a great town, home to many close friends and the setting of some of my favorite memories, a handful of which were actually made on Marathon Mondays, watching the race from the Pizzeria Uno on Boylston Street – shocking close to the finish line – keeping track of the Red Sox game while cheering on the runners. It’s truly a shame that this tragedy will now be associated with what has always been one of the best days of Spring in New England.
Even without a personal connection, tragedies like this used to be easier – somehow – before I had a child.
There are certain environments in which it’s not healthy for children to grow up: brothels, crack houses, religious cults, tour buses, Staten Island, etc.But you don’t have to be a pimp or Tommy Lee to create a negative atmosphere for your kids. Sometimes you just have to be in a bad mood.
It’s impossible to be a human being in this day and age and not get pissed off once in a while. But unless you’re the unbalanced coach of a college basketball team or my old college roommate, you probably know how to handle your anger. At least, you think you do, until you have a toddler.
I don’t care how mild-mannered you are, occasionally you’re gonna get mad. Maybe not at your child, but probably in his vicinity, and often about stuff he does.
Then you’ll really find out how good your anger management really is. (Not Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management,” or even Adam Sandler’s. They’re both terrible.)
When I was a kid, my biggest fear was being kidnapped. I mean, who wouldn’t want this little heartthrob cooling up their house?
As I grew up and that terrifying two-part episode of Diff’rent Strokes faded from my memory, the whole kidnapping fear evaporated. Other anxieties emerged and receded through the years until I became quite fearless… provided I’d had ten beers and you agreed to no punches to the face or groin.
Then I had a kid. And I became fearmore.
In many ways, having kids is great.
I can’t think of a lot of examples right now, but I like interacting with the hot moms at the playground, and I’ll probably be able to get a dog out of this whole thing pretty soon, since my son is obsessed and my wife can’t tell him no. So those are some perks. Plus, kids change your perspective and make you a better person and shift your priorities and let you see outside yourself and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Those Z’s are purely figurative, by the way, because the flip-side to that “I’ve never been happier!” coin is that children also steal your sleep, drain your finances, shred your lifestyle, eliminate your free time and, I’m learning, increase your blood pressure.
When I lived in Boston and NYC, this weekend’s St. Paddy’s celebration was a big deal. But now, I live in the south – I’m not sure they’ve even heard of the Irish – AND I have a two-year-old. Day-drinking my way through St. Patrick’s Day is a lot harder with a toddler.
Even one who has got some Irish in him. (And has been there!)
My son likes to play this game called “Give Mommy and Daddy a heart attack!”
The rules are simple: he goes about his normal, everyday business, and Mom and Buried and I freak out at every stupid and dangerous thing he does.
Obviously, it’s not as fun for us.
When you child is sick, it’s dote city: Everything they need, anything they ask; you’ll do whatever it takes to comfort him and make him feel better.
No ice cream before dinner? NOT TODAY.
Don’t usually allow TV during the day? OUT THE WINDOW.
Lollipops aren’t good for you? WHO CARES!
Unfortunately, when you’re sick, such compassion is rarely returned.