I spend a lot of time complaining about all the things parenting has taken away from me. My energy, my free time, any instance of silence, the ability to open a bag of chips without a mop-headed midget running in and demanding all of them, without even knowing what they are.
But today I’m looking at the bright side.
Parenting doesn’t just take, it gives. And over the past five years, I’ve acquired some amazing talents that never would have manifested if I weren’t responsible for a child.
Because with great responsibility comes great power…
Being a parent is hard.
You start from scratch every day and run until you’re empty, hoping that you’ve made a dent, that you did something right, that one of your lessons actually sticks. One of the intentional ones.
But you won’t know for a while. Not for years, not truly. And the lack of feedback, direct or otherwise, makes the job even harder. It’s impossible to know how well you’re doing and thus it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt.
This is why judgment from other parents is so obnoxious; it’s redundant. Every decent parent already constantly questions their own parenting.
Last year around this time, I wrote a fairly irrational post about Valentine’s Day, in which I questioned its prominence and the things it teaches children.
I must have woken up on the wrong side of my heart-shaped bed, because I don’t really care all that much about the holiday and its harmless traditions, and I don’t usually get carried away about things like that.
This year I’m making amends by embracing both Valentine’s Day and my son’s involvement in it.
Last night, I watched a movie about parenting. And it was the most terrifying movie I’ve seen in years.
The Babadook is phenomenal. It’s about more than just parenting – grief, depression, guilt, children’s books, insomnia, cockroaches, monsters – but at its core it’s about a single mom trying to raise a difficult child on her own in the aftermath of a tragedy, and the toll it takes on her, her son, and their relationship. Also it’s about a terrifying monster from inside a terrifying children’s book.
It’s probably the best horror movie I’ve seen in years, not least because most of the scares don’t come (solely) from the supernatural but also the psychological (like other favorite Rosemary’s Baby, or maybe Don’t Look Now). I highly recommend it; just try to choose a day when your kids aren’t pissing you off!
You wouldn’t know that The Babadook is about parenting by the title. But what would a movie about parenting be called?
Politicians are universally reviled. Especially American politicians. Especially American politicians in the 21st century. Not only can’t they do anything right, they can’t do anything at all! It would almost be cute if it didn’t have such impact on our lives.
Which is kind of the deal with kids too.
They may not be universally reviled (emphasis on may not be), it’s a lot easier to laugh at their antics when they’re not yours. And the similarities don’t stop there.
If you follow my Facebook page, this might be a bit redundant for you. But after two weeks of drinking and eating and drinking and drinking, I barely have the energy to keep my eyes open, let alone write a new post. So I’m milking this “year in review” thing one more time.
2014 was a good year for Dad and Buried. I moved back to Brooklyn after 18 lackluster months below the Mason-Dixon line (they do things differently down there), got a few sponsorship opportunities with which I annoyed half my readers, and increased my exposure by infuriating people who read the Huffington Post.
So to ease myself back into the swing of things, I’m kicking off 2014 with a list of my ten most popular blog posts of 2014.
Growing up, when I asked my parents what they wanted for Christmas, they always made a (sad) joke out of it. They knew my brothers and I didn’t have any money, so they didn’t bother asking for anything real, like a new car, or a box of Cuban cigars, or a new furniture set.
Instead, they used Santa the way someone might use a genie: by asking my brothers and me for things that were abstract, theoretical, and totally unattainable. Just to make a point. They’d make requests like, “for you and your brothers to get along” or “a little peace and quiet” or “for you to behave.” Just totally insane shit that would never happen in a million years.
Now that I’m a dad, nobody ever asks me what I want. But if they did? I’d reply exactly the same way as my mom and dad. Because I was wrong; they weren’t joking.
The intangible, imaginary stuff really is what parents want for Christmas.
My four-year-old’s commitment to being irrational is so absolute, it’s like living with Andy Kaufman. While he’s in character as Tony Clifton. I honestly can’t tell where the act ends and the real person begins. Or if there even is an act. Or a real person.
Children are little terminators. To paraphrase Kyle Reese, “They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” The only difference between my son and Arnold Schwarzenegger in that movie is that my son’s speech is more intelligible. And that Arnold loses. My son never loses.
Which is why I might start acting like a child at work.
I’m fairly well-educated. I went to college. I have almost two decades of experience in the professional world, and while I’m used to dealing with arrogant superiors and lazy peers and rude clients, nothing prepared me for dealing with a child.
Kids operate from an unrelatable place, often with no logical motivation or rationale for their behavior. They’re like something out of a horror movie; indefatigable, rarely-sated, and conscience-free. Kind of like your boss…or your clients…or your annoying coworker Karen!
I don’t care if you’re great at your job, and neither do your kids. Nothing you bring from work will help you at home. You can’t manage your children; they’re too unpredictable for that. But you can learn how to be a better manager from them.
I am in the middle of yet another trying fantasy football season. Two of them, actually, since I am participating in two leagues, like some kind of masochist. It’s been 12 weeks of misery, punctuated by occasional spurts of short-lived happiness.
Just like raising kids!
Seriously, parenting and fantasy football aren’t all that different (here’s what a fantasy parenting draft might look like!) There’s a lot of work, you have to pay a lot of attention, and nobody wants to hear about any of it.
I know, you think I’m an idiot. So I made a list!