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.
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.
A lot of things have changed since I became a father. I drink less, I curse less, I sleep less…
Of course, many of those things likely would have been changing anyway, by virtue of age and
maturity age. So my son doesn’t get all the blame, not in those instances.
He does, however, get all the blame for the alarming shift in my pop culture habits.
Altering the media you consume because you are a parent might seem like a minor thing to some people, especially pretentious snobs who don’t own computers and don’t watch TV, and obnoxious jerks who pretend they don’t own a computer or watch TV. But for me, it’s a big deal.
There are a lot of children’s stories about toys that yearn to become real. There’s the classic Disney flick Pinocchio, the melancholy children’s book “The Velveteen Rabbit” and the heartwarming and erotic Mannequin, starring silver-screen legend Andrew McCarthy.
These stories are all aimed at children, though some seem more appropriate for really, really dumb children (Mannequin). And there are plenty more in this vein. Oddly, there aren’t many toy-based stories for adults (unless you count porn).
But the lack of such stories for grown-ups makes sense. As a parent, it’s not often that I wish one of my son’s toys would become real, though it would be fun to pummel the life out of a flesh-and-blood Elmo.
On the other hand, I do occasionally wish my son would become a toy. At least there’d be less shit to clean up.
My son is out to get me. And I’m not just talking about the time he ordered a Big Mac at KFC.
As a kid, you have a tendency to see the adults in your life as the bad guys, especially when you’re a teenager. When you become a parent, it’s obvious that it’s the children that are the problem; dastardly little beasts who materialize in the middle of your already-in-progress life and proceed to wreak havoc.
Maybe one day my son will write a blog about how I’m the Big Bad in his life, but in my version of the story, I’m the superhero and he’s my nemesis.
In fact, there are a few famous villains from the pop culture rogues gallery that my kid has lately been bringing to mind.
My son doesn’t exactly lie yet. I mean, he does, but it’s so innocent – and about such childish things – that I hesitate to call it lying.
It’s more like acting. Which makes this the perfect time to talk about Oscar!
Not the most-likely-totally-lying Oscar who “allegedly” shot his girlfriend in South Africa but the most-likely-will-get-it-wrong-I-mean-Zero-Dark-Thirty-should-probably-win-but-at-least-Argo-winning-won’t-anywhere-near-as-bad-as-giving-it-to-Crash-the-whole-thing-is-a-meat-parade-Academy-Awards Oscar.
So, in honor of the female Super Bowl (with apologies to the opening weekend of the Sex and the City movie, I give you a list of my son’s best performances:
Mom and Buried was perusing a parenting website the other day and she came across some suggestions for ways to nip your toddler’s whining in the bud before it becomes a problem. (To quote Officer Jack Traven: Mister, we’re already there.) It made for some interesting reading.
I’m long on record with saying there’s no such thing as a parenting expert, so I don’t take most of those websites seriously. That said, there’s plenty of accumulated experience out there that can help guide you, especially if it’s your first rodeo, so there’s not need to dismiss every piece of advice out of hand. Just use your best judgment, and a little common sense, and you should be okay.
Unfortunately, the whole “common sense” thing seems to have been ignored by many so-called experts. Because after reading some of these websites, my only reaction is: