Despite the fact that I could quote Cape Fear ALL DAY LONG and just pretend I’m having a conversation with my toddler –
“I can out-learn you. I can out-read you. I can out-think you. I can out-philosophize you. And I’m gonna outlast you! ”
– that’s not what the title of this post refers to.
This post is about Other Parents and the way they use their experiences to scare you.
The day after Mother’s Day, it’s almost time for MotherBoy Day.
“I have lupus.”
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.
As you may or may not know, I tweet a lot. Most of my tweets are at my son’s expense, some are at my expense, and a handful are at my wife’s expense, much to her chagrin. Some are true, some are pure fiction, and some – perhaps most – are true-ish.
Like this one, which is among my most retweeted:
“The fact that I just angrily yelled ‘You’re not the boss of me!’ at my two-year-old is a pretty clear indication that he definitely is.”
I don’t believe I’ve ever yelled that at my son; at least not out loud. But it’s 100% true, just the same.
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.
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.
The last time March Madness rolled around, I had a full-time job. The job afforded me the flexibility to work from home one day a week, and on a day like today – the second day of the tournament – such a set-up seemed ideal.
Of course, working from home wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, as I was never able to be as helpful to my wife as she would have liked, just as my days as a stay-at-home dad aren’t spent boozing and watching sports. Except for when my kid naps.
You can read all about the double-sided sword that working from home proved to be in the post I’ve resurrected below. And I know half of you banged out sick today, so you have time.
Original Post: Home-work: Almost as Bad as Actual Homework