My parents live in Connecticut, about two hours away. We often take a family road trip to visit for the weekend, especially in the summer, because they have a pool — and also because my six-year-old prefers Grandma to me.
My wife and I dread those trips. Not as much as we dreaded them when we lived ten hours away, but at least back then we only had the one kid to worry about. Sure, two hours is a lot shorter than ten, but that eight-hour difference is more than made up for by the nightmare that is a screaming baby in the backseat.
We had a family road trip or three over the long Thanksgiving weekend. And, thanks to the approach Mom and Buried and I take, we survived them all. You can too!
Kids will surprise you.
About two years ago, a casting director from David “The Wire” Simon’s new show accosted me and Detective Munch (as we were walking down our street) and asked if he would be willing to appear in a scene. One of their actors had gotten sick and they wanted to film my son as he pretended to sleep. Easy-peasy!
I was ecstatic. Finally, my kid was gonna be a star, and my golden ticket, and it was all going to start with an appearance in the next project by the creator of my favorite TV show of all time! And then my then four-year-old started screaming. And screaming. And screaming. And the casting directed started backing away, and away, and away. Just like that, my hopes were dashed.
Along with any potential college fund for my selfish little dream killer.
Over the weekend, while I was giving my son a bath, we started talking about Disney’s Robin Hood. My son said he liked it — except for the ending, when the main characters kiss and get married.
“Ya know, you might want to get married someday…”
“I might want to marry a boy.”
“You can do that.”
“Boys can marry boys, and girls can marry girls.”
“That’s right. The important thing is that you marry someone you love.”
(I’ll stop quoting our conversation there, before he expressed his desire to marry Mommy and also to marry multiple friends from his kindergarten class.)
The conversation got me thinking…
I’m not one to mince words or make excuses. I never have been, and that didn’t change when I became a parent.
This is why I often find it irritating to hear all the ways parents try to avoid blaming their kids for bad behavior. This is aside from the fact that most other parents, and other parents’ children, are irritating to begin with! (No offense, fellow parents. I barely like myself when I’m parenting. It’s not really a good look on anyone.)
Sure, we all make excuses for our kids from time to time, and some of them are warranted – even necessary. Kids are kids. I’m 40, and not only do I struggle to contain my emotions half the time (especially while watching football or when my 5-year-old wakes me up at 2 a.m. by jumping onto my crotch), I also barely know what I’m doing half the time. I certainly don’t expect my children to have a handle on themselves.
But that doesn’t mean they get a pass. That doesn’t mean that every time they misbehave it needs to be rationalized.