Last week, I wrote a piece about many ways parents constantly second-guess themselves. I surely missed a lot of examples, which was inevitable; every parent has different anxieties, and every parent questions themselves in different ways.
But no matter the specific details of your insecurities, it all boils down to asking yourself the same thing: Am I a good parent?
In a recent post for Lifetime Moms, I mentioned that the issue of my son having “bad influences” – i.e., influences that aren’t his parents – wasn’t one I was expecting to encounter for a while. I expected him to be primarily under the influence of me for the next few years.
And then he met Xander.
And Xander ruined my son’s childhood.
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 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?
A few years ago, I wrote a post in which I declared that my son would never play organized football due to the health risks. When it ran on The Huffington Post this past fall, I got some angry comments.
So I was a little surprised when the people at the Esquire Network (check your local listings!) reached out and asked if I’d be interested in writing about the second season of their TV show about youth football in Texas, “Friday Night Tykes.”
I agreed, and have since viewed the first two episodes of the season (the third airs tonight at 9PM EST on Esquire Network). Has my opinion changed?
The short answer? Not one bit.
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.
Sometimes we parents have to lie to our kids.
To put it another way, if it makes you feel better: sometimes we have to use “parenting euphemisms.”
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.
A few days ago, we procured a reward chart for our son.
The hope is that by incentivizing his behavior we can train Detective Munch into a decent, reasonable person instead of the feral four-year-old he currently is. Our typical repertoire of threats is neither working nor healthy (nor really stopping because I’m terrible at this new “reward” method!)
So far, it’s been going okay. If he brushes his teeth (without a fight), or goes to bed (without a fight), or eats his dinner (without a fight), or gets dressed for school (without a fight), he can earn rewards like dessert, and TV, and not getting yelled at by a dad who is at the end of his rope.
It got me thinking about what a chart for parents would look like. So I made one.