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Everyone has secrets, including parents. Especially parents!
Part of being a good parent is teaching your children right from wrong. In order to do that, they have to believe that you occupy the moral high ground and that you have the authority to judge what is right and what is wrong. You can do this in two ways: you can explain that you learned the difference over a lifetime of your own experimentation and your own failures and your own mistakes – which will backfire until your kid is at least 25 and finally understands just enough about life that he realizes the truth behind that; OR, you can lie. Mostly by omission.
The more your kids know about you, the harder your job will be. Trust me. I’m a regular Don Draper at home; my son has no idea what my real name is and I smoke like a chimney.
Here’s a list of some of the secrets that I keep from my son, and will continue to keep, at least until he’s old enough to hear them over a few beers.
I’m used to my son preferring my wife. I’m okay with it. It has its perks. Besides, young boys often favor their mothers. It’s biology.
It’s not like my kid and I aren’t close. Yesterday I pretended to eat his face and this morning he told me he doesn’t like it when I breathe. We’re buds!
But as we navigate threenage wasteland, Mom and Buried and I often have to resort to some good cop/bad cop parenting, which is pretty typical. Unfortunately I’m usually the bad cop.
No wonder he likes Mommy better.
My son turned 3.5 the other day.
Few things seem so obviously tailor-made for a Dad and Buried rant as the absurdity of half-birthdays. Unfortunately, when my wife got excited about Detective Munch’s mini-milestone, I found myself swept up in half-birthday fever myself, against my better judgment.
Despite my reservations – about spoiling the kid; about rewarding him for nothing; about the fact that his terrible threes haven’t exactly been his behavioral high-point so why the fuck should he get an extra made-up holiday right smack in the middle of it? – I helped celebrate it. Enthusiastically. We gave him a toy truck and a cupcake.
I think I’m part of the problem. I sang “Happy half-birthday” to him, for Christ’s sake.
By now, everyone knows the “terrible twos” are a myth.
Okay, maybe not a myth, because I’m sure they suck for many parents, but for many other parents, like Yours Truly, it’s year number three that proves to be far more harrowing.
Mom and Buried and I are now halfway through this “threenage wasteland” and we can’t wait for it to end.
Which, presumably, will be when he turns four, right? Unless there’s already some clever phrase for our son to live up to for that year, like the FOUR-ror Show.
Or maybe something better. Shut up.
My son can talk, which is great. Less great is that he can’t seem to stop talking.
Seriously. My kid never stops babbling. But that’s okay. The trouble isn’t that he talks, or even what he says, since a lot of the things he says are cute. Because he says things he doesn’t understand, and it’s hilarious when kids say darnd things. I won’t brag and say my son says the darndEST things, because I’m not a braggart, and besides, that’s for Bill Cosby to decide. But Detective Munch definitely says some pretty darnd things.
The trouble begins when we listen.
For my latest Zombie Post, I wanted to check in on my own progress. It’s not looking good.
Almost a year ago, I wrote the post below, about my realization that raising a good kid means I’ll need to retrain myself. Being a good parent doesn’t mean you have to change your personality but it does mean you’ll probably need to change some of your behavior. I’m not just talking about the typical adjustments to your swearing and drinking and sleeping. I’m talking about the instinctual behavior you’re not even necessarily aware of, like how you react to things. Because our kids notice EVERYTHING.
I’m a little disappointed to admit that I haven’t exactly succeeded in this endeavor, at least not just yet. It’s no easy thing to alter thirty-plus years of ingrained behavior, but that’s exactly why it’s so important. I need to help my kid grow up on the right track so that when he’s my age and has a kid of his own, he won’t need to reprogram himself. Some things you learn you can’t unlearn, which is why it’s so important to learn the right things early.
So I’ve resurrected this old post to give myself a bit of a kick in the pants. Because I can teach the big things until the cows come home, but it’s the little things that sometimes leave the largest impression.
Original Post: Raising Sane: The Art of the Underreaction
Over the weekend, my son unleashed his first (real) swear word. (A few months ago he said “damn” a few times but that hardly counts).
My son’s chosen curse was “bitch!” And, oddly enough, he didn’t direct it at Jenny McCarthy or Andy Dalton or even that evil maid on “Downton Abbey”. In fact, as far as Mom and Buried and I could tell, he didn’t direct it at anyone. He just kind of said it. And it was pretty evident that he had no idea what it meant.
But it didn’t stop the Buried household from doing some soul-searching. Nobody wants to raise an asshole.