When we moved back to Brooklyn, our already-complicated apartment search was complicated further by Detective Munch’s upcoming entry into preschool. In New York – if you believe the hype – even the preschool your kid attends can influence his future.
We ultimately had to choose between two schools: one that had some potential drawbacks but was in a much more convenient location, and one that had a better reputation, but would be a hassle to get to. Life was so much easier when there were fewer people to worry about. Now I have to consider the toddler?
We chose the better, less convenient school. Because parenting.
Later today, I’ll be attending my first parent-teacher conference.
As a kid, parent-teacher conference day was nerve-wracking. (“Oh shit! What is the teacher going to say about me? Am I going to get in trouble?”) Now that I’m the parent, it will be interesting to experience it from the other side. Or it will be when it matters. Right now, I don’t think it does.
Detective Munch is four. He’s in preschool. Unless he’s biting other children or spending all class in the corner doing science experiments, I don’t think there will be any major developments.
But there is one thing I’m dying to learn.
I hate judgment, especially when it comes to parenting.
It’s presumptuous and self-righteous and, worst of all, it only serves to obscure – if not outright obliterate – the empathy that should be both the prevalent emotion and the primary response to seeing another parent struggling. We all live in the same huge glass house, surrounded by miniature walking wrecking balls, and we’re all barefoot and bloodied, like John McClane.
Being given a hard time when your kid isn’t behaving is the last thing a parent needs.
It’s hard enough being responsible for the safety and development of a brand new, slowly-developing, borderline-feral human being without someone explaining to you everything you’re doing wrong.
It’s never right to judge. So why do I want you to judge me?
Mom and Buried sent me a link to a parenting article, as moms do. After promising her I’d read it and then lying that I’d read it! (as dads do!), I quickly went back and actually read it. It was kind of difficult to focus, though, what with all the eye-rolling.
Parenting articles can be frustrating to read, despite the fact that they often contain some truly useful suggestions. All parenting advice is great in theory and in a vacuum; that’s why non-parents love dishing it out.
Of course, in real-life situations, with real-life sociopathic children and real-life at-the-end-of-their-rope parents, it’s not long before your best laid plans explode in your face.
Which is exactly what makes this kind of parenting advice so easy to mock.
Parenting is a nonstop merry-go-round of comparison, guilt and judgment.
We feel guilty when we screw up. We judge other parents when they screw up. We endlessly compare ourselves to those same parents, unaware – or, more honestly, unwilling to accept – that they are experiencing exactly the same trials and tribulations, riding the same roller-coaster, as we are.
We pit ourselves against the world, against non-parents and other parents and even our spouses, eliminating the curve and grading everything on a scale of zero or 100, using extreme language in the service of unrealistic standards. In so doing, we isolate ourselves from each other.
It’s time we started using our broad assumptions and wild generalizations to be inclusive instead of exclusive. I’ll give it a try.
My son is only four, but with the speed at which children grow up these days, it won’t be long before he starts going on dates. So I thought I’d write a little something to anyone who is considering going to the drive-in and the ice cream stand – or maybe the roller rink and soda shop? I’m out of touch – with my son.
(If you have a daughter, try these or these, from much nicer people than me.)
He’s a friendly, good-looking kid, so I don’t blame you for being interested. Just be careful.
If you want to date my son, it’s your funeral.
Parenting is the worst thing in the world and the worst part about it is how fast it goes by.
Such is the paradox every mom and dad must come to terms with as soon as their first child is born. The bad parts are plentiful, the good parts are transcendent, and everything is over before you know it. I bitch a lot about pretty much all of it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also love it. Personally, if I can’t bitch about something, it might as well not even exist. Which makes every rant against the hassle of child-rearing just further evidence of how important it all is to me.
Which means this list of things I hate about parenting is actually kind of a love letter, if that helps you feel better.
I wouldn’t expect you to understand. If you’re not from here, it must seem alien to you.
Around these parts we do things differently, and if you’re not born and raised in this culture, you’re probably never going to get it. We eat different foods, we use different slang, we wear different clothes, and yes, we discipline our children differently.
So I can’t condemn Adrian Peterson for what he did. It’s a part of his culture.