So, CB and I spent the weekend on a lake in the middle of New York state with some friends and their kids. And every time we are around parents and their children for longer than about an hour, we are struck by two competing emotions. The first is OH MY GOD THESE KIDS ARE SO CUTE AND THEY LOVE US SO MUCH WE’RE GOING TO KILL IT AS PARENTS. And the second is OH MY GOD HOW WILL WE EVER BE PARENTS.
And I gotta tell you, the second one yells really loud!
Don’t get me wrong, you guys, I love some kids and like a few more. But the overall kid population at best, entertains me until I want some quiet time, and at worst, terrifies me to my very core.
First of all, every time we spend a significant amount of time around kids, we come back to our apartment, look at each other, and start tired-laughing about how quiet it is and how exhausted we are. Also, it should be noted that we are never in charge of anything like changing diapers, food patrol, or any sort of actual parenting. We are basically in charge of running the kids ragged so they’ll sleep on the car ride home and giving the parents a few hours of uninterrupted conversation with other people their height.
However, while CB is a natural and children gravitate towards him as a playmate and someone to literally and figuratively look up to, they tend to gravitate towards me as a peer. Which, to be fair to them, makes a lot of sense since I do possess the same sparkle shoes and find yelling randomly and pretending to be scared of monsters a legit pastime.
Also, my default when around kids isn’t necessarily to parent them – hopefully because they’re not mine and so I don’t struggle with whether to abduct my friend’s kids and raise them as my own. That’d likely be worse than just sort of letting kids talk with their mouths full when their moms aren’t looking and sometimes letting them put their elbows on the table. But I’m not a parent, so maybe I’m wrong.
I mean, I’m sure if CB and I are lucky enough to be parents to kids that are actually from our gene pool someday, things like looking out for their safety, making sure they’re fed, and knowing when to lay down a strongly worded monologue about not hitting your brother will start to just come naturally.
Plus, I think we’re both driven by a strong urge to not raise adults who are giant a-holes. And if we’re being honest, there are worse motivating factors, right?
Nonetheless, there are a few things about parenting that I’ve picked up on over the years that really stick out. Which include, but in no way are limited to, the following:
Repeating yourself is completely exhausting. Correct me if I’m wrong, parents, but half the battle – at least from ages 0-18? – is repeating yourself ad nauseam about what you just told that damn kid three minutes ago. “Don’t hit,” “Get your elbows off the table,” “No jumping on the bed,” “Don’t run with scissors” and other very obvious things that kids would know better if they were just paying attention the first million times you said it.
However, something impressive about parenting is that you just keep doing it. Like, if CB told me not to run with scissors, and then I ran with scissors and he told me not to again, yet this time, he explained why it’s logical not to run with scissors? I’d totally catch on.
But you know what a kid would do? Run with scissors five minutes later, fall, trip, and potentially stab a part of their body. Then, they’d come crying to the person who JUST WARNED THEM NOT TO DO THAT so that you can fix it and make it all better. I mean, it’s like kids are mini psychopaths just waiting to see how much you can take.
Wait, not something a person wanting to be a parent should say? Moving on.
You can never finish a sentence. Ok, so apparently this only happens between the ages of 0-8? 9? I’m not sure. But I do know that at some point your kids stop wanting to be anywhere near you, and it’s kind of amazing because then you can finish having that conversation about “The Mindy Project” you started seven years ago. But while they’re still growing and learning and depending on you for life in all ways, you definitely can’t ever finish a sentence.
Or you can, but it’s in the form of yelling at the other person you’re talking to so that you’re talking over the child who’s asking you a question you answered for them eleven seconds ago (see #1 above). And then it just makes the person you’re talking to feel bad and be like “Please don’t yell-talk at me and just let him know why he has to finish his sandwich before eating the chocolate bar. I’ll wait.”
Kids don’t listen EXCEPT FOR WHEN THEY DO. Guess what? You tell a kid not to play with scissors and he’ll be running with said scissors and a 10-inch blade in the other hand before the hour is up. But you accidentally say the f-word or call something or someone stupid under your breath while driving, and the kid will pick it up with his/her supersonic hearing before it’s even crossed the sound barrier.
You’re not allowed to laugh. Oh my God, this one is for sure the hardest. Because those mini psychopaths are FUNNY, you guys, especially when they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do. Which I’m pretty sure is why we have so many unhinged reality tv stars today - they were simply raised by parents who not only didn’t tell them not to run with scissors, but laughed and encouraged them while they did it.
Which is totally my fear! Because I find most things in life at least slightly amusing. And when those things are coming out of a three year old's mouth, it’s downright Second City-worthy. However, when you’re a parent, from what I can tell, you have to not only train yourself not to laugh at or with them when they’re being naughty, but you have to remind your friends not to totally blow your cover, too! It’s a lot of stress as a parent.
So there you have it. An incomplete list of why parenting is hard and makes me sleepy to watch. Do you agree? What have I missed? I told you it was an incomplete list and it’s because I’m extra tired from two days of kid-play!
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