That’s an actual quote from my son, recorded for posterity somewhere around 2009, when he was three.
He was barricaded in his room, hiding from my wrath after he had done something I’ve long since forgotten.
It might’ve been when he stuck a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the VCR. Which we never used anyway.
My wrath. I’ve only spanked each of my kids once or twice, and I felt immediate regret each time. I messed up and did it out of frustration.
One was just a couple weeks ago, trying to get Anna in bed after a late and exhausting night, and she kicked me in the junk three times. Even with my crotch turning blue and pain tears rolling down my face, it was a mistake.
It’s not that I’m anti-spanking. I’m just anti- using physical violence and intimidation as a way to control behavior.
I don’t want my kids to conform to that when they’re adults, so I don’t expect them to now.
My wrath most often comes in the form of my outside voice, and my tendency to jump to punishments that usually only wind up punishing my wife.
“No electronics for a week” also means, “Your mother will keep you entertained one way or another 24/7!”
Can we talk amongst ourselves for a moment, parent to parent?
Good. Because I’m about to curse.
This shit is hard. I knew parenting was no cakewalk going in. But older folks always said things like, “You mess up but they still turn out okay,” and I’m not sure that’s true.
Are mine going to turn out okay? I hope so, but hope is as far as I can go.
And what’s “okay” anyway? Have you seen YouTube comments?
Those people can’t be okay.
Are their parents patting themselves on the back while Junior is in the basement posting the n-word as a response to every My Little Pony video?
Bad Dad. Dad is Bad!
I thought it would be fun to tell my son ghost stories, then turn off the lights in his room unexpectedly and make ghost noises. Now he won’t go to sleep unless his room is lit up like Times Square. If the power goes out, as it did recently, he screams like a banshee.
All I wanted was ghost stories!
Parents are good at reassuring each other. “You’re a good mom,” or “Don’t be so hard on yourself; you’re a good dad!” And I really think that of many of my friends – they really are great parents, and their kids are great kids.
My kids are great kids. They have their hideous moments, but they’re kids. I want them to lose their minds every once in a while.
They have the rest of their lives to be soulless corporate, direction-taking zombies.
That being said, their mother is amazing, and she’s given herself to them. She probably undoes the bad I do, for the most part.
I know I’m not a bad dad. I dote on the kids, spend as much time with them as they’ll tolerate, try to make sure they’re always fed, educated, entertained, heard and respected.
I live for the close moments, when Anna puts her head on my shoulder during storytime, or Nathan tells me that the best part of his summer was when he and I stayed up late, stared at the stars in the sky and talked about life and the expanding universe.
The question is if those moments count more than the mental messes we make.
Like the pressure I put on my kids to not be talking mutants who smell like old cheese.
Or that I’ve convinced them that the only reason bullies exist is because their parents don’t love them.
Or that my constant reminder to “Be careful now!” is what prevents Nathan from trying just about anything physically risky.
I guess we’ll find out.
In the meantime, I found a couple YouTube comments under my account, posted by my son.
No racial epithets, just thoughtful ponderings on mortality, morality, and existentialism in the scope of Five Nights at Freddies.
I’ll take it.