I am desperately trying to write, but I have a six-year-old who keeps saying, “Mom! Look at this!” and then doing something totally unremarkable and mundane, and I’m supposed to go, “Wow! That’s awesome!” but really, it’s not, and why, as parents are we supposed to validate every single thought and action our children make? Like, what if, in modern parenting, there were actually room made for the parents? I know it’s a radical idea. Like, what if, after playing trains for 10 or 15 minutes, a parent were allowed to say, “You know what? I’m done playing trains now. I’m going to do something else.” Or what if, and I know this is going to sound tantamount to child abuse, but what if, when our kids came in to our bedrooms first thing in the morning and started jumping on the bed, like they do in just about every commercial for “luxury sheets” (“luxury sheets”??!! Go fuck yourself), instead of instantly waking up with a playful smile, we said, “Please don’t jump on my bed!” I mean, just imagine that.
I am not known for my patience. I’m getting better. But anyone who knows me, knows that patience is not one of my strongest qualities. And I tend to expect way more of Monty than a child his age is capable of, so when he inevitably falls short of my unrealistic expectations, I get frustrated. It’s shitty and I’m not proud of it. On the other hand, some parents smoke crack and some, you know, abuse their children to death, so, on the scale of shitty parent behavior, getting frustrated is pretty low. But on the scale of parents in commercials for “luxury sheets” or plastic toys with grating voicing, I’m a monster. I’m sure that I’m psychologically scarring him in some irrevocable way.
You can take a quick gander through my Instagram feed and see that Monty is a pretty happy kid. You’d be hard pressed to find a happier one. But lately, he’s been turning on a dime and I feel like I’m living with a ticking time bomb. He jumped on my back without warning yesterday while I was bent over, and I almost bashed my head on the dresser. I had what I would describe as a normal reaction to being unexpectedly jumped on and nearly concussing myself; I raised my voice and told him to be careful, explaining what could have happened. By commercial parent standards I’m sure I looked like the wicked stepmother. What followed was about 20 minutes of Monty self-flagellating himself, saying he was stupid, and throwing shit around. It was maybe the sixth time in two days he had behaved like this and I was not having it. I said, “Nope. I’m not indulging this behavior. Pull yourself together.” I know, I KNOW, I’m supposed to sit down with him and calmly ask him what’s wrong and hold him til he calms down and blah fucking blah blah blah. I tried that. It doesn’t work. And even when it does work, 10 minutes later he’s back at it again for some small, inconsequential transgression (“Monty, for the 100th time, please don’t leave your legos in the middle of the walkway!” “I am the dumbest stupid head! I hate myself! I should go away forever!”) So, I’m now just telling him to get his shit together and stop saying horrible things about himself and I’ll be over here (drinking) when he’s ready to act like a rational human being.
Last night I actually tried to explain to him that I am not required by law to feed, clothe, or bath him (though I think technically I am), and that I’m CERTAINLY not required to spend $8000 to take him to see Aladdin at El Capitan and buy him fucking lollypops and toys he never ends up playing with, but that I do these things because I love him and want him to be happy and healthy, despite the fact that I get no alone time, and could REALLY use a day at the Beverly Hot Springs and a massage and a pedicure and a wax, and can’t remember the last time I got laid (I left that part out, but trust me, it was implied). He was like, “What’s a wax?” I think that explanation was what stunned him into silence. Later, while I was reading to him, he was like, “Mama, why do people put hot wax on them and rip their hair out?” and I was like, “Because of the patriarchy, honey. Now quiet down so I can finish reading you this adult graphic novel about two women who fell in love in 1963 and finally got to be together after 50 years.” (It’s a real book and it’s pretty good.)
Please don’t call CPS.