Well THIS kid seems okay, at least. Seems to be happy, right? That, ladies and gentlemen, is your paycheck for parenting, and the odd thing is, you wouldn’t actually trade it for actual money.
Would you ever have guessed that in a zillion years? Not me, for sure. I’da said: “Nah, money might work for me.”
When you get handed a kid after you do the touchdown dance at the long, sweaty end of labor, your brain is buzzing with many things. You may, for instance, still be under the delusion that your future will be full of soft-focus, slow-motion perfection.
That your kid, for instance, might actually OBEY you when you ask that kid to do something, like: “Please pick your underwear up off the dining room floor,” or “Please don’t leave that pudding cup upside down on the coffee table,” or even: “Please get me the remote, since I’m bleeding from the ears and eyeballs right now, but Law & Order is on?”
(But I said PLEASE…)
The selective hearing my own parents yammered on about is stunningly true. You can literally speak directly into their eardrums, using the cardboard inside of a paper towel roll for amplification, and if you are saying something they don’t want to hear, or if they are watching “Drake and Josh,” or “iCarly,” they SIMPLY CANNOT HEAR YOU. They don’t even have to go “LA LA LA LA LA…” like men sometimes have to when you ask them to take out the garbage. (Or put a new bag in.)
Kids will also disappear. Look everywhere, you can’t find them. Yikes. Where have they gone?
Pick up the phone, to call the police? BOOM. There they are, so close to you that you start feeling that creepy invasion-of-personal-space feeling, because now YOU ARE ON THE PHONE. “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.”
It’s a sure-fire trick. Try it.
What else, what else?
OH: the questions. Prepare yourself as much as you wish. It matters not. I have a stack of very dusty parenting books; they’re all completely useless. None of the questions I’ve actually been asked are in them.
Here’s one from just this week alone:
My 11-year-old, surfing the Net (for homework, or, quite possibly, her Gothic Pixie blog) opposite me, in my office, on the other laptop: Mom?
Me: Yes, darling? (I really call them “darling.” I think it’s nice, and besides, once upon a time I met a sad old copy editor in my old newspaper who lamented he was never anyone’s “darling.” I decided then and there I would always call any kids I might have “darling.”)
Daughter: Mom, my teacher Mrs. W. has bees in her classroom. I hate bees. They come right in and scare me. What should I do?
Me: (completely stymied) Um….
Daughter: What should I do, Mom? I’m afraid to talk to her, I’ll sound like a total baby.
Me: Umm… I have to pee.
Me: (returning, taking the stylus from my own computer’s graphic tablet and holding it up) Ok. How about you take this to school, tell Ms. W that it’s an epipen, and that you’re allergic to bees? That way, you can leave the classroom without seeming like a dork? In fact, they’ll all feel sorry for you and do something about the bees at the same time.
Daughter: (shocked, just SHOCKED, putting me in mind of the major in Casablanca when he discovered there was gambling in Rick’s joint) MOM! I can’t LIE!
Me; (hovering between annoyed and heartwarmed that my daughter is so honest.) Um…
Daughter: You are NO help AT ALL.
I think back to that little bundle, the first day I got her handed to me.
Isn’t there some sort of qualifying test, I thought? A licensing exam? Are you REALLY leaving her with ME?
They really did. Okay… I thought.
The last argument I had with my daughter, she gave me this retort, to which I had no answer:
“That’s what you get, Mom, for raising independent thinkers.”