A few months ago The Good One had a friend over for the day. (Yes, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I’ve been busy. And I have a problem with procrastination.) His friend was dropped off at about 10:00 a.m. and was being picked up at 5:00. By about 3:00 The Good One and his friend had played outside, played Xbox, Legos, board games and pretty much everything but Barbies because I don’t own Barbies.
Aside: The Beast loves Barbies. I’ll have to write up the post about the belief I have that he’s going to be a man-slut one day, but that will have to wait for – well, for months due to the aforementioned procrastination problem.
So at 3:00, I was sitting comfortably at my computer, most likely Pinteresting summer crafts that no normally abled human being could actually complete successfully, when The Good One and his friend approached me.
Me: What’s up, boys?
The Good One: Well, we wanted to have a Nerf war but we want more people, so Friend was wondering if you could come outside and play with us?
Me: What the bloody hell are you asking me, child? Does it look like I want to come outside and play with you? I’m in the middle of Pinteresting this awesome bead craft that you and your brother are going to love, and here you are asking me to play. The only reason I permit you to have friends over is so that I don’t have to play with you. And, Good One, if I ever find out that you asked one of your friend’s moms to play with you, I will smack your teeth out of your head.
Okay, that last part is a lie. What I really said was that I couldn’t come outside and play because The Beast was sleeping and that they would have to have a Nerf battle by themselves.
What is this world coming to when we have to play with our kids when they have friends over? Is this the new norm?
One of my sisters and I recently discussed this whole “playing with our children” epidemic.
Sister: My kids are killing me.
Me: I know, if school doesn’t start soon, I’m probably going to stop loving them. They can’t be together for more than five minutes without fighting.
Sister: I know. Mine fight all the time. It makes me want to drink all day long.
Me: Yeah, I consider it a good day if I didn’t have to put Schnapps in my coffee.
Sister: What drives me nuts is that I have these Facebook friends and they’re all like, “I love my kids so much, they’re so sweet and perfect and I just love to play with them all day long.” My daughter wants me to play Barbies all day and it makes me nuts.
Me: I know. I have those Facebook friends, too. I hate them. They’re always like, “I love every waking minute with my beautiful child who is a gift from God.” Really? Every waking minute? Aren’t you exaggerating just a little bit? I mean, I totally get the gift from God thing and I do appreciate my children, but there’s not a day that goes by that at one point or another I’m not putting my head in my hands and begging for the strength not to rip out my children’s vocal chords. I honestly don’t know how Mom didn’t cook one of us in the microwave.
As children, my sisters and I never asked our mom to play with us. We entertained ourselves and didn’t expect our parents to keep us busy. Yes, we would play outside with our parents and they’d take us to the park, but under no circumstances did we ever ask our mother to play Atari or school or dolls. We played and she went about the business of keeping the house from looking like five children lived in it.
Now it seems like we’re expected to spend every waking minute playing with our kids, making memories and soaking in their childhoods, and if we don’t enjoy this then we’re somehow not being the parent that society thinks we should be.
I get so sick of reading about how when we’re with our kids, we need to be fully focused on them and fully present to make sure that they grow up feeling loved and valued. I think this is what the term “intentional parenting” refers to, and I would like to request that whoever came up with that term bend over so I can intentionally shoot a giant Nerf dart up his derrière.
There are moments when I truly enjoy my children and those moments are incredibly special, and I’m not saying that I ignore my children or play on my iPhone every time I’m in their presence, but there are some days that my physical presence is all I can offer them. I might not be painting and playing cars or video games with them, but, by golly, I haven’t run away and that should count for something.
And if my children grow up to be serial-killing sociopaths, I highly doubt it’ll be because I told them to go outside and play by themselves. It’ll probably be because I let them watch violent T.V. shows so I could cook dinner.
So, as far as my Facebook friends go, I figure one of a few things is occurring.
1. These Facebook friends are lying because they want to present the image of being perfect, super-awesome parents who love every minute of their lives and are capable of spending the whole day soaking up all of their children’s awesomeness and still provide clean underwear and a gourmet meal. (This is the one I want to be true because otherwise my life truly does suck and I need to be medicated to continue on with this existence that is marked by incessant temper-tantrums, anger, fighting, laundry and trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.)
2. These Facebook friends are too high on meds to realize that playing Barbies and Hot Wheels is fun for about three minutes and then it just plain sucks. How many times can one human being say “vroom, vroom” before it gets monotonous? And how many times can you have the same Barbie conversation before you feel the urge to rip Barbie’s head off of her ridiculously busty torso?
3. These Facebook friends really do love to play all day and I just suck. (This is my least favorite option. I mean, I do play with my kids, but it certainly isn’t all day and I almost never enjoy it.)
I choose to believe that it’s option number 1, because for the past five minutes as I’ve been typing this blog post I’ve yelled at my kids nearly nonstop. For your reading pleasure, here are some of the phrases I’ve used. You have to read them as a shrill she-demon to get a real appreciation for what I sound like.
“Why the frack are you two fighting!?” (Yes, I’ve managed to not use the real “F” word around my children. This is an accomplishment worthy of an award, so feel free to send me one because I feel pretty awesome about it.)
“What is your problem!?”
“If you do not share those goldfish with The Good One I’m taking them off of you!”
“No, you do not get your own. You will share or I’m going to put you in timeout!”
“Quit throwing things at your brother!”
“If you do not quit screaming I’m going to put you in timeout all flipping day!”
“Get off of the floor, quit screaming and go upstairs!”
“What the hell is that noise!?”
“So help me God, if you two don’t stop fighting I’m going to beat you both with a light saber!”
Right now The Beast is in timeout for assaulting The Good One because The Good One had the nerve to attempt to help The Beast clean up his toys. The Beast is actually screaming at me, “I want to clean up by myself! I want to do it! I want to clean up by myself!”
The child is throwing a temper tantrum because he doesn’t want The Good One to help him clean up his toys.
What kind of Twilight Zone do I live in?
Surely my Facebook friends have moments like this that they don’t love. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective and these friends just choose to focus on the positive aspects of their lives. Maybe their intent isn’t to make me feel like crap.
But every once in a while it would be nice if they posted something about threatening to beat their children with light sabers.