A few months ago a friend posted a question on Facebook about what to do to comfort her teething infant. Because I am a proponent of throwing drugs at any problem*, I suggested that if the baby seemed to be in pain, a little Motrin might help. The next commenter had a more homeopathic recommendation. I can’t remember what it was, but I do remember she ended her post noting that her recommendation was “not toxic.” Maybe she was referring to me and my Motrin, or maybe it was just a general fact she was stating, but it sort of underlined Facebook’s grand thesis:
We’re doing it wrong.
All of us. Doing everything. Wrong.
We’re doing it wrong when we eat donuts and Mountain Dew, and we’re doing it wrong when we eat organic sprout bowls made by joyless Mennonite farmers in rural Pennsylvania.
We’re doing it wrong when we say what we honestly think, and we’re doing it wrong when we don’t.
And when it comes to parenting, we are so doing it so wrong.
Feeding your baby formula? You may as well feed her a bottle of Miller High Life. Letting your baby cry it out? Don’t be surprised when he murders you in your sleep years from now.
I’m exaggerating of course, but the judgment is out there, and it’s real. And we all do it to a certain extent, whether it’s kept to ourselves or strewn about the internet. Back before I became a parent, I had my opinions about all the things the parents around me were doing. When they explained an epic tantrum as their child “just needing a nap,” I would nod my head but secretly suspect that maybe the kid was just a turd. And my punishment for this silent judgment has been the delivery of three wonderful little turds who frequently scream at me because they need a nap.
There are always articles bobbing to the surface of our newsfeeds about what parents need to stop saying to non-parents and what non-parents need to stop saying to parents. Since I’m a parent these days, I’m forced into the second camp, but I totally get what the first camp is saying. Here are my thoughts on some common complaints, as told to me by the people of Facebook.
Stop saying your kids’ age in months instead of years.
Thanks for that. I used to think this was weird myself, but now I totally get it. Personally speaking, I count my kids’ ages in months because I feel I have earned each of those months with blood, sweat and tears. If I tell you my boys are a year old then I’m not taking credit for the additional months of wiping, changing, chasing, tickling, cleaning, rocking, cuddling, scolding, teaching, kissing, reading, cooking, worrying, and all the other daily “ings.” So instead, I say my kids are almost 20 months old and hold back the urge to tell you their age in hours, which is how I really count time.
Your kids are not nearly as cute as you think they are.
You are 100% correct. Last year, at the request of Matt’s agent, we took our kids on a casting call. I couldn’t wait to wow everyone with my glorious progeny, but once we got into the waiting room I instantly saw the difference between “universally cute” and “cute to me.” There were total babes in there, whose beauty only shone brighter when compared to our three average white dudes.
As parents, you are biologically programmed to think your children are irresistible so you won’t leave them in the woods when the going gets tough. Even when you can see that their nose is a little big or their ears resemble misshapen pancakes, those imperfections endear them to you even more. I know that my kids look like two drugged elves and a sad, Irish boxer from the 1920s. But to me, they are perfect and if I don’t Instagram the hell out of them, then who will?
You shouldn’t take your kids out to eat if they’re going to ruin everyone else’s meal.
I totally hear you. Here are my choices: Roll the dice on a family meal in a restaurant, or roll the dice on a murder/suicide back at the house. Once you become a parent, you spend a great majority of your time at home, cooped up with small, irrational tyrants. The cabin fever can be intense. As much as I care what other people think, as much as I dread their ill opinion, and as much as I know that my children will behave like punks, I have to air them out every once in a while. For our own survival. So yes, my son just removed a glob of wet bread from his mouth and threw it at your table. My other son just dumped my husband’s beer on his lap. And my third son is piling broccoli florets on top of his head while shouting, “Let it go” in a monotone over and over. But here’s the bright side. You can leave this shit show anytime you want, and resume your incredibly pleasant life, filled with beautiful concepts like “happy hour” and “sleeping in.” And meanwhile, the only thing we get to leave is a big, guilty tip for our server.
You talk about your kids too much.
Yes, for good reason. See, when people have been held hostage for a long period of time, they tend to talk about their captors a lot—what they look like, what they talk like, different behavioral characteristics, strange habits, etc. They wake up in a cold sweat, wondering where their captors are, if they’ll come back. If there is more misery in store.
Ha ha. Just kidding. That’s one of those “kids suck” jokes that we parents like to tell.
The truth is, kids are endlessly interesting. I mean it. And when you have one, you get to experience everything all over again through them, and it’s fun. People talk about the things that are interesting and fun to them, the things that take up most of their time, their greatest ambitions, their biggest fears. People talk about their mistakes, their hopes—their last achievement and their next challenge. That’s the story of having kids. There’s a lot to talk about. And I’ll probably keep boring everyone with my thoughts on this until one of my sons murders me in my sleep, which incidentally is also one of my biggest fears.**
Cause, you know, I fed them formula.