My Children: Which One Might Become a Serial Killer?

jail-983153_1280You try not to think it, you really do, but in today’s culture it’s difficult.  I mean the parent-blaming is everywhere.  So when serial killers and even regular murderers show up on the news or on “Criminal Minds” or wherever, you start thinking.  For the love of God and all that is holy, could this one day be my kid?

The trick is in figuring out which one it might be, so that you can make the appropriate adjustments.  Like if it’s child #3 versus #1 or #2, you might want to become stricter with that child.  Or maybe more lenient.  You may need to give that child more individual attention, or perhaps you’ve been giving that child too much attention all along.  You may realize you should switch to a helicopter parenting technique, or no, wait, maybe the kid actually needs more responsibility. Free-range it is.  Maybe you should yell less and show more empathy.  Wait, the newspaper says you should quit being such a pushover.

Oh, Good Lord.  What is a parent to do?

I don’t know, but I’m guessing the first good step is to figure out which one is the serial killer.  With that in mind I have been observing my own kids from day one, looking for the signs.  This post is the very scientific summary of my conclusions to date.

On the surface, Joey, age 8, might be the obvious suspect.  Back in his infancy, the instant he got control of his arms, he used them to push my face away from him in a way that said, “I do not enjoy affectionate human contact.”  That was mildly alarming, but my mother has since told me I was a similar type of baby and I have yet to murder anyone, even my husband, who pretty much asks for it on at least a bi-weekly basis.

And then there is Jimmy, age 7, who was a very smiley and loving baby, but even then you kind of had to wonder.  At least Joey shows his true colors, I thought at the time.  What’s with this smiley lovey crap?  Who exactly is he trying to fool?

Could all that smiling be leading here???
Could all that smiling be leading here???

Interestingly enough, as they’ve grown, Jimmy has continued his smiley lovey persona, while Joey is a bit more on the mean side.  I was catching baseball with them the other day and Joey was taking an inordinate amount of pleasure in any missed catch on the part of his brother.  “You dropped it again!” he’d say.  “That’s six times!  I’ve only missed twice!”  As for Jimmy, his comments back to Joey were along the lines of, “Good catch!”  Or, “Nice throw, Joey!”

Hmmm, I thought.  Are these the signs?  Will Joey’s competitive and not-so-supportive nature one day resolve into a murderous rampage?  Or, will Jimmy’s more outwardly pleasant personality eventually implode?  Oh God, how do I fix this?  What do I do differently?  HOW DO I MAKE THEM PERFECT?

So far, I’ve spoken about my children as if Joey shows zero love and Jimmy shows nothing but.  Obviously it is never that simple.  For example, I once had several facial moles removed and thus came home with several sets of stitches in my face as well as some surprisingly unattractive swelling.  It was Joey who had the preferred reaction.  He took one look at me, broke down in tears and said, “Mommy!  How could they do that to you?”  Jimmy, on the other hand, appraised my disfigurement with a more detached and clinical eye.  His question was more along the lines of, “How long are you going to look like that?”  He has also said things such as, “Mommy, you’re not fat.  You’re just, like, maximum chubby.”  If that doesn’t say future murderer, quite frankly I don’t know what does.

Perhaps I should encourage a nice non-violent life of computer crime.
Perhaps I should encourage a nice non-violent life of cyber crime.

I don’t know.  It’s very stressful even writing about this, because the truth is, I don’t ever want to find myself in the position of saying, “Yep, I knew it.”  And then writing letters to judges explaining about my kids’ favorite snacks and so forth.  I mean, what judge is going to care that Joey eats his Chips Ahoy and milk with a spoon, while Jimmy never, ever dips his cookies?  Well, there’s one, but surely he’ll be impleached by then. Disbarred. Whatever they call it.  Plus, my letter would go viral and then the people who weren’t already blaming me would see clearly how it was ALL MY FAULT.

I guess the bottom line is, ferretting out a serial killer from the crowd of elementary school crooks is more challenging than it may seem.  All I can do is to remain forever vigilant.  And more importantly, keep up with all the internet parenting advice. Because there’s no sense trusting my own instincts when there are so many wiser ones out there.



Your Great Kid Is An Asshole Sometimes, Just Like Mine

angel-427478_1280A friend recently showed me a bumper sticker that said, “Proud Parent of a Great Kid Who Is Sometimes an Asshole and That’s Okay.”

Needless to say I loved this, and when I got home, I looked it up online. Not that I would buy it. My kids are not the type to be amused by my calling them assholes on bumper stickers. Really I don’t even know why I looked it up, but I did, and found many other “Proud Parent” bumper stickers in the process. Some examples:

Proud Parent of a Kind Child
Proud Parent of a Homeschool Honor Student
Proud Parent of Wonderful Children
Proud Parent of a Highly Gifted Kid
Proud Parent of a Child With Good Values
Proud Parent of My Star Student
Proud Parent of Generous Children

So, yeah.

I mean . . . I don’t know. I am sure all of the parents sporting these bumper stickers do actually have smart and kind and generous children with good values, or whatever. But I suspect these are the very parents that sometimes look at me sideways in Target when one of my kids throws a beanbag chair at the other one. Even some of you reading this might be thinking, my God, can’t you control them? Is there no discipline in your household at all? I bet your kids just walk all over you. I bet you never tell them no, you act like a friend instead of a parent, you have not taught them how to behave in public/show respect for Target merchandise/not be little assholes.

And on that last one, you would be right. Sort of.

I found this via an image search for 'Angel.' Awwww.
I found this via an image search for ‘Angel.’ Awwww.

It’s not that I don’t try. Some days it feels like every other thing out of my mouth is geared toward encouraging my kids to not be assholes. Other times, whole days go by and I realize that no one was an asshole at all. One of my little assholes recently hugged a total stranger at a nursing home, and I know he absolutely did not want to do it, but she was a sweet little old lady and she asked very nicely and I guess he felt like it was the right thing to do. That other time, throwing the beanbag chair was apparently the right thing to do. Because the fact is, sometimes my kids are assholes, and so are yours.

Here is the thing: everyone is an asshole sometimes. EVERYONE. And if one person doesn’t think you’re an asshole at any given moment, you can always find another one who does. This is just normal and nothing to panic about. I bet even Ghandi was an asshole sometimes. And Abraham Lincoln. Even probably Chris Pratt, who seems to be one of the most likable humans alive. It’s a simple equation: human = occasional asshole, and the same holds true for kids.

Image search result for 'Kindness." And thus it becomes clear that much of the world is beyond my comprehension.
Image search result for ‘Kindness.” And thus it becomes clear that much of the world is beyond my comprehension.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, I am tired of driving behind cars that contain Kind Kids With Good Values while mine are in the backseat giving each other the finger. I’m tired of worrying that when my child does something wrong, it’s because I have done everything wrong. I think, at this point, I’ve seen one too many blog posts and parenting magazines and, worst of all, other parents, telling me that You Are Doing It Wrong But This Is What You Should Do To Fix It. Most of all I’m tired of me judging myself, based on the judgements that I assume others are passing even when they’re not.

Oh, who am I kidding. I don’t worry too much about any of that stuff. But I do really wish I could get that bumper sticker, because my kids really are assholes sometimes. Just the same as yours.