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.

To My Children, When They Are Bored

Hello, children! Mommy here. I know, obvs, right? Or don’t we say obvs anymore? I never know what’s up with the current lingo. I do know, because you just told me, that you are bored. Out of your mind.

And you know, that totally reminds me of when I was a kid. I hated to be bored. Of course, times were different back then. Do you want to hear about it?

No?

Oh, come on – just listen. Just for a minute. You have nothing else to do, right?

I’m not going to tell you about the walk to school uphill both ways in three feet of snow, because my God, it wasn’t that long ago. We had school buses and if it snowed, we had a snow day, just like you. You know what we did on those snow days? Let me tell you. One thing we did was sit around and listen to the radio, hoping and praying to hear our favorite song so we could tape it. On a cassette. Unlike you, we couldn’t hear any song we wanted to, at any time, day or night. No, we had to press PLAY and RECORD at the exact same moment, and we never caught the whole song because we were invariably a few seconds late. And the DJ would always start talking before the song ended, so every time you played “Like a Virgin,” you also heard some guy named Turbo saying “. . . and that’s Madonna, coming in at number seven. . . ” And so on.

The clear ones were fancy.
The clear ones were fancy.

That was fun. You know what else was fun? Watching the movie Alien before I had my 12-year molars. You’re not familiar with Alien? That’s good, because you shouldn’t be. I shouldn’t have been either, but a) my parents were apparently idiots, and b) there was only so much to watch on TV, back then. Certainly there wasn’t any 24/7 children’s programming. No Kid’s Choice Awards. Never mind the awards – there was no kid’s choice at all. You watched Alien and if that meant you couldn’t sleep for several months afterward for fear that a small octopus might explode out of your guts and suction on to your face, well, that was your problem.

Sort of like this. But ON YOUR FACE.
Sort of like this. But ON YOUR FACE.

Speaking of scary. I’ll tell you about scary. Scary is answering a ringing telephone when you have no idea who is on the other end of the line. I promise you, you know nothing about fear until you have accidentally found yourself exchanging pleasantries with a drunk or otherwise volatile older relative for upwards of a minute. But that’s how it was, in those days; the phone rang and you picked it up. Period. Oh, and guess how many phones there were in the house? One! It was attached to the wall in the kitchen and if you wanted to talk on it you had to stay there. In the kitchen. In front of everybody.

Could you Google on that phone? Dude – are you kidding me right now? YOU COULDN’T GOOGLE ANYTHING AT ALL, EVER. There was no Google! There were only big, heavy hardcover books called encyclopedias, and if you wanted to know about polar bears, you had to first figure out if that subject would be in the “P” book or the “B” book. What I am saying is that basically, you couldn’t find out shit back then. If I were you, I would Google things all day long. Just because I could.

Google, 1981
Google, 1981

But, whatever. You’re bored and so nothing pleases you; no suggestion will be good enough. I get it. It’s tough. You know what I did for fun sometimes? I went outside and left my mother alone to smoke and drink coffee like a normal grown-up. I went outside because on the hottest days of summer, it was probably cooler out there than it was in the house. You don’t think we had air conditioning, do you? Wrong again, kid. No one had air conditioning, or if they did, we weren’t friends with them. We had a goddamned box fan on the floor and sure, it was fun to make your voice go all vibrato by talking real close to it, but that got old after 30 seconds tops. Especially once your mother heard you and came and smacked you in the back of the head with a paint stirrer. Those paint stirrers were way better quality than these crap balsa sticks they make today. They were thick and heavy-duty plastic with holes at intervals, which I guess were for better aerodynamics.

Wow! That really DOES cool it down in here!
Wow! That really DOES cool it down in here!

So, yeah. Outside, I’d invent some game to play by myself for a while, often involving pine needles and rocks. When I got bored of that I might walk to a friend’s house, going the long way around the block to avoid the two neighborhood thugs who always threatened to beat me up. They were boys, incidentally. I was a girl. They were allowed to threaten me because no one cared about bullying back then. “Fight your own battles,” my mother used to tell me, and so that’s what I did. Usually by crying and running as fast as I could while they laughed. They didn’t even bother to chase me. If they had chased me, I am pretty certain I’d have peed my pants or worse. I am telling you, they were dangerous times. But I survived, as you can –

Hey! Where are you going? What do you mean, you can’t sit here and listen to me? Suddenly you have other stuff to do? What could be more important than life lessons from your –

Oh, fine. Go do what you need to do. I’ll just sit here and reminisce all on my own.

No, it’s fine. Really.

Sucker.