I used to be a good parent. Did I say “good”? No, that’s not what I meant at all. Not “good” by any stretch of the imagination. I think what I meant was “not terrible.” Which is about as much as one can hope for when you have your first kid (we’ll call him Kid Uno for simplicity’s sake). With your first kid, you’re overprotective, neurotic, and almost invariably, massively annoying to everyone else around you. I know this know because of all the other first-time parents around me. With your first kid, you act like you’re the first person in the universe to have a kid – everything is fascinating, pioneering, like no one in the world has ever experienced what you’re experiencing. But in reality, you’re irritating the shit out of everyone around you with your fucking kid.
I’d like to believe that I wasn’t like that with my first kid. But I can’t tell ‘cause I can’t properly remember what I was like with Kid Uno. I do remember that when my second kid (and we’ll call him Kid Dos, because why not) came around, I was a shit ton more chilled out about everything kid-related. “Chilled out” perhaps has positive connotations – relaxed, not overly excited, somewhat in control, etc. Except that’s not entirely what I meant.
In this case, chilled out meant giving zero fucks; my parenting nose-dived into a tragic spiral from Kid Dos on. It is astounding how little I give a shit anymore.
When my kids were much littler – young enough when at least one of them was still shitting his pants – I took so much care over what I fed them. Something like breakfast – the most important meal of the day! – was a meticulously calculated affair. I’d spread just the right amount of jam – not too much, not too little, and fuck you, no high fructose corn syrup, you animal – on their toast. Whole grain toast! None of this shitty white bread bollocks. I mean, how’re you gonna know if something’s good for you if it doesn’t have two full cups of sawdust in it, right? I’d carefully cut up, skin, and core an apple because shit, these guys needed their wholesome nutrition directly from a fruit. Full cups of milk. Whole milk for full milk power. That sort of thing.
This morning, I lazily filled their bowls with some peanut butter cereal, and promptly forgot the milk. I’m not even sure if they ate it, that’s how little of a shit I give these days.
Keeping the kids occupied? Whatever the fuck it takes. Things like TV and movies aren’t a luxury – they’re basic necessities, essential tools when used strategically will do wonders by keeping your kids distracted enough so that you can get other shit done.
In this case, I’m not even shielding Kid Dos from age-inappropriate content anymore. Whatever works for Kid Uno works for Kid Dos now. Kid Dos is watching shit that Kid Uno never go to watch at his age. Questionable language all over the place, and I have the nerve to get mad when they use the word “heck.” (Yes, yes, the irony is not lost on me, given the tenor of this blog, assholes.)
“Hey, you guys wanna go watch tons of explosions, gratuitous violence, a skin-to-win Gwyneth Paltrow, and two dozen Iron Men? AWESOME!!!”
I don’t get to help out with the kids’ homework very much. They don’t get a ton of homework, but they often tackle it when they come home from school, while I’m still at work. That said, the missus probably does a fair job “refereeing” the exercise… I think. I have no fucking idea.
I used to try and sit with them to help them with some of the homework if I wasn’t in the office. But these days, it does seem that more and more of their homework is done online. While I should probably more concerned about their online access, I somehow saw this as an excuse to fuck off even more. I mean, how many pairs of hands can be on the keyboard at the same time, right?
“You’ve got to do your homework on the computer? Well, go right ahead!” I have no idea what type of homework a 6 year-old needs to do online, but I’m far too willing to let him loose on it. I suppose if I was a more responsible parent, I might sit with him to make sure he’s not accidently running into questionable material (like everything his father writes online). But I’m not, so I don’t. I am a shit parent.
It’d be one thing if my deplorably parenting habits were just passive actions like simply not bothering. But I’ve now found myself going out of my way to be irresponsible.
A couple of Sundays ago, I woke up and decided that Kid Dos should have a drum kit after months of talking about it. Kid Uno plays the cello, and Kid Dos had nothing, so I got it in my head that I needed to rectify this immediately. Truth is, I was at a concert the night before, and the band had a kick-ass girl drummer – and girl drummers are the fucking best. There was also a veiled sliver of me that thought that this was also my chance to learn to play the drums. Don’t act so surprised, I’m not the first asshole to use my kid to get something I wanted.
Things happened rapidly. I found two listings for drum kits on Craigslist. After a few email exchanges, and conferring with my drummer friend, I bolted down to Brooklyn, and by 3pm, I came home with a shiny blue drum kit for Kid Dos.
He couldn’t be more excited to give it a good and proper thrashing after I put the whole kit together. And I do mean thrashing. I play guitars loudly and full of distortion, so I understand the beauty of noise. But drum kit in the house in the eager hands of a 6 year-old? Holy fucking shit, this I was not even remotely prepared for. The kid can hold an impressive beat, but holy shit he’s loud. Loud enough to make my aging ears ring. Loud enough for me wonder if I’ve made a terrible decision here by giving him something that might damage his hearing. Drums, what a great idea.
I guess one upside is I’d be too deaf to hear anything when I get yelled at for being such a shitty parent.