Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a 3:30 Playdate - Is it too early to start drinking?

I never really wanted to be a dad.

There, I wrote it. It looks strange on the page. Kind of like writing something pornographic - it's honest, brutal and meant for your eyes only. It's not that I don't like kids - I like kids. I certainly liked other people's kids - I thought they were like little kittens or puppies - you played with them, fed them and handed them back to their owners when you got bored and went back to your cocktail.

It's weird, but most of my experiences with other people's children involved a round of martinis first. I never got what these parents were complaining about - I mean their kids seemed perfectly nice to me. Little Luca, Jack or Felix never got on my nerves after two stiff ones. Hell, I could play SHOOTS AND LADDERS for weeks properly hammered. As a matter of fact - I was a far better player drunk than not drunk. I would get super competitive and not let any of the little kids win. Letting little kids win is Bullshit - if you're going to play SHOOTS AND LADDERS with me PLAY-TO-WIN or don't play at all! I can't tell you how many times my son Ethan would go to pieces after I kicked his ass at SHOOTS AND LADDERS or CANDYLAND. No one would ever accuse me of being a 'graceful winner.' I would take my victory lap around his room and enact my YOU SUCK victory dance. He didn't see the humor in it - he would charge out of the room, tears streaming down his face uttering some nonsense about me cheating. Now, I can assure you that I NEVER cheated. Sure, I may have kept a PRINCESS FROSTINE card under the table now and then - I may have even moved COOKIE MONSTER ahead a color or two - but this was in the interest of moving the game along.

How many times have you been in a SHOOTS AND LADDERS vortex where you and your little one keep getting sent back to that same 2nd row - the game NEVER ending? Even the most patient parent in the would open a vein. It's hateful. Anyway - I digress.

So, like I said, I never wanted kids. How did I arrive here? How did I wind up with this alien child whose moods, desires and interests shift on a minute-by-minute basis? One second he's loving, devoted and polite - the next he's spiteful, mean, and manipulative? My husband George likes to churn out 'useful' parenting chestnuts such as 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - you have to model the behavior you want Ethan to emulate. He lacks the ability to decipher your sarcasm and bitterness. You need to speak from your heart and use 'I' statements such as I FEEL SAD, I FEEL FRUSTRATED, I FEEL ANGRY. Therein lies your salvation.'

Yes - George actually talks like that. Enchanting isn't it? I can't tall you how many times I've wanted to shove a Popsicle in his mouth during one of our many parenting arguments. Is George right - of course he is! Who cares? You try telling a hungry six year old already engaged in an 'You're-absolutely-not-getting-a-Frappacino' meltdown that you're feeling 'frustrated' by his behavior. I'm sorry, but that shit just doesn't work.

When we're bored, my son Ethan and I play a little game called 'Let's talk about our feelings.' It usually involves me imitating George and using lots of 'I' statements. Ethan usually puts his hands to his ears, cackles and then makes his own 'I' statements such as 'I'm feeling like I need to run away from home,' or 'I'm wishing you would stop pretending you have feelings.' I find this hilarious. It's our own secret language- a conspiracy of sarcasm and bitterness. Don't tell me he can't make the distinction between the two - I'm teaching him well!

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