Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Never let them see you parent

Parenting. There are no hard and fast rules about how you do it except to avoid abuse of any sort. No two parents are exactly the same and what you say to your child, someone else may quite possibly think is outrageous or over the top. Whether you have children or not, you've likely looked at a child and thought, "What the hell sort of parents raises THAT kind of child?" Maybe me?

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That being said, I fall on the outrageous side of parenting. I pick on my kids. I tease them. I tell them inappropriate jokes. I taught not biting by biting. We yell, cry, and sometimes stomp or slam doors. We also have fun. We are the most awesome road trip family EVER. There is singing, embarrassing other drivers, more inappropriate jokes, and we're damn good at it.

I can tell you all of these things and it is up to you to believe me or not. We don't have a reality show where cameras follow us around all day and night so you can see our quirky, yet humorous, dialog. You won't hear the "I love you" moments. I can't prove to most of you that I even have kids. Unfortunately, just when you think you're doing a pretty good job at it, someone will witness your skills. It will not always look as awesome as you think. The key to maintaining the impression that you're just naturally good at your job is this: Never Let Them See You Parent.

Case in point:

My son is in concert choir. In December I purchased new dress pants, dress shirt, dress shoes, socks, and undershirts. I carefully packaged all of it up and mailed it 3 hours south to his father's house. When my son moved back home in January he returned primarily with clothes and a few electronics. We've been doing swimmingly since.

Jacob informed me of the upcoming concert choir contest last week. We verified the things he would need, location of the contest, permission slips to be signed, etc.

"Do you have your dress clothes out and pressed?" I asked. "What about dress shoes?"

"I only need the dress pants. We wear robes so I don't need a dress shirt. I have the shoes you bought me in December. They're good." he responded.

It was settled. He would be ready to go and for a change my last minute nagging seemed unfounded. As I spoke with a friend on Skype before turning in for the evening, our conversation was interrupted by the sound of a knock on the stairwell wall. "Do you have my shoes up there?" said a deep man-child voice.

Honestly, when you're having a conversation with someone you are used to talking with, Skype is merely an extension of communication. It is not a theater performance and I tend to forget that the other person can hear every thing I say and see every face I make. This was one of those moments.

I carried on a conversation with my son as if he and I were the only ones in the room. I believe it went something like:

Bitchy Mom Face

Me- Why would I have your shoes in my closet?
Him- They are nice shoes. I thought you might have taken them.
Me- Why would I take your shoes? I do not have them.
Him- I called Dad's and they aren't there. I can't find them.
Me- You have contest tomorrow and you just now looked for the shoes? You said you had them.
Him- I thought I did. I just can't find them.

At this point I looked back at my screen to find that I was being watched with a look of amazement/horror. "What?" I asked. It was then that I noticed I still had "the look" on my face. Bitchy Mom Face. "He said he had the shoes. Now he doesn't have the shoes. Contest is tomorrow and he just NOW looks for the shoes?" I explained. This seemed to do little to justify what apparently came off as a bit of a harsh conversation.

Things only got worse when I told my son he would have to wear my Doc Martens and squeeze his big feet into them with no bitching or moaning. WHAT?! They look like guy shoes anyway!

Update: My son was able to call a friend (Thanks Jake M.) to loan him some men's dress shoes for contest as well as provide him with a ride to school. Obviously the threat of having to wear girl shoes was enough to put him off asking me for a damned thing today. #ParentingWin

What is the most embarrassing thing you've done as a parent? Has anyone (other than your poor kids) witnessed your cruel and unusual parenting skills? 

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