Growing up for me, like most peoples childhoods, was a weird experience. To be frank (and you can be mary!): I was a brat. A serious brat. An evil little shitheaded kid. But when you think about it, what kid isn’t?
There are a lot of rules, regulations, things we can’t touch or play with or even LOOK at without getting in trouble, and why? Because Mommy said so? Well who the fuck made her ruler of the universe? If I want to play with my god damn My Little Pony in the bathtub, I AM GOING TO PLAY WITH MY GOD DAMN MY LITTLE PONY IN THE BATHTUB!! WHY DO YOU HAVE TO TRY TO RUIN MY LIFE????
As children the ENTIRE world seems to be working against us when we want to climb on top of the dresser and jump onto the bed, because flying is fucking awesome and that’s the closest we’ll ever get, or when we don’t want to eat our vegetables because they are ‘yucky’ and can’t see ANY good reason why we should be forcing them down our throats; shouldn’t everything we eat be delicious and covered in chocolate?
We find ourselves saying, on more than one occasion: “When I have kids I will NEVER do the things to them my parents did to me!”
And our parents laugh and reply “I can’t wait until you have kids either” with an oh-so knowing look on their faces.
Years we spend screaming and cursing our parents for laying down the law, we stomp our feet and scream obscenities, even tell them we hate them- and then we grow the fuck up, have our own kids, and realize what DOUCHEBAGS we had been all along.
All the things we swore we wouldn’t do, the things we swore we wouldn’t say? All seem completely ridiculous.
Oh i’ll let my kid eat candy all day and i’ll NEVER make them eat their veggies! I won’t give them curfews, i’ll let them come and go as they please because they’ll be good! I won’t give them a bed time or tell them that 27 hours of Spongebob in a row is NOT going to happen!
If only 27 year old me could tell 11 year old me what an idiot I was.
I now understand why my parents told me to be a part of the “clean plate club”- it wasn’t really because children are starving in Africa, even though that is a good reason not to put more on your plate than you can eat, but because food is EXPENSIVE and when kids don’t eat it, it pisses parents off! Kids are picky little shits, and without enforcement, will attempt to fast. Never did I think I would hear “If you don’t like it, LUMP it” coming out of my mouth- but it does, and often. I used to get mad, I used to HATE that saying, I used to throw tantrums each and every time I heard it- and now it is a regular in my ‘things to say to my kids’ rotation- because fuck if i’m going to be a short order cook because one second you said you wanted chicken and rice and 4 later it is the most vile thing on earth and you would not deign to eat it.
With each day that passes, I find myself thinking more and more often: “Holy shit, I sound just like my MOM!” and while before I thought that was a bad thing, I am now beginning to see the light. It is in fact quite the opposite.
All those hours spent fighting over my parents when they told me not to stand 2 inches away from the TV screen or i’d go blind- calling them liars and insisting that it was absolutely necessary for my mental well-being not to move away- I now get. If you don’t lie to your kids, they DO NOT LISTEN. And if you don’t tell them to get the hell away from the TV they will rot their little brains and melt their eyeballs.
Why can’t we take every single toy we own into the bathtub? Well that one is SIMPLE- it would ruin them! And you can bet your tiny ass that I won’t be running out to the store to buy you another of the same exact toy because you gave the first one a death by drowning in the tub.
The strict bed times, the insisting of brushing your teeth (and thoroughly at that), cleaning up after yourself, the no back-sass rule… it ALL MAKES SENSE NOW! All of it is so very clear in my head.
Despite the flaws and mistakes, my parents weren’t trying to punish me… for the most part.. They were just trying to make sure I didn’t kill myself or cause permanent brain damage. I now appreciate all the things I once hated, because without it- i’d probably be sitting in a corner somewhere, drooling all over myself and muttering about lima beans.
Isn’t that what we all want for our kids? No, not the drooling part, but to keep them safe. Duh.
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