As someone who spent the majority of my childhood swearing my parents were wrong about … well…. everything, it’s never fun to have to admit when they were right.
Parenthood swung open that stupid door–paving the way for the content of my next book– but as I sit and listened to my kid SCREAM at the top of the stairs, I came to realize that there was one I missed. One I’ve never uttered until that very moment. One that makes me die a little inside, because, damn, it’s so parental I almost can’t handle it.
It was the night before Parker’s physical/check-up so he can begin kindergarten. I’d already said my goodnights, brushed their glorious hair (seriously, it’s amazing), and gone downstairs to get to work on whatever the hell it was that I needed to do that night. Thomas is the master of storytime, so he stayed up with the boys. About five minutes pass, and I hear this loud howling ringing down the stairwell and echoing through the house. Great, a child is crying. It’s not abnormal ’round these parts, but this wasn’t just any cry. This was a “Daddy ripped the head off of my favorite stuffed animal and told me that Santa isn’t real and that the Tooth Fairy promotes prostitution!” type howl.
Ten minutes of screaming later, Thomas descended the stairs, looking completely exasperated. Don’t ask me why, but he’d decided that right before bed would be the best time to inform Parker that along with his physical, he’d be getting shots–and before you get your ass all chapped about vaccinations, you should first know that I don’t care what you believe about them, okay? Moving on.– I don’t recall Parker ever being terrified of getting them, but of course, he was never exactly excited, either.
It’s not that I don’t get it- I do! When I was his age, I was so terrified of needles that I had to be physically restrained in order to receive shots. Over time (a lot of it) and with age, and a boatload of tattoos, bloodwork, and intimate knowledge of the pain of childbirth, and I know that shots are nothin’. They don’t even rate on my pain scale. They come and go so quickly that there’s no point even freaking out about it, yet still, my kid does, and still, I try to reason with him.
That was when the words came to me, without even having to think about it, amidst his brain killing screams. “Honestly, kid, this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.”
Did I really say it? Yes. Yes I did. For shame. Do I believe it? Absolutely, and NOT just for shots.
Time outs? Ugh. It’s not even painful for them, JUST US. The crying, the whining, the pleading, the bargaining, the complaining. Whatever vegetable/food they deem disgusting any given day? I’m not giving it to you to torture you, child. When you’re done, you’ll be better off- healthier. stronger, even- but you’ll have left me with a searing stress headache. Thanks a fucking lot. Booboos? For you, it will heal. For me- the mental picture of gunk buried under your skin with blood oozing out can never be unseen. Ever.
Oh, and then there’s the guilt that goes along with all of it! Even if I KNOW I’m doing the right thing, that it has to be done, is for your benefit, will make you better/smarter/stronger/less of an a-hole, when you act like it’s KILLING you (and it isn’t. gah)- it fires up the big ol’ pot of mom guilt that sits in the bottom of every mom’s stomach. It usually loves to bubble up during trips to the grocery store when you act a fool, and during doctor’s appointments, but makes a special exception for your mega-meltdown hissy fits over a teeny-tiny splinter in your foot and other complete overreactions.
So yes, children, it IS going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you. Pretty much always. Deal with it.
Go on. Go for it, older generation. Go ahead and say it. “I told you so”- you know you wanna. You know it will be sooo very satisfying. And you KNOW it’s gonna hurt me more than it hurts you. Damnit.
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