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Parent Abuse: Parenting’s Dirty Little Secret

29 May

I’m a Red Sox fan. I watched Game 6 and I endured as much of the pre-aughts misery as any other fan born in the 70s. I’m also a Dolphins fan, and while I got to watch Marino, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about since. But I stick around; I continue to root for my teams.

I watched “Lost” all the way through, gritting my teeth through the meandering episodes of Seasons 2 and 3 and sticking it out to the end, and I have fond memories of the show, even after that terrible final episode. And I somehow still watch “The Killing,” even after last year’s season-long tease and this year’s consistently stupid storytelling.

I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I take all the crap my favorite teams and TV shows have to give and I keep coming back for more. As a fan, you just have to take a lot of abuse.

But it’s nothing compared to what you endure as a parent.

I’ve never been in the armed forces, but I imagine basic training and toddler-raising are somewhat similar, at least when it comes to the amount of shit you have to take from your commanding officer. In the military, that’s a drill sergeant. In my case, it’s my not-quite-two-year-old son.

My son’s behavior, while, admittedly, probably at the high end of the spectrum (we’re either enduring an agreeably mild, only sporadically problematic case of the terrible twos or we’re fooling ourselves and will be in big fucking trouble when they finally hit), is often downright abusive. He screams in our faces; he throws food and other objects either at us or across the room just to spite us; he deliberately ignores and defies us (though maybe not deliberately, since there’s an excellent chance he has no idea where he is, let alone what we’re asking him); he even occasionally slaps and swats at our faces.

What do we do in response? Change his diapers, feed him meals, provide him with clothing and shelter, bathe him, escort him around in a chariot, offer him snacks and toys and various distractions when he gets hungry or bored, pick him up and carry him when he’s tired, buy him stuffed animals and train sets, take him to swim classes and ice creams shops. We cater to his every whim all day long, and then we do it again the next day. Even in the face of his brazen disregard for our authority, an ostentatious lack of respect for us as people and parents.

Is there another job on earth that entails taking such outrageous, consistent abuse? Another job where you essentially pay for the privilege of receiving terrible treatment from your boss? One where you keep coming back for more and even rewarding your staff?

People parent for a lot of different reasons: God told them to; Darwin told them to; MTV told them to; it’s what everyone else does; the condom broke; parenting is addictive; etc.

Personally, I’m a masochist.

If you have kids, I hope for your sake you are too.

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