I have a new rule. You don’t talk about your kids and I won’t talk about mine. Why? Because nobody cares about them, not like you do. No one wants to hear about how your kid is doing in school, or sports, or dance class, or Mensa, or the precociousness and judgment training every single, bloody day. Your kids are awesome but even they would be embarrassed by how much you talk about them. Giving them more than what you had is admirablel; living vicariously through them is just sad.
I think the ranting trigger for me is seeing all of those bumper stickers: "My kid is an honor roll student at the school they attend based on their zip+4 and local laws, not by choice." Hey, what if my kid needs tutoring? How do you think they feel when they read that? You're not thinking about them. I know sometimes we put the stickers on our cars because they beg us to, and who can look at a seven-year-old and not just melt and plaster the car with their accolades? But there are plenty of parents who plant the stickers like flags because they really believe their kid is more special than the other kids, and the world should know it. They're competitive - and for what reason? These are the same parents on the sidelines of the kids' sports fields that ruin it for everyone else because they are just way too into it. The type of parents who push their way to the front of a line so their kid can experience whatever event is occurring, ahead of the other kids, without waiting their turn, pretending not to know the semi-straight line of youngsters is meant to be followed, and they usually block the sight line of a dozen toddlers - a lot like aggressive drivers feel the need to be first in all driving situations.
Everyone's kids are special. And they all deserve accolades, and praise, and warmth. Just take it down a notch, and skip the trophies just for playing, because when they grow up and have to go out into the world, maybe everyone won't treat them like they're super-special, or entitled, and they might feel a little resentful. Yes, and maybe they'll find therapy helpful and decide to write a blog, but it's better than "Mommy, Dearest", don't you think?
So talk about your kid when they really deserve a bumper sticker, like:
- Your son won the lottery and paid off your house. He actually wired the money from a three-day rum fest in Barbados after marrying Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, Heather Graham and a monkey all in a civil cermony before local authorities caught on, and he only got two of them annulled by Monday.
- Your daughter designed a comfort-fitting chastity belt, and is paying her way through college with 113 scholarships she was awarded for having the best essays on 113 different subjects, and none of them were about soccer.
- Your middle-schooler pantsed three kids on the honor roll this week, just because they had it coming.
- Your baby has the missing ingredient for the AIDS vaccine in her tears, the cure for all forms of cancer in her saliva, and non-narcotic happy juice in her sweat glands that also fades wrinkles. Oh, and she hates beets.
Otherwise, get a hobby and keep the stories to every other day. Problems? Everyone’s got them. Meds? They all take them, some even with prescriptions. Sex? Doesn’t ever happen; kids just say it’s happening on all those questionnaires they’re handed to feel cool. (Humor me on this one. I have to cling to something to get me through the teen years and I'm just not ready to be a grand-pappy).
Hey, you wanna know what my daughter said at breakfast? Didn’t think so.