JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Parenting—the big lie

A few minutes ago I put my kids to bed without stories, snuggles or books.

The reason: The hit each other. My son, Emmett, told my daughter, Casey, he was going to run her feet over with his bike. So she smacked him. Then he smacked her. Then he started to cry, and called her a dummy. Hence, they’re both in bed.

Like all humans, I have a solid history of angry moments: The guy in front of me littering all over the movie theatre. Bush-Gore 2000. Walking out of the original Star Trek film. Learning that co-workers were making more money than I was. Tonight, however, wasn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong—I certainly don’t love hearing my kids fight. But, hell, they’re kids, learning the emotional ropes and figuring out how to respond appropriately. My daughter is 6, my son 3. This stuff happens.

Alas, I digress. In the immediately aftermath of the dust-up, I stormed into the room and made this face:

Photo on 2010-06-24 at 19.57

Was it sincere? No. I was mildly annoyed, and sorta irked. I dished out the ol’ “This isn’t how you speak to people!” speech, put then to bed, came downstairs and ate a delicicous apricot. Win-win—they get the lesson, I get the fruit.

Truth is, parenting is one big lie. It really is. Your little boy butchers a song—”Oh, Emmett, that was amazing!” Your daughter brings home some artwork that’s either an upside down purple booger or a portrait of Nancy Wilson—”Darling, you’ve got tremendous talent!” You sit through a three-hour ballet recital, begging to the Gods of Ginger Rogers that the damn thing just come to an end, sweating your ass off, pissed about spending $70 on a tutu your kid will never, ever, ever, ever wear again, thinking only about the Yankee-Blue Jay score, miserable as all hell—”Precious, you amaze me!”

And yet, I must say, my kids do amaze me. The highs are unspeakably high—pride I’ve never before felt; love I’ve never before known. I’m a hypochondriac who fears death, yet I’d take a bullet to the brain for my children this very second.

Weird world, huh?