In most ways, I don’t really care how you raise your special snowflake. You probably don’t care how I raise mine. Go to church, don’t. Bottle feed breastfeed play soccer play video games eat organic eat McDonald’s be a vegan. Be Amanda Chantal No-Bacon Bacon. Whatever. I don’t care. I may talk a little shit about you on the internet, but these things do not affect me and I wish you all the best with your maca powder and activated cashews.
But can we all please, as parents, agree on a few things in the interest of creating a decent community?
Despite social media feeds claiming otherwise, parents can’t create perfection. We don’t have the power to save our kids from their fatal flaws, from the mistakes they’ll make to learn critical lessons, from heartbreak and breaking hearts and doing really stupid shit in their 20s. We can try. We can do our best to help them learn, but they are who they are and they will have what I like to call: Super Unfortunate Features.
This is a daunting reality. I hate this. It hurts. I watch my kids with certain personality situations and think, “Wow, that’s going to make life hard for them if they don’t knock that shit off,” and I tell them everything I know, and I let natural consequences happen to help them learn – I do everything I can – but on some level, kids are who they are and we can’t “fix” them into a No-Problem-Ever version.
I hate not having this control. I hate feeling powerless over the fact that my kids are going to grow into the humans they were meant to become, and some of us were meant to drop acid in Honduras when we’re fifteen. NOT THAT I DID THAT.
Anywho, since we don’t have omnipotent powers, it confuses me when parents don’t take advantage of the few things we have control over, such as, for example, COMMON DECENCY.
Not being a dick.
This is not hard. This is easy. This is like one area of parenting that isn’t complex and confusing and yet, not all parents do it. Why? This is the “gimme” of parenting. The low-hanging fruit. The freebie.
THIS IS THE AREA WE CAN REALLY SHINE, PEOPLE.
And yet, so many assholes on the playground.
Here. Fine. Maybe we do something like this, all of us, every parent in America: “Hey kid. Don’t insult the way people eat, look, dress, or talk. Say ‘thank you’ when somebody gives you a gift.”
We could just start there and see what happens.
Is that hard? It doesn’t seem hard. And yet my kids are bombarded by kids with the manners of drunk uncles talking politics on Christmas.
My kid gets called all kinds of names, gets her lunch made fun pretty much daily, is terrified to wear anything “not pretty” because people “will make fun of her.” One of my other kids gave a “friend” from another class a Valentine and the kid in question scoffed and threw it side, asking, “Why are there only TWO candies?” My kid came home humiliated. I won’t even go into the shit my 14-year-old hears in junior high.
My kids are not perfect. They are annoying as hell sometimes. Especially in hotel rooms. They all have their “special features” that make me, on occasion, want to pummel them. Gently. Just a little.
But they have manners and know how to treat people with basic kindness because THIS IS A BASIC FUNCTION OF BEING A BASIC HUMAN and frankly we have “BASIC HUMAN” NAILED.
Basic human is my bitch.
Is it yours?
If not, why not? Why does it not matter to raise a human that functions on a vaguely pleasant level with other humans? How the hell does a 10-year-old not know that when somebody hands you something pleasant, you say THANK YOU?
The other day my 5-year-old asked me about my belly. Something super subtle like, “Why is it so big?” It was an innocent observation, but still kind of a dick move, so, as her mother, I realized – like a fucking genius – that it’s my job to teach her something.
So I answered, “Because I have fat. But we don’t comment on other people’s bodies, honey. It’s rude.”
BOOM. IN THE BAG. Parenting goals. I walked outta that room like a superhero, teaching manners like a motherfucking ninja.
Do ninjas teach manners? Probably not. Sorry. I’m mixing my similes.
A few days later, somebody called her “fat” at school and told her they “hate” her pants.
Would you walk up to somebody and say, “Your pants are stupid. I hate them.”?
Or, “Your lunch is disgusting!”
I didn’t think so.
(And if you would, please stop reading. We’re done here.)
WHAT THE FUCK HUMANS?
Clearly not everybody is doing their part here. Why have kids if you aren’t willing to help them grow into basically kind people? Why have kids if you aren’t interested in showing them how to not be assholes.
You know the rest of us have to live with your offspring, right?
We have to share a planet with your tiny snowflake and if your tiny snowflake is a dick, nobody will like your snowflake. Someday, somebody may punch your snowflake in its snowy mouth.
But you know, all hypothetical empty threats aside, sometimes I wonder if our world has just become a giant cluster of humans scrambling to get on top. Like I wonder if parents are purposely letting their kids be assholes so they will be the bully instead of the bullied. Or maybe they’re mean to their kids. Or insult the way yet look. I don’t know. Something is wrong. It’s getting Lord of The Flies up in here.
It often feels like we do our best to raise decent kids and then we send them off into a world devoted to beating that decency out of them.
And that’s why I’m writing this. We have to work together to stop raising tiny rude people.
Or at least, fewer.
For community. For the future. For America! Raise a kid you wouldn’t mind working with. Standing next to in the DMV. Serving dinner to. Engaging with ever in any circumstances.