Let the children play. And if it's not too much to ask, get out of the way
Me: Just Now
Move on if you beat your kids or condone it. It's one of those days.
You've been warned.
I was in the right aisle now, looking for the smallest and cheapest bottle of dish soap. The kids found a box of ice scrapers and pulled out one apiece. The store was practically empty; but a frumpy, graying woman browsed the same aisle, clearly annoyed that the kids ran back and forth between me and the scraper box.
Jackson's scraper knocked on the ground, so the lady turned to him and practically spat, "Those aren't hockey sticks!"
I turned to her and boomed, "Thank you!"
We stared at each other for a spell, me with raised eyebrows. She scrutinized my face for intent, but I wore the mask of amusement.
"My kids are all grown up," she told me, "and moved away."
I'll bet they wasted no time. I didn't reply. I turned to the kids. "Put the hockey sticks away; it's time to go."
"It's the hardest job in the world, raising children," she said to my retreating back.
I turned and looked at her. "Actually, I think it's a lot of fun."
Now, I know the waitresses of the world are spitting coffee at the computer monitor, thinking of all the little shits that have run under their feet, and all the youngsters and crusty curmudgeons are reliving every flight they've taken with a screaming kid a seat away.
Frankly Miss Scarlett, I don't give a damn.
I won't argue with you. You can hate kids, or live in that gray shadowland in between and call it what you will.
I'm not raising my kids to make you happy. I'm raising them to be happy.
Want to tell me that I'm not raising them right, that someday they'll land in jail because they haven't been prepared for the realities of the world? Go ahead. Check with me in twenty years and we'll compare notes. I'll take my chances.
I'm a product of "spare the rod" parenting, and I turned out just fine. But I'll never be happy. Not really. I'll come as close as one can come to being happy without really being happy, because deep inside I'll always be that kid whose mother left, whose step-mother beat, whose life was uprooted on a whim, who came in second, third, fourth and last in all things, always seen and not heard, the poster child for the strict discipline to which America so pines to return.
I won't debate it. I know what you think. It used to make me sad. I used to think I could make you see. But I realize that it doesn't matter any more. But don't step in my way anymore because I am tired of straddling the fence. Try to impress me with your morals anymore, and I will impress upon you back.
But it's not your fault, and I have to remember that.
How long until we figure out that love is the answer, and not a leather strap, a swiss cheese paddle, the back side of a hand, an open slap, a balled fist, or biting words of derision to a three year old child who doesn't know the meaning of the word share?
Answer: never. We are delusional and damn smug about it.
I see New England moms yelling at kids, shaming them for answering the call of their mercurial spirit. Don't worry parents. You will win the fight. You always do. That little spirit is large, but then so is a mountain. Tell that to the river and it will tell you that time is on its side. Your kids will grow up just like you, whether they like it or not. And that is why they will hate themselves and never fit in.
And you will be proud because they will hide it, never confront you, and even console you when you cry out in a fit of momentary clarity.