Michael Ian Black is an actor/comedian. He is also the author of the hilarious memoir, You’re Not Doing It Right.
My wife and I have two children, and by every objective measure, I am the superior parent. More patient, more even-tempered, more punctual. I am a firm keeper of bedtimes and a strict enforcer of television viewing times. I am forceful, yes. A disciplinarian, yes. Yet I am also a boon companion when wrestling is to be done or tickling to be had. If one were to devise a method by which to keep score on parenting, and pit my parenting skills against my wife’s, it wouldn’t even be a fair contest. I would win said competition without even breaking a sweat.
Actually, such a scoring system already exists. In fact, I keep a running point tally in my mind of all the times when I have displayed worthier parenting acumen. By this system, I am kicking my wife’s ass. She is too much of a pushover, too willing to buy the children Gummi worms regardless of proximity to dinnertime, too lax when a new episode of Adventure Time is on EVEN THOUGH IT IS AFTER THEIR BEDTIMES. When the children claim to be sick on school mornings, she is too willing to believe their lies. For all these offenses, and more, she loses points.
And yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, my wife sometimes acts as though it is she – not I – who is the better parent. Laughable, I know. How dare she inform me, as she did this very evening, that I am a “birdbrain” for not making my son’s bed in her preferred manner, which involves some sort of bed sheet origami known only to her and the ancient emperors of Japan’s Asuka period.
I know there are “experts” out there who say parenting should not be a competitive endeavor, but I suspect the only reason those experts are saying such things is because they are losing their own child-rearing wars at home.
Let me be clear: parenting is a blood sport. Mother and father fight to the death to raise their offspring in the best possible manner (ie: as much like themselves as possible). How else to ensure that we pass on, not only half of our genes, but A HUNDRED PERCENT of our manga, or “fighting spirit”?
An example: while putting my son to bed last night, my wife and I got into a small dispute over which of us is “more stubborn.” I, of course, insisted that she is the more stubborn of us. Because she is so stubborn, she refused to accept my verdict, and, unbelievably, insisted the opposite to be true. An impasse. To resolve the issue, I asked my son. “Which of us is more stubborn?” I asked.
He demurred, perhaps not wanting to be forced to choose between his parents. Nonsense. Twaddle. I persisted. “Which is it?” I demanded.
“You are,” he said, looking at me.
“I told you,” smirked my wife as she exited his room.
“Thank you,” I said to my son, kissing him on the forehead.
For proving my point, young man, for proving my point.
Allow me to explain: were she the better parent, my son would have pointed the accusatory finger in her direction, knowing that a truly great parent will be more forgiving and understanding when indicted. But because I am the better parent, he, rightly, risked my wrath secure in the knowledge that I would instantly forgive him his obvious lie for the sake of keeping harmony in our happy home.
My son instinctively understood what I have done a masterful job of articulating herein, namely that in the death match known as “raising children,” I am the clear cut, undisputed winner.
(Please don’t show this to my wife.)