A friend recently showed me a bumper sticker that said, “Proud Parent of a Great Kid Who Is Sometimes an Asshole and That’s Okay.”
Needless to say, I loved this and when I got home, I looked it up online. Not that I would buy it — my kids are not the type to be amused by my calling them assholes on bumper stickers. Really, I don’t even know why I looked it up, but I did, and I found many other “Proud Parent” bumper stickers in the process. Some examples:
Proud Parent of a Kind Child
Proud Parent of a Homeschool Honor Student
Proud Parent of Wonderful Children
Proud Parent of a Highly Gifted Kid
Proud Parent of a Child With Good Values
Proud Parent of My Star Student
Proud Parent of Generous Children
I mean, I don’t know. I am sure all of the parents sporting these bumper stickers do actually have smart and kind and generous children with good values, or whatever. But I suspect these are the very parents that sometimes look at me sideways in Target when one of my kids throws a beanbag chair at the other one. Even some of you reading this might be thinking, My god, can’t you control them? Is there no discipline in your household at all? I bet your kids just walk all over you. I bet you never tell them no. You act like a friend instead of a parent. You have not taught them how to behave in public/show respect for Target merchandise/not be little assholes.
And on that last one, you would be right. Sort of.
It’s not that I don’t try. Some days, it feels like every other thing out of my mouth is geared toward encouraging my kids to not be assholes. Other times, whole days go by and I realize that no one was an asshole at all. One of my little assholes recently hugged a total stranger at a nursing home. And I know he absolutely did not want to do it, but she was a sweet little old lady who asked very nicely, and I guess he felt like it was the right thing to do. That other time, throwing the beanbag chair was apparently the right thing to do. The fact is, sometimes my kids are assholes, and so are yours.
Here is the thing: Everyone is an asshole sometimes. Everyone. And if one person doesn’t think you’re an asshole at any given moment, you can always find another one who does. This is just normal and nothing to panic about. I bet even Ghandi was an asshole sometimes. And Abraham Lincoln. And probably even Chris Pratt, who seems to be one of the most likable humans alive. It’s a simple equation: human = occasional asshole.
And the same holds true for kids.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is I am tired of driving behind cars that contain “Kind Kids With Good Values” while mine are in the backseat giving each other the finger. I’m tired of worrying that when my child does something wrong, it’s because I have done everything wrong. I think, at this point, I’ve seen one too many blog posts, parenting magazines, and, worst of all, other parents, telling me “You are doing it wrong, but this is what you should do to fix it.” Most of all, I’m tired of me judging myself based on the judgments that I assume others are passing, even when they’re not.
Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t worry too much about any of that stuff. But I do really wish I could get that bumper sticker, because my kids really are assholes sometimes. Just the same as yours.