The other day, as soon as my son stepped into the car after school, he started whining and complaining. He snapped at his brother. He shot us dirty looks. He was snarly and growly and just not that fun to be around.
In other words, he was kind of acting like an asshole.
Now before you get all up in my grill about how I just said that my son was an asshole, can we skip past the self-righteous assumptions about my kids and my mothering? I didn’t call him an asshole; I said he was acting like one. And I didn’t say this to my son (though I really wanted to); I just thought it in my head. He is generally a really good kid, which made his assholery so out of character—and frustrating.
But here’s the thing: All kids can act like assholes sometimes. Even the sweetest, calmest, most easygoing kids can unleash their inner beast from time to time. Maybe the weather is too hot, or too cold. Maybe they didn’t sleep enough last night, or they slept too much. Maybe their tag is itchy, their sock is prickly, and their hair hurts. Who the hell knows! Whatever the reason, all kids can behave like assholes—all of them.
In case you’re wondering whether your kid’s behavior has crossed the line, here is a non-exhaustive list of 25 ways kids can bring on the assholery:
1. Throwing tantrums in the middle of the dairy aisle at Target because we won’t get the “pink milk.”
2. Telling us they love their other parent more than us.
3. Eating the last Oreo cookie and putting the empty bag back in the pantry.
6. Refusing to wipe their own butts, which means we either have to 1) wipe their ass for them or 2) clean their shit-stained underwear.
7. Bashing their brother in the head with a foam sword.
9. Bashing their sister in the head with a plastic Barbie.
10. Calling us “The World’s Meanest Mom” when we tell them it’s time to take a bath.
11. Refusing to keep their pants on—at church.
12. Reminding us of all the things we’re doing wrong. You’re driving on the wrong street. You picked the wrong shirt. You’re talking wrong. You’re building that 3-foot-tall Lego tower wrong.
13. Knocking down a 3-foot-tall Lego tower we spent a whole afternoon building at their request.
14. Kicking us in the gut, crotch, and forehead all night long when we generously let them sleep in our bed.
15. Telling us the meal we spent two hours preparing tastes “like poo.”
16. Pointing out the wrinkles on our foreheads and the cellulite on our thighs.
17. Ignoring our texts checking to see if they got home OK, asking how basketball practice was, and wondering what they want for dinner.
18. Telling us they wish we were more like so-and-so’s parents.
19. Hiding their dirty clothes under their bed for a week until the stink-rot smell starts to filter out the door and we wonder whether a family of mice might have died in the walls.
20. Lying about stupid shit.
21. Lying about serious shit.
22. Answering our questions about how their day was and what’s on their mind and how they feel with one-word answers or grunts.
23. Ditching us to spend time with their friends.
24. “Borrowing” our clothes (often the same ones they told us looked “all wrong” just a few years earlier).
25. Growing up too damn fast. Way too fast.
So you see, kids do act like assholes from time to time. Lots of times. But in spite of it all, we love them. We love our little assholes. And besides, their assholery often makes for a pretty good story.
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