Keeping It Together When Your Kids Compare You To The Joneses

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Nothing makes my blood boil faster than hearing the small person I pushed out of my body tell me that I am doing this parenting thing all wrong. It’s not enough that I feed them and put clothes on their precious, little backs. They don’t give a shit how many times they screamed in my face at 2 a.m. as I cradled them in my arms in their adorable little nurseries, that were filled with a bunch of unnecessary crap. They don’t seem to remember all the epic blowouts and butt-wipings I have administered over the years. No, they are just experts on what I currently suck at, and they have tried to shame me countess times.

One of these days what I really want to say when my adorable child criticizes me is going to come spewing out. Parents are pretty damn amazing though and know how to keep their thoughts to themselves and say the right thing when it comes to this subject — most of the time anyway.

Child: I am the only one in my class without a phone.

Parents think: Oh my God, I am raising a manipulative liar. You will never have a phone you little shit. Parents say: Well, honey, that is too bad, but good things come to those who wait and it’s going to be a while before I buy you a phone.

Child: Tommy gets to stay up until 11 every night.

Parents think: No wonder Tommy is a raging asshole at drop-off, pickup, sporting events, and fuck, Tommy is always a mess. He needs sleep, that is his problem. Parents say: I am sure he does not stay up that late, and besides, 8:30 is when we are going to bed in this house. And look! Only four hours to go!

Child: A bunch of my friends got to go see the new zombie movie, and they said it wasn’t even scary.

Parents think: Yeah right, I bet their parents were checking every crevice of the damn house to assure their 9-year-old there were no hidden flesh-eating monsters every night for six weeks. No thank you. Parents say: I think it would even be too scary for me. Let’s skip that one and go see something else.

Child: I am the only one who gets a sandwich, fruit, and cheese stick in my lunch. Everyone else just brings in chocolate milk and a bag of chips.

Parents think: God, I am really raising a big fat lying-liar pants. He better shut up or I am going to pack him kale salad for the rest of the year. Also, I want some chips. Parents say: We get what we get, and we don’t get upset. Don’t eat your lunch if you don’t like it, but remember, no after-school snack if I see anything left in that lunchbox when you get home. Now, here are the fucking chips…

Child: Tommy’s parents are letting him go even though there are no parents there.

Parents think: Ah, no way in fucking hell are you going to pull that one over on me. I was the queen of this argument. I know what happens when there are no parents to watch a bunch of 13-year-olds: Bad things, things you are not going to do until you are 25. Parents: I said no. That is final. Maybe when you are 25 you can have an unsupervised playdate. Until then you can all come over to our boring house or hang out by yourself. Your choice.

Child: Everybody has a lot more toys and stuff than we do. What can’t we have more stuff?

Parents think: Because you are the biggest spoiled brats I have ever met and don’t even appreciate what you have. It is never enough. Plus, I like to spend lots of money on alcohol. Parents say: We can’t have everything we want. It is good to have future goals and leave some stuff for our Christmas and birthday lists. Now go play with that brand new Lego set you just got. We better not be out of wine…

Child: You never let us have friends over. Tommy gets to have friends over all the time.

Parents think: Tommy is an only child and his parents probably let him have kids over all the time so they can have a break from entertaining him. Parents say: Well, you can go play with your brother, sister, the dog, or by yourself. I am not in the mood today to have friends over honey, maybe tomorrow.

Child: We are the only family in the neighborhood that doesn’t have a cat. I really want one.

Parents think: Another type of feces I have to clean up. No thank you. Parents say: Maybe someday. Note to self: STOP SAYING THIS.

Child: I have way more jobs than any other kids my age.

Parents think: You have no idea how good you have it. In my day, I had to wash every dish, scrub the floors on my hands and knees and fold my mother’s underpants. Go feed the damn dog already. Parents say: It builds character. You are learning how to be a very hard worker, and I am proud of you.

Child: Tommy said his mom lets him listen to the adult kind of music all the time.

Parents think: I fucking hate Tommy. Tommy is the worst. Parents say: Well, that music is very inappropriate. We will listen to what Mommy wants.

Sometimes I am able to take a deep breath and have a really adult-like response when my kids compare my parenting to what other moms and dads are doing, but honestly sometimes a big hasty, “Really? Tommy has it pretty good, maybe you could go live there,” comes out. They usually respond with, “Yeah! I wish I could. You are so mean, and I hate it here.” Then they storm off to their room and you wonder if they are thinking about how good they actually have it — only they aren’t, because they are thinking about how fucking Tommy has it way better.

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