I have three kids, so I know a lot of moms. Some are older than me, some are younger, and we all have different parenting styles which range from super strict (according to my kids, I am in this group) to very relaxed. Some drink and swear, while some live a squeaky clean life. I am sure you get where I am going with this: We all handle ourselves and the way we parent differently. But we all agree on two things: 1) We don’t want to raise assholes, and 2) it is really hard not to raise assholes.
We teach, we preach, and we try showing them better ways to handle themselves and certain situations — only to have them turn around and do the very thing they just got punished for. Kids are not robots who come with a “perfect” setting. They are natural-born assholes who want what they want when they want it. Parents everywhere are trying to remove the assholery from their kids every single day, and along the way there are obstacles such as:
You did an awesome job yesterday and you are tired.
Really, yesterday I kicked ass. I was engaged, in the moment, ignored my phone, baked with them, crafted with them, got down on the floor and played with them, taught them a few good lessons, cleaned my house, and ended my day by getting my ass kicked in Risk by my 9-year-old. Today I am a little tired, and by that I mean utterly exhausted. So when I hear my son asking Siri if she has to take a dump, I might pretend I can’t hear him so I can keep up with my single friend’s Tinder experiences via Facebook while enjoying a glass of wine. I would like to think I was “on” all the time, but I’m not. Neither are you.
We don’t see everything they do.
We are not there every second. Even though I tell my kiddos I have eyes in the back of my head, I really don’t. Even when I yell after them, “If you act like a jerk, I will hear about it,” I might not. There are times I wish I did and could see every dick head move my kids try, but you know what? I have also found when they get caught by another adult who addresses their assholery with them, it has quite a bit of power over them. Do we ignore our kids in hopes someone will take over for us? Not all the time, no, but getting caught by another adult has made my kids stand at attention and behave more than once, and I doubt the people who witnessed these moments thought my little scalawags were assholes.
Sometimes we give in just so we can make it through the day.
I know all the perfect parents never do this, but I will be the first to admit I am not a perfect parent. Sometimes I give in and buy that stuffed animal, that large ice cream, or that giant bouncy ball for my child just so I can get through the day without losing my shit. Guess what? Sometimes they don’t deserve it, but I do it anyway because I am afraid of the alternative if I don’t give in. We all do what we need sometimes in order to salvage ourselves and the day that is laid out before us. Sometimes that looks like walking around Target with a bear bigger than me while my child eats an Icee while playing on my phone because I need to get bread, tampons, and milk and make it out of there without opening up a bottle of wine and Tylenol in aisle 4.
They get tempted.
They see Tommy being an asshole and they decide it looks good on Tommy. They want to try out taking a huge handful of mints as we are leaving the Chinese restaurant because, hey, it worked out for Tommy. Or maybe they aren’t getting the attention they want from you and don’t know how to express it, and your drawer of makeup is looking all pretty and colorful and they decide it would be really fun to rub it all over themselves. We all have tempting things dangling in our face all the time and it’s hard for kids to learn self-control. They are thinking about what would be super fun in this moment, not about the consequences. Total asshole behavior.
You are sick.
Trying to mom while you are sick is the worst. The kids know they can get away with finger painting the walls and bathing with the dog while wearing all their clothes and all your jewelry because you can not pick your head up off the sofa. They are little assholes running around with their asshole hair on fire and there is nothing you can do about it. By the time you are feeling better, it just isn’t worth punishing them. You are just happy to have made it through to the other side and all you want to do is take your little assholes to a movie or for an ice cream because you feel bad about not being able to mom for a day or two.
They are having a shitty day.
We all have shit days, kids included. There are days when I don’t want to do my laundry or pay bills, so I just fool around instead knowing full well I can just get to all the boring stuff later, like after a glass or two of wine. Grown-ups are allowed to do this. There is nobody standing over us asking why we didn’t do our math in class instead of putting chewed up paper in Rebecca’s hair. If they responded with, “I just needed to blow off some steam first, but I will get to those math facts after I have had a few cold chocolate milks,” they would look like a huge asshole.
Every child I know has had their asshole moments. There are no exceptions here. And every parent I know has tried really hard not to raise an asshole. So next time you see a little shit running around when they should be docile, just know the parents probably try really hard. Or at least they did yesterday, and they are really tired. But most of all, just be glad that this time, it isn’t your little asshole causing a commotion.