1. The mountains of plastic crud – After a few Christmases, birthdays, and trips to Chuck E. Cheese’s, you realize that basically your kid is getting the same thing over and over. It’s all just hunks of brightly colored plastic in different shapes. And they get heaps of it. You want to throw it all away, but you can’t. To kids, toys aren’t blobs of plastic; they’re playmates. And they love them and hug them and name them and cry if you get rid of them. So eventually, plastic crud ends up spilling out the windows and doorways of your home, and you need a shovel to get to the bathroom.
2. The incessant reminder that I’m becoming old – My now 7-year-old son, Will, once asked me if milk existed when I was young.
3. The incessant reminder that I’m not as smart as I should be – One day Will said, “Dad, do frogs have privates?” (Sigh.) I didn’t know. (In my defense, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Google it.)
4. Birthday presents – I’m not talking about the presents I buy for my kids. But why do we parents have to choke up $25 every other week just because our kids’ classmates existed for another year? And all these presents come in the form of plastic (See #1 above). As parents, we should revolt and, in lieu of gifts, just make a modest donation to the birthday boy’s/girl’s college fund. Seriously! Who’s with me?
5. Enrichment activities – The last thing you want to do as a parent is thwart the talent of the next Beethoven or Babe Ruth or Ella Fitzgerald that comes into the world. Who wants that on their conscience? So we all compensate by having our children involved in swimming club, debate club, chess club, macramé club, printmaking club, pyrotechnics club, welding class, shop class, cross stitch class, origami class, kirigami class, abstract expressionism class, auto body maintenance class, and track and field. Because, really, you just never know.
6. They break my stuff – They’re wrecking balls with legs. Next!
7. The utter disregard children have for social norms – Almost 99 percent of problems associated with parenting for the first five years boil down to just two facts: Adults care about social acceptability; kids don’t. You want your car to project an upwardly mobile professional image; your daughter wipes Cheetos dust all over your headrest. You want all your friends to think you’re a got-it-all-together, Super Parent; your kid keeps pooping in the corner of the living room when they visit.
8. The children remind me of my obnoxious personality traits by inheriting them – They do it on purpose.
9. How much food they eat (or whatever they do with it) – Try to make sense of this math. Take an average couple. Add to that couple a 5-year-old child who eats a third as much food as either adult, and the cost of groceries needed to sustain the family will triple. It’s illogical, inscrutable, and true.
10. They fear what’s not dangerous; they don’t fear what is dangerous – The same child who won’t sit on the toilet for fear of being sucked down when it’s flushed will plug a fork into a light socket, attempt to ride a rabid dog, and cram a sizzling firecracker into the deepest recess of their nasal cavity. It’s the irony that’s frustrating.
11. Almost killing your child – One of the secrets of being a good parent is to not kill your kid. But it’s harder than it might seem. One day, Will and I were play-fighting on the bed when I picked him up in the air and somehow dropped him into the crevice between the bed and the treadmill…head first. I was horrified. So was Will. “I don’t want to fight ever again,” he cried. Turns out, he was fine. We were wrestling again in about five minutes. The upside is, after you almost kill your child five or six times and they survive, you start to kind of relax about everything. That’s why parents who are raising their fourth or fifth kid are so much calmer than first-time parents…plus, they’re sleepy.
J. Shane Mercer is the digital marketing specialist at The Village Family Service Center. He and his wife, Amy, live in Fargo with their three children, Ariana (11), Talia (11), and Will (7).
About the Author: