Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do...

As adults, we often promise ourselves that we will be better parents than OUR parents were, that we won't make the same mistakes, dole out those harsh punishments we recieved, or be as utterly and soulcrushing "uncool" as our parents were.


Then you catch yourself saying something that your parents had said to you years ago. And then you do it again. And again. And then you start listening to Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisand and thinking "Wow, this really isn't that bad". And then you make an appointment with your psychiatrist.

Here are some instances of my flashbacks:

1. The Question

This usually manifests when your child does something that you have told he/she not to do REPEATEDLY over the course of thier lifetime. Instances include, but are not limited to: 

  • running with scissors/knives/other sharp objects
  • doing somersaults that look so horrible that YOU have to visit a chiropractor
  • touching the stove or an open flame
  • running in the street without looking
  • hitting siblings and/or random strangers at the mall

The first thing that I vocalize in these situations is "The Question":

"What is WRONG with you??!?!?"

"Did the doctor drop you?!?"

"Are you trying to kill yourself?!?"

Even Captain Picard is disappointed in you, son.

2. The Life Sentence 

The life sentence usually shows after you have already punished the child for something, and the child refuses to abide by the terms of the current punishment. If you tell the child to stay in the room, you will see them peeking around corners, yelling at the top of thier lungs, kicking inanimate objects such as doors or walls, and other general horribleness.

I respond with the life sentence: 

"That's IT! You are grounded FOREVER!"

"You are never touching this again until you're 45!"

"You can get this back...........when you're done with COLLEGE!" 

Sorry, kid. The Governor can't bail you out of this one.

3. The Cinderella Clause 

Parents give their older children chores. They depend on those chores getting done to secure the last piece of thier sanity remaining. Children have a way of complaining about said chores EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, even though they have done the exact same chore for the previous 6 weeks straight. 

When this happens, and this dad is at the end of his rope, I envoke the Cinderella Clause:

"Since your brother/sister isn't complaining, maybe you should go ahead and do his/her chores too, and give him/her a night off. Yeah, that sounds like a GREAT idea!"

"Keep complaining. Oh, and by the way, when you're done with that, go wash the car."

Missed a spot.

4. The Hippocratic Threat

When I was young, I had a problem with defecating. I would dread it. This was before the time when we actually knew about different conditions that would make this painful and/or uncomfortable, but my dad fixed my problem. By threatening to "fix" it with a pair of snub nosed pliers. I thought this was cruel and unusual punishment, until years later when my daughter had the same problem, and I offered THE SAME SOLUTION before I could stop the words from sliding past my teeth.

This usually involves some unprofessional medical opinion that usually scares the shit out of a child.

"Oh, your tummy hurts? It's not because you don't want to eat your broccoli? Well, then...wash your hands, we have to go get you a bunch of shots to figure out what's wrong with you."

"Whoa, whoa,'re screaming like that because you got SHAMPOO in your eyes? Well, let me go get a spoon, and we'll take those puppies out so you won't have that problem again."

"He keeps getting hangnails. Time to amputate."

5. The Conversation Ender 

This is the parental trump card, and I have a feeling its used extremely often. 

When a child is getting belligerant and won't stop, it is the parent's responsibility to assert and reinforce thier authority status.

"Because I SAID SO, that's why."


So there you have it, tenets of parenthood that need to live on. Parental wisdom that needs to carry on to future generations. Because we don't want to be the only generation that's all fucked up.


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