This spring has been jammed full of kid-related events. Between birthday parties, Girl Scout events, and class field trips, I’ve spent more time with the 10-below crowd than ever before. It was during El’s 10th birthday party recently that I arrived at two uncomfortable truths about myself. I’m stepping forward to reveal these deep, dark secrets because I suspect I’m not the only parent with these horrible burdens on my shoulders. We, the parents, need to bond together and support each other, because we have a lot more of these trying years to wade through.
Uncomfortable Truth #1: I don’t really like kids very much.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some disgruntled curmudgeon shaking my fist at the neighborhood kids and yelling at them to get off my damn lawn. For one, my “lawn” consists mainly of crabgrass, dandelions, and purple wildflowers that I find quite pretty but are technically weeds. If anything, neighborhood kids would track grass seed into our yard from theirs and potentially improve the landscape. More importantly, I am happy that my girls have friends within shouting distance and I enjoy watching them all run around the yard together like a pack of giggling, flip-flop wearing hyenas.
So it’s not like I hate kids. There are individual children whom I love very much and enjoy spending time with. I also see the potential in every child and believe it should be nurtured, and at times have had the opportunity to guide and instruct children who don’t even belong to me. It’s really cool when you see the lightbulb go off over their heads because they just got what you were talking about. Those brief moments make me think I might have missed my calling to be a teacher.
However, all the warm fuzzies tend to fade when children gather into groups and I am somehow in charge of wrangling them in the same general direction and getting them to follow instructions. That’s when I go from “I believe the children are our future,” to “Ok dammit, where’s the teacher?”
|Ms. Sassyfat's Class: What might have been.|
Children are intent on two things: discovering the world and asserting their independence as people. When they’re really little, they carry out their mission by sticking everything into their little mouths and then screaming at you when you confiscate the penny/dog poop/razor blade/radioactive waste/whatever from them. While this stage can be very nerve wracking, at least the child is still small enough for you to pick them up and easily move them to a
locked cage safer area. Problem solved.
But as they get older and develop language and reasoning skills, they start to assert their desires verbally. Should their desires be countered with a negative response, they proceed to argue their case like little political pundits subtly highlighting the stupidity of the opposing side with semi-polite interjections. Their weapon of choice in this battle of wills is the phrase, "But I just..."
Adult: No, you may not play with your dad’s flamethrower.
Child: But I just want to hold it.
Adult: The answer is no.
Child: But I just want to hold it, please.
Adult: The answer is NO!
Child: But I just want to hold it, PLEASE! ...and make it breathe fire ...at my little brother.
Now multiply this conversation 10 – 20 times and have it occur simultaneously, only the “but-I-just” part is at least three completely different things. Then have two or three of the kids in the crowd volunteer to lead the pack in completely opposite directions by sounding the battle-cry, “COME ON, GUYS!! THIS WAY!!!” (Sometimes the battle cry is preceeded by the warning shot, "HEY GUYS! I HAVE A GREAT IDEA!!) Keeping a herd of willful children alive, accounted for, and on task is something I can do. It's just not my idea of fun.
Uncomfortable Truth #2: I don't hate Tween music.
|Ms. Sassyfats' Class: What would have been.|
I realize my written confession of Uncomfortable Truth #2 will haunt me way longer than that of Uncomfortable Truth #1. Especially since I have a musical background and used to want to be a heavy metal singer. But the horrifying fact is, my ears did not bleed after two hours of Justin Bieber, Miranda Cosgrove, and Big Time Rush at El’s birthday party. Granted, the music was enhanced by the sound of bowling balls crashing into pins the whole time, but still. As El and her friends danced around to the music, I realized I knew at least some of the words to many of the songs. To make matters worse, I later realized that the upbeat One Direction song about some girl whose self-esteem issues make her cute does not make me lunge for the radio dial or jab an ice pick in my eardrums or anything like that. Nor does it raise my 30-something suburban hipster irony levels to any detectable level. The song is sweet, it makes me smile, and I'm sure those boys' mothers are very proud of them.