Thursday, April 24, 2014

Parenting Through Cynicism

This post is dedicated to my children. Whom I love, though Loyal Readers of this blog may have the opposite impression. And one day, if they (my children) read through this blog, perhaps they will feel insulted. But then they will have their own kids and say Ohhhh, now I get it.

Because that's the thing. It's an unwritten rule (I think - hope?) among people who make fun of parenting on blogs that there's a single, underlying, unwavering truth: We love our kids to pieces. Like, so much it hurts and makes us a bit teary. But see, we don't need to blog about that. Everyone knows that. And since I live to entertain, it is much funnier to write about how you walked past the bathtub the other night and the following words came out of your mouth: "Do not put your foot in your brother's penis." (Just like that, the words rolled right off, without even thinking, like it ain't no thang.) Instead of "Gazing at my sleeping angels this morning. Nothing sweeter than these precious little faces! And, is that snot or saliva in her hair?" (See, I can't even through a pretend beautiful thought without snarking it up.)

So we write about the omg, exasperating, frustrating, when-is-it-bedtime, I can't believe I/they just did/said that moments, because parenting is often exasperating and frustrating and full of waiting for bedtime. (In the great words of the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey - before she died of influenza - haha, did you think I spoiled something? I haven't even caught up on the latest season yet! I'm just playin' wicha - anyway, she said "One forgets about parenthood. The on-and-on-ness of it." Oh yes.)

But there are some Important Things I've learned about parenting through cynicism. And this post seems especially relevant now, having just come off a (lengthy, oh-so-lengthy) Pesach break. Where there was lots of eye rolling and "is it bedtime (mine) yet?" and "I'm running away and never coming baaaaaack!!!!!" moments, but also lots of genuinely enjoyable, fun, beautiful, amazing moments. Like Nadav doing the mah nishtanah ("But Ima," he whispers before he starts, "I need to stand on a chair!") and our chol hamoed tiyulim, hiking through aquaducts and climbing on ruins and beautiful views and lots of ice cream and realizing during car ride conversations that - yay! - our kids have a really awesome sense of humor and are fun to be around, when they are not pelting each other with potato chips and carefully noting every unfairness that is hurtled in their direction. (Seriously, the Unfairness Log could wrap the earth seven times).

So here are some of the Important Things I've learned:

1. Know when to turn it off. A healthy dose of cynicism is crucial for helping you get through the day, but knowing when to turn it off is equally as important. When I was tiyuling with the goons, I wasn't thinking, "Wow thank God they are not fighting." I was honestly and totally enjoying myself, enjoying them. For who they are, not what they were or weren't doing.

2. Only be cynical about your own kids. An obvious one. In the same way that you can make fun of your family members but God help the stranger that tries to, don't be cynical about other people's kids and their lack of parenting skills.

3. Listen to the stupid stories. I really try (and sometimes it's hard, man, so hard) not to roll my eyes at some seemingly insignificant story from school or a guess-what-happened-in-my-TV-show-last-night! Because of this powerful quote (and no, not "Wait for the Ben & Jerry's to soften a little. It will make it much easier to scoop into a bowl or directly into your mouth.") This one, which I found out thanks to Google, originates from Catherine Wallace: “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” (Italics are mine.) So true.

4. Don't be a killjoy. Yes, when they are telling really obvious, unfunny jokes or singing through their entire Pesach repertoire (and there are MANY, many Pesach songs), I am tempted to indulge a big, yelly PLEASE STOP!!!!! (that's the polite version). But then I think, so what? They are enjoying themselves, having fun, being silly. Unless it's destructive or at a headache-inducing noise level, kids gonna do lots of things that will amuse themselves and will most likely bother me. But that's okay. They are kids, for crying out loud (yes, something else they excel at). Let them be silly and amusing and annoying. I'll deal.

So that's some of the behind-the-snark here at ABA.

In other news, an amusing Pesach moment:

Nadav, looking horrified at the idea of "matzah pizza," tries to negotiate for real pizza. "Just a small one," he bargains. When that was met with a definitive no, he tried a tactic that had worked so well the week before Pesach: "But I will eat it outside! On the mirpeset!" He was confused and angry and saddened when I refused that, too. In the end, he settled for scrambled eggs. Again. I gave him poofahs for creativity, but that did not mollify him. Oh well. Now he's back to big pizza that we can even eat inside, so all is well.

Also!!! He totally gets ruins now! "פעם זה היה בית. עכשיו זה נשבר/Once this was a house. Now it is broken." Yep, that's about right.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Cheating Post

As some of you may know, I also blog over at Jewish Values Online. Normally, the posts are a mix of semi-serious and snark. However, this week's blog post was something that I think my snark-only ABA readers would enjoy. So, here is the link, if you haven't read it yet.

If you have, I apologize for posting a new post here that's really just an old post from somewhere else.

Is it naptime yet?