I have decided that I am going to scar my children for life. At first it wasn’t a conscious thing, but I recently realized that no matter what I do my kids are going to have issues, so I might as well just go with it. Look at me– you can tell just by reading this blog how much my parents scarred me! And if they hadn’t, well, I don’t like to think about that. I might be normal, or boring, or not addicted to ice cream. We wouldn’t want that, would we?
I think that if we try too hard NOT to scar our kids, we’re more likely to scar them in ways that will require many years of highly expensive therapy. I mean, how many people do you know who say “I just want my kid to have a normal childhood,” and then try so hard to be normal that their kids just can’t function in a world where there are, let’s all admit it, a whole bunch of abnormal people? Okay, I don’t know if I actually know anyone like that, but it sounded good in my head.
Anyway, I have decided that since it’s fairly likely my children are going to grow up scarred anyway, I might as well do it my way. I mean, I could scar them by forcing them to eat nothing but raw chicken and Brussels sprouts every day of their lives, so that they grow up and join a commune and run around in nothing but fig leaves, or I could scar them so that they are incapable of eating anything for breakfast but bananas, cereal, and milk (not touching). Oh, that’s right, I already did that. Still, I think the latter will be much easier for my future daughters-in-law to deal with.
When you think about it, being a parent is like being a potter who knows from the start that his work is going to be flawed. At least if we’re careful we can control some of the flaws so that when we’re done we can pretend they’re supposed to be there, right??? Did that even make sense?? I’m not sure I should really be allowed to blog after I take my medicine.
I realized today that I am in the process of doing something to my child that he will undoubtedly hate me for in about ten years, maybe sooner if I do it right. I am scarring him, I know I am. It has to do with nicknames. When our sons were born, we debated and deliberated for hours over their names, until we finally settled upon the BEST NAMES EVER. Ryan Joseph. Samuel John. Nice names. Solid names. They roll off the tongue. They sound good together. They’re easy to yell when your kid is standing butt naked in the backyard peeing in the grass. But I am a nicknamer. I can’t help myself. My children have had nicknames almost since birth. Ryan was Booter. And Butter. And Bubs and Bubba. I still call him Bubs and Bubba. Also Buddy, and the typical Sweetheart, Sunshine, and of course Sugar-Booger. Sam was Boo. And Boo-Bear, and Sammy-boo, and of course Sugarplum and Sweet Pea. And Stinky.
I am mostly concerned about Stinky. I am pretty sure no child could be scarred by the nickname Boo unless his mother insisted on calling him that in front of his grandchildren. (“Now, sweeties, let’s look at your grandpa’s scrapbook. Oh, there’s my little Boo shaving for the first time! What a sweetheart he was back then!”) But Stinky is a whole different story. See, not only do I call my son Stinky, but he answers to it. A lot. And do you know what I’ve discovered? People at WalMart look at you funny when you say things like “Stinky! How many times do I have to tell you not to lick the apples??” Well, maybe that’s a bad example. But you get the idea.
I caught myself tonight referring to my son as Stinky to my husband. We were talking about Sam sleeping all by himself in the sofa bed (don’t ask) and I said “Aw! Stinky would look so little in that big bed!” Whoa. It’s one thing (a weird thing, but one thing nonetheless) to call your son Stinky to his face, especially when he’s being a stinker, which Sam is quite often. It’s a whole different ballgame to refer to him as Stinky to someone else.
The only consolation is that he does know his real name. So don’t worry, Dad, he won’t be confused when he goes to kindergarten and they call him Sam instead of Stinky. I’m just saying.
About a month ago I had the following conversation with my son, Ryan, who is not quite five and cherishes the desire that one day all the world will be at his beck and call to answer his every question:
Ryan: How fast is too fast?
Me: Um . . . (How exactly does one answer this question? Is there even an answer to it? How fast is too fast? 1 mph over the speed of light is technically too fast, since we can’t apparently go that fast. But I don’t want to get into the speed of light with my four-year-old, because no way could I explain that. I can’t even answer a simple question . . how fast is too fast?)
Ryan: Mommy? MOMMY! I ASKED A QUESTION!
Me: Hush, Ryan, Mommy’s thinking! I’ll answer in a minute. (hmm . . . there has to be an answer to this question. If I say “I don’t know” he will ask everyone the same question until he gets an answer to it that satisfies him. I’m pretty sure that the cashier at Shop N Spend doesn’t want to deal with this either. Wait, what’s that out the window? “Speed Limit 55” . . . hmmm . . . )
Ryan: Mommy? How fast is too fast?
Me: Yup. Definitely.
Ryan: Oh, okay.
Two days later, in the van on the interstate:
Ryan: Mommy, how fast are you going?
Ryan: Oh. Okay.
Ryan: Because if you were going fifty-six I was going to tell you that was too fast and you needed to slow down.
You can’t make this stuff up. Since my moment of sheer brilliance, my children have begun to use the word “fifty-six” as a synonym for “too fast.” As in: “Mommy, that police car is giving that man a ticket because he was going fifty-six!” Or: “Mommy, push the cart FIFTY-SIX!!”
See? My kids are going to be scarred for life. I tell them stupid stuff like that all the time. It’s fairly likely that my children are going to grow up thinking that Marshmallow Peeps are really called “chicken candy” and that it’s normal for toddlers to know all the words of “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”
Oh, well, at least they will never be forced to grow up in a house where the entire kitchen is decorated with corn memorabilia.
I’m still working through my own issues on that one.