Almost weekly I delve into what’s left of my mind and attempt to explain what I’ve seen you all doing wrong this week, yet I hold out hope that occasionally someone will read this column and change their ways or temper their behavior to irritate me less. To date this has proved fruitless, futile really, as this week I have even more issues I could easily correct if I could just get anyone to listen to me.
Many of you are parents and while I can’t do anything about that, mainly because there is no law against it, I regret that many of you chose this particular path. Geez, I need a home inspection before I can adopt a dog and oddly, we have laws that tell me which bathroom I have to use but a simple learner’s permit or license before you add another mouth to the planet was too much for the politicos in Washington to grasp. Anyway, parents are often irrationally proud of their progeny and delight in our pain as they blather on in person or in the bane of our existence…the holiday letter, whose only saving grace is that it’s flammable. As a parent I have been involuntarily, and against my better judgment, studying parents for several decades now and it has become abundantly clear that parents don embarrassingly rose-colored glasses when talking about their offspring, usually with Frank Sinatra’s My Way playing softly in the background. Here are two things I’ve found most constantly true to the chagrin of many parents: If your child has a problem with a teacher…the problem is not the teacher and if your child has a problem with a rule…the rule is not the problem.
I began this rage today with the intent of telling you the following and now that I’m halfway done, I suspect I should get on with it. Whenever someone tells you they want to tell you a funny story about something their kid did, get ready to hear the least funny thing you have ever heard in your life. Parents fail to understand it’s only funny to them, it’s not really funny at all and it’s certainly not funny to anyone else in the world. And parents, consciously or not, always catch me when I haven’t had time to plan my escape route. I’m usually at some gathering with a drink in my hand or cake in my mouth and my back against the wall because running for my life from a parent on a mission hasn’t entered my mind yet so I must look like easy pickin’s for the parentosaurous lumbering toward me. So if you find yourself at a gathering of parents, and they’re everywhere, I advise you to have a flight plan in place when you’re accosted on the patio, PFA meeting, grocery store etc. If you can’t just run away, you then need a verbal rejoinder to cut into their story time. But as a civilized member of society you have an obligation to be kind, gentle and let the other parent down easy. So I always say. “I can barely stand stories about my own family. Why would you think I could tolerate hearing about yours?” See…gentle and kind.
I know you think because you’re a parent and I’m a parent that we’re all members of the same club, but that doesn’t give you license to put me to sleep telling me how your child answered question #4 on his remedial math quiz. And I don’t care if your daughter got into your makeup and made the family basset hound look like Eleanor Roosevelt. If you expect me to listen to a funny story about your kids, it had better include a bone sticking out the side of his/her leg or intestinal surgery to remove a fire truck that was included in his Happy Meal.
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