Child Rearin'

Published on May 5th, 2016 | by Richard Black

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I LOVE MY DAUGHTER (I Just Don’t Like Her All the Time)

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Screw you sanctiparents. Screw you sideways.

Every once in a while I’m asked by some, presumably well meaning, sanctimonious prick if I really love my daughter. Apologies. I’m being sexist. These people aren’t always pricks. I’d call them bitches but I’m above that sort of thing.

Despite my unique take on parenthood I love my daughter very much. Unfortunately due to the many character flaws inherent with children I just don’t like her all the time. Children are remarkably irritating, phlegm filled, needy vectors of disease. Without constant supervision they’d probably die and constant supervision is really not my thing.

I refer to Darcy as my daughter but she’s  really just the latest in a long line of failures. The first Darcy never even made it home from the hospital because she couldn’t “latch on” to my wife’s breasts. Darcy 1.0 wasn’t even able to perform one of the most basic tasks of survival so, of course, we had to send her back. I like to think that she’s got a good life somewhere in the rural Midwest with the dog my father sent off to a farm.

Darcy 2.0 and 3.0 wandered off a few years back and I really don’t even want to discuss the fourth. The fact is that my wife Laura and I have become quite attached to Darcy 5.0 but really just because she’s been with us for so long.

I’m kidding of course. To my knowledge I’ve never lost a child and I love my daughter very much. It’s entirely likely that I love her more than most parents love their children. I’m not claiming to be a better parent than everyone else of course because that’s for posterity to decide.

Until then I’ll just note that there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t take part in some activity that I completely and thoroughly loathe simply for my daughter’s enjoyment. I play board games (an apt phonetic trick if there ever is one), dress up in weird costumes for tea parties, play pretend with Barbies or assemble Legos and I do it all with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart.

Unless of course I don’t.

Some parents have been blessed with an innate gift that’s, apparently, been left out of my DNA. They adore spending hours on end talking about mermaids or assembling teensy tiny little Calico Critters’ boxes of cereal and other goods.

I do not but, as long as Darcy wants me to take part in them or a have a psychotic break I’ll keep at it because I love my daughter. It’s not the first concession I’ve made and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

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I think I’ve been accosted by this very woman on Facebook. I hope her husband likes to jerk off.

The fact is that I’ve really sacrificed quite a lot for my Darcy. Before I became a stay at home father I had a career in public relations and marketing in the financial services industry that was precisely as exciting as it sounds. Turnover was high, pay was largely theoretical and I was a marginal employee at best. The job however had one benefit which was the opportunity to leave my home for nine or ten hours at a stretch and think about something other than my duties as a husband and a father.

As a stay at home father that particular luxury has passed like so many pieces of corn through a young child’s bowels. I’ve gained quite a bit in return but, because I’m a petty and bitter man, I’d rather not focus on them for the time being.

Yes I’ve given up quite a lot for the sake of my daughter. Sleep was the first sacrifice that comes to mind. My closed door policy when it comes to bowel movements was another. Overcoming my distaste of large crowds, small children and dressing up in costumes are just a few of the other concessions I’ve made for the sake of my daughter’s well being and amusement.

I’ve actively discouraged her from doing so but Darcy seems hell-bent upon taking part in after school activities. Aside from the fact that I don’t much care for driving after 4:00 in the afternoon I’ve got a few other issues. Take Girls Scouts for example. Sure it seems cute but the Hitler Youth probably did too back in the day. Gymnastics seems great at first but most female Olympiads don’t have a period until they’re in their 20s.

Swim team? Those suits don’t leave much to the imagination and CPR classes are also just gross. Let’s face it. If you can’t even manage to eat a piece of steak without choking them maybe you shouldn’t be contributing to the gene pool.

I’ve been roped into a lot of activities for the sake of my daughter and I’m really, just a bit, bitter about it. I used to sleep until noon on Sunday. Now I wake up at ten and pay some guy $30 an hour to convince my daughter to put her head in the water while I stew at the local indoor pool for two hours. Every Wednesday I’m afforded the privilege of spending an hour in a gym that reeks of athletes foot, forced enthusiasm and broken dreams to see Darcy hop up and down on a trampoline or fall off of a balance bar.

A few months ago I ironed 60 patches onto fifteen different Girl Scout uniforms. I didn’t volunteer for the activity because I’m not a masochist. Unfortunately my wife didn’t get the memo and signed me up. Did I complain and bitch and moan about the duty? By God yes I did and there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I don’t remind my wife of the selfless act I performed.

Of course I never did so within earshot of my daughter. I even gave the task my best shot but not having ironed anything for over a decade the results were…mixed. About half of the patches were falling off of Darcy’s vest by her first meeting and one of them might have been a patch about sewing which I took some ironic pleasure in screwing up.

I could have rectified the situation and spent a few hundred hours sewing on patches to Darcy’s vest but I decided that it wasn’t in my daughter’s best interests. Life, after all, is inherently disappointing and it was high time that Darcy understood that fact. The upside is that I won’t be asked to adhere patches on my daughter’s Girl Scout vest until The Rapture. The downside is that…well now that I think about it there is no downside unless it involves my daughter’s faith in her father’s capabilities.

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I dressed up as Puff the Bummed Out Dragon last year for Halloween for the sake of my daughter’s happiness. Note the dead look in my eyes and my desire to light that cigarette.

I may have mentioned that I do a lot for the sake of my daughter but there’s a lot I don’t do particularly well. I’ve already mentioned that I’m horrible at “play pretend” and board games. Bathing my daughter on a regular basis comes to mind. Cutting sandwiches the “right” way into triangles instead of squares is another issue my daughter will inevitably give legions of therapists the ability to send their own children college through my incompetence.

Raising a child, it turns out, is a lot like having sex for the first time. There’s a lot of instruction involved, a slap on the head every once in a while, an undue amount of moaning and at the end of the day a reasonable chance that everyone involved is going to be disappointed.

To be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way…well maybe I’d have it be a little different, particularly with the moaning part. I also don’t like being slapped on the head during coitus but those are issues for another time.

I take solace in the thought that, at some point in the not so distant future, my daughter may have a child of her own. I certainly hope she does and not just because I’m a vindictive man.

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