Published on November 2nd, 2017 | by Richard Black1
My Gift to the World
I never truly understood what a gift I was providing the world when I became a parent. I’m not referring to my daughter who is also a boon to the human race. Darcy is a delightful child and bright, inquisitive, thoughtful and most of the things I am not.
Over the past seven years as a parent I’ve come to understand that my primary benefit to society is as a cautionary tale; an opportunity for others to take pause and then do pretty much the exact opposite of whatever it is that I’ve just done. Parenthood is hard and if my life has been any example then I’ve been hell bent on making it harder. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t show my fellow parents that not all of us are perfect and prospective parents that this gig isn’t for everyone.
A few weeks ago I was herding five second grade kids down a path at the local botanical garden with the usual dignity and patience I bring to school field trips. The first two kids were arguing about which one was going to be Evie for Halloween. The third was chasing the fourth with a stick rubbed in bird shit and the fifth kid was eating rose petals or what I fervently hoped were rose petals.
I begged. I pleaded. I wished for a few sets of leg irons or even a good length of rope and then well…I lost my shit. I don’t recall exactly what I’d said but it had a profound effect upon the children in that they all ignored me and continued challenging their immune systems and general wellbeing.
A number of young couples passed by during my outburst. A few giggled and presumably whispered something to each other about “how cute kids were” before going home to cut each other or watch Gilmore Girls” or perform some other act of masochism.
Most, however, gave us a wide berth and walked quickly past in an uncomfortable silence as if they were running through a giant fart which, in all honesty, they may have been. I can’t say for certain but I’m willing to bet that most of them didn’t go home and have unprotected sex or, probably, sex of any kind for a good month or two and maybe even ever again.
There’s no need for thanks. It’s just one of the many services I provide my fellow men and women. In addition to killing libidos I also make existing parents feel better about their lives. A few years ago when my daughter was two and only slightly ambulatory I came across a young mother in a grocery store. She was pushing a cart with two young boys in tow and clearly reconsidering her life decisions as both of them ran through the aisles like coked up spider monkeys looking for their next fix.
If memory serves one of them had just licked a shelf in the frozen food section on a dare and was stuck fast while his older brother, who thought he was missing out on all the fun, did the exact same thing. I nodded in sympathy. She rubbed her temples, waited for a manager to bring a cup of hot water and just as her boys’ whimpers were turning into screams my daughter picked a dried pea off of the floor and jammed it into her nose.
For someone who was certain that poking a pea in her nose seemed like a pretty good idea Darcy was clearly having second thoughts. She huffed and wailed and I spent a good two minutes trying to teach a frenetic toddler how to blow her nose which, it turns out, isn’t an instinctive act. I begged. I pleaded. I even mimicked blowing my own nose and inadvertently shot a glob of my own snot onto the grocery store floor. Darcy, however, was too wound up to take instruction and out of desperation I poked her in the sternum sending a gust of breath out of her nose which finally dislodged the pea.
I’ve rarely been more proud of my abilities as a parent. The young mother’s boys had just been freed from the surly bonds of the freezer shelf. My daughter’s nasal cavities were free and clear. Having witnessed each other’s special parenting failures the young mother and I both rolled our eyes in sympathy and then parted ways never to meet again.
Raising children is a tough job and one that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Sure kids are cute and sweet and lovable but they also have the survival instincts of horny lemmings and sometimes the best a parent can hope for is that they don’t end up in the ER.
It takes a superhuman effort to raise a child and that makes me think that I’m…well not a superhero but something pretty close although I don’t wear tights. It’s not an easy job but someone has to do it.
…and so from this day forth let it be known that wherever there is a harried and young mother who can’t get her toddler to eat strained carrots I will be there begging my daughter to eat a chicken nugget or just a few French fries.
Whenever a father gives his son Benedryl because he might be sick but the old man is also really tired I will be there.
Whenever parents mutter “What in the fuck is that kid thinking” after their kids lick a toilet I will be there but only in spirit. After all I’ve got my own problems to deal with.