My father used to tell me ridiculously inaccurate “factoids” when I was a kid. When the mood striketh him, he told me stuff like: the Native Americans built the Statue of Liberty to scare white people away from their land; that people had four toes because a powerful earthquake can fuse two random toes together; and that those huge white windmills on the hills were actually depressed airplane propellers that did not get to live out their dreams of being part of a plane. (He also told me that communism was the world’s worst evil, but I don’t think he was joking with that one.)
Despite this informal schooling based on my father’s sheer boredom, I still turned out pretty normal, yeah? Sure I used to wet my bed every day until I was 19, but according to the American Psychiatric Association, I am what you consider “normal,” with only a few maladjustments dealing with the male gender (pssh, whatever that means). Thus, I’m confident that I can raise some decent babies because what the hell, how hard can it be? Just feed those bastards popcorn everyday for like 18 years and boom, you got yourself a second form of income.
First, it’s okay to be disappointed. In my quest to live with the guilt of incessantly letting down my parents, I have a motto: Parents are supposed to be disappointed in you; the day they cease to be is the day they cease becoming parents.
In my case, I’d be pretty sad if my kid wasn’t terribly interesting or witty. Not to say that I am myself, but if my daughter became a big dull dud, I wouldn’t know what to do. Think how unfortunate it’d be if your kid were someone even you wouldn’t want to be friends with at that age. What if I avoided those important mother-daughter talks not because discussing about dating and men is awkward to me, but because talking to Eliza (that’ll be her name by the way, don’t steal it) will just bore me to tears?
How could I make her more interesting? Should I let her join the circus, or abandon her at the zoo for a couple of hours just to give her a good story to tell at future cocktail parties? More importantly, am I going to get in trouble with child services for even thinking these thoughts?
At the expense of a good laugh, it’s okay to give your kids wrong information sometimes. For this, I thank my father’s miseducation of me, but who could blame him? It’s too much fun (wrongly) molding a child’s brain. For instance, I am determined to teach my kids the wrong names of colors just so when they grow up, they’ll always have a difficult time registering that yellow is called yellow and is not actually blue. I mean, they’ll see the same shades as everybody else, but they just have to take an inordinate amount of time saying it right because they were taught wrong by me, teehee! And don’t even get me started on that multiplication table – or as my children will come to know it as the “multiplication musical chairs of backwards long division.“
Be supportive. My friend Trung and I were talking about how the proverbial envelope could be pushed any farther when we got to be thirty. While I contemplated how much sexier female pop stars could possibly get or how much more offensive rap music could become if they really tried, Trung was considering how things in the sex and relationships department could shock us as parents.
He wondered how he’d have to handle his teenage daughter being a fervent advocate of furry fandom, for example. Basically, furrydom is an affinity toward what Wikipedia defines as “anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics” (it doesn’t have to be a sexual fetish, but it often develops into one). Now he has to deal with the fact that his kid volunteered to be the school’s mascot not because she had so much spirit, but because it actually got her jollies off.
And what about my kid? What if my son turns out to be a necrophiliac and one day falls in love with and wants to marry a corpse? Do I have to meet its parents and have the corpse over for Thanksgiving? Is it wrong to brag about my son since their kid sort of lost the whole “game of life” thing? (“Oh that’s nice that your son is a doctor, my Judy wanted to be one too but she can’t because, well you know … she’s dead.“) What about the wedding rehearsal dinner? Do we just put the corpse in the coffin or tie it up with string and pull a Weekend at Bernie’s? And what if the corpse is a guy and my husband is more bothered by the fact that our son is a homosexual than a necrophiliac? Damn, do you think they teach this shit in Lamaze classes?!
LYNN LA genuinely wants to thank her parents for not screwing her up too badly and for giving her a mildly enjoyable, yet thoroughly neurotic, childhood. To thank your parents in a completely unemotional and detached manner, e-mail them and then Cc: it to firstname.lastname@example.org.