The adventures (and non-adventures) of a marginally seasoned attorney.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Guest Post: Things non-parents say to parents that are fine with me

Yesterday, I posted a non-parent's response to the Scary Mommy blog post "13 Things Non-Parents Should Never Say to Parents." Today, my friend Caleb presents a dad's response. A point/counterpoint, if you will.

Take it away, Caleb:

Parents drive me crazy.  More specifically, blogging parents drive me crazy.  That isn’t to say there aren’t some great parent blogs out there, but when your blog is titled “Scary Mommy” I feel you might be the kind of parent that avoid play dates with.  Additionally, I have two kids – boys, 9 and 4.  I would likely drive myself crazy with my ramblings as well.

This particular entry is neither original, as we’ve seen different iterations of this list countless times in the blogosphere, nor is it an actual portrayal of the attitudes of many (dare I say most) parents.  Since Cupcakes gave us the non-parent response, I wish to give the male parent response.  I hope somebody will give the female parent response as well. 

*disclaimer: I love my kids very much even though a few of my counter points may not sound like it.  Seriously, love them. 

1. Ugh. No way. I don't want to have kids. Like, ever. – Good.  Don’t. Or, do.  You’re choice. If you do have kids, at least remove your rose colored glasses in advance.  I had a friend once who was about a month away from his first being born.  He gave me the normal “I can’t wait…greatest experience…love somebody more than you can ever imagine…blah blah blah sappy sappy blah.” I responded that he’s crazy and he’s about to finally have a deeper understanding of how self-absorbed he really is because the arrival of children is the greatest exposure of personal selfishness ever crafted by nature.

2. What do you mean you haven't seen that movie/heard that song/checked out that new TV series yet? – Frankly, if I haven’t heard of it, it probably sucks anyway.  True, I watch/listen less than I used to, so if I’m going to spend the time on it, then it is going to be really good.  So, actually, I advise non-parents to ask this question to parents often because I think we are actually a pretty good litmus test to measure the quality.

3. You never call anymore. – Take the hint.  Kidding.  Well…..  Truth be told, I wasn’t good at calling you before kids. I can’t blame that on my kids.  That’s just me not being a good friend, and I’m guilty as charged.  My bad.  Oh, and your phone dials out too.

4. We're having a picnic in our backyard, but it's strictly for adults. – The blog mentioned that outdoor events “are things kids could barely screw up even if they tried.” Ha! Are you kidding?! My kids go so far as to screw up their own birthday parties. Please, half the time they aren’t even invited into our own house.  I get it. In fact, this might be the least offensive comment on the list.  Thanks for inviting me, actually, as now we’ve got a chance to get away from the kids.

5. We're thinking about having a baby, so we're getting a puppy first to see if we can handle the job. – Oh, don’t do that.  If you decide that you can handle the job then you’ve just ended up with a dog and a kid. It’s backwards.  Wait on the puppy.  Wait until the kid is old enough to scoop the poop from the yard. 

Sidebar: the idea seems to come across in the original blog that parents are wiser than non-parents.  In some cases, we do have infinite amounts of wisdom, which is why I think these comments aren’t offensive at all, but offer us a chance to throw up some warning flares.  Seriously, though, kid first, dog second.

6. You're not going to start buying mom jeans now, are you? – That just sounds like a non-parent friend looking out for a parent friend. 

7. It must be so relaxing to be at home all day with the kids. – I will disagree with Cupcakes here and say that staying at home with your kids all day is not a luxury. Child-care is the new college tuition and for many parents it actually makes more sense to stay at home and save on child-care than it does to work, particularly with parents of two or more children under the age of five. There was a year where I was paying more in childcare than I was on my mortgage.  It’s rough. Additionally, staying at home all day with my kids every single day would be my personal hell.

8. Don't be so lame! You're kid-free tonight! Light weight... – Drink if you want to drink, don’t if you don’t.  Same with kids, make your choice.  However, if you say this line to me then you’ve just guaranteed that we’re going to get into some shenanigans and the cops may or may not get involved.  That’s not offensive as much as it is a dare.

9. That kid is OUT OF CONTROL! – Yeah, Cupcakes and I may not agree on stay at home parents being a luxury, but we’re on point here.  Seriously, take that out to the parking lot. I either 1) left my kid at home because I know how they will act/react in certain situations or 2) have my kid behaving like a perfect little angel, so I don’t think it is too much to ask you to get your kid in check either.

10. Try to be here on time. – I can’t imagine a non-parent ever saying this to me.  Maybe its just my friends.  If I’ve gone through the trouble of getting a sitter and I have to be home at 11:00, then I promise you I’ll be punctual to whatever it is we’re doing because I’ve got a meter running.  Quite the opposite, actually.  My friends are the type that are “fashionably late” and it drives me crazy.  While they may be able to party until morning, I’ve got deadlines. 

11. I didn't invite you because you never say yes. – That’s funny.  The only reason this would be said to me is if I first asked “why wasn’t I invited?” I’m always invited.  See: Number 8.

12. You look tired. Are you doing okay? – This one is tough actually.  Truth is we are really tired.  Truth is also that at times we aren’t doing okay.  Ask this question only if you really care about the answer, have coffee, and have time to sit and listen.  More people should ask this, actually.

13. Well when I have kids, I'm gonna ____, and my kids will never ______, and the rules will be ________. – We all said it.  All future parents are going to say it too.  This isn’t offensive at all.  In fact, this is the one where all of the current parents nod and say “that’s nice” and laugh hysterically in our heads because we all know how this one plays out. 

People parent differently because people are different.  The dynamics between parents and non-parent friends can be challenging because priorities have to shift if you’re going to be any good at it.  That doesn’t mean that one person’s life is better than the other, or that your friend doesn’t need you anymore or vice versa.  It just requires a shift in your relationships as well and that’s okay.  Nobody needs to write an angry blog about it.  There really isn’t a war between the two breeds as much as the Scary Mommy blog would have you believe.  At least, if there is there shouldn’t be.  Grab that cup of coffee and ask each other how you are doing.

I apologize if some of the thoughts were jumbled or off the mark.  I haven’t thought straight in 9 years.

Caleb Coats hails from the mighty city of Green Forest, Arkansas, and now lives in Colorado with his wife and two kids. The first time Cupcakes drove a car, it was Caleb's, and she almost drove it into the side of a church. She's not sure if he knew about that or not.


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