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

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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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Things self-important parents should never tell non-parents not to say to parents

One of my least favorite things the internet has brought about is the self-important parent. The self-important parent claims moral superiority over other parents and ESPECIALLY over those horrible subhumans known as non-parents.  Non-parents aren't allowed to have opinions about kids or whether they should have them, and they definitely aren't allowed to think that your kid who is screaming loudly indoors about some injustice like broccoli could be better behaved. That's because when you give birth, the mommy fairy comes and blesses the self-important parent with infinite knowledge that non-parents will never be able to acquire, bless their hearts.

The self-important parent also feels that they are chronically oppressed. Nevermind that as a thirty-year-old southern Christian woman without children, I'm in the minority and made well aware of the social implications of being childless every day, but hey, what do I know? I haven't been blessed by the mommy fairy's infinite knowledge.

Anywayyyy... Against my better judgment, I clicked on a link called "Things Non-Parents Should Never Say to Parents," a commentary to scold those naughty non-parents who clearly are telling you these things because they are selfish, heartless human beings who can never know the plight of the self-important parent. As a non-parent, I'd like to address each of these statements that I'm not allowed to say to self-important parents:

1. Ugh. No way. I don't want to have kids. Like, ever. - Some people who don't have kids want to have kids someday. Some people never want to have kids. Either is okay. Why do you care about a person's personal choice? I think that says more about you than them.

2. What do you mean you haven't seen that movie/heard that song/checked out that new TV series yet? - You'd probably find it even more offensive if I assumed you were completely disconnected from everything, so this one is a lose-lose for the naughty non-parents.

3. You never call anymore. - If you're honestly telling me that you can't set aside 10 minutes every two weeks to call a friend - or even multitask during those 10 minutes every two weeks - then I don't know why ANYONE would want to have kids. I'm sure that raising a very young child is hard, but there comes a point when I don't believe that excuse anymore.

4. We're having a picnic in our backyard, but it's strictly for adults. - If a host doesn't want kids at their house, then they shouldn't be forced to have your kids there. Your friend will understand if you don't come, but don't be a jerk about it because they'll stop inviting you altogether.

5. We're thinking about having a baby, so we're getting a puppy first to see if we can handle the job. - I don't think anyone actually thinks they are the same. But if they do, to each their own. Most people don't know what they're doing when they first have a kid, let's be honest, but the human race has managed to survive.

6. You're not going to start buying mom jeans now, are you? I've never heard anyone say this to anyone ever. But seriously, don't buy mom jeans.

7. It must be so relaxing to be at home all day with the kids. - A lot of people would love to have the luxury to be a stay-at-home parent - and yes, it is a luxury.

8. Don't be so lame! You're kid-free tonight! Light weight... - Your non-parent friends were nice enough to invite you out even though you've made it clear that you think they are heartless horrible subhumans, so cut 'em a break. But seriously, I have many parent friends who stay out late every now and then and are also awesome parents, so it's not immoral of me to ask you to get another drink. 

9. That kid is OUT OF CONTROL! - Well, he is.

10. Try to be here on time. - I think an episode of Friends sums this up the best. Ross tells Rachel they need to leave for the movies at a certain time. She yells "NO! Why do we always have to be on your schedule?" To which Ross replies "It's not my schedule, it's the theater's schedule." Sometimes things require us to be on someone else's schedule - and many times, that is not your child's schedule.

11. I didn't invite you because you never say yes. - I'm lying. I didn't invite you because you told me you didn't even have time to talk to me on the phone.

12. You look tired. Are you doing okay? - HOW DARE YOU ASK ME HOW I'M DOING YOU NAUGHTY NON-PARENT! 

13. Well when I have kids, I'm gonna ____, and my kids will never ______, and the rules will be ________. - Let me fill in the blanks, gal who wrote the original post. When I have kids, I'm gonna be respectful of my friends who choose not to have kids, and my kids will never be used as a reason for me to claim moral superiority, and the rules will probably change over time, but I want my kids to learn how to be kind while still sticking up for themselves. Cool? Cool.