The 5 things I hate the most about being a parent
Monday was one of those days you do things as a parent you don't like. Atticus recently had his 2 year checkup and I had to take him to a lab for blood work. Trying to explain to a 2 year old that he needs to let a strange woman stick a needle in his arm and sit still while he bleeds into tubes is not easy. He made it through it just fine, with me holding him in a bear hug as instructed while one woman held his arm down in two places and another woman drew the necessary blood. I guess he understood more than I thought because when the time came he was crying but he never moved an inch. And he stopped crying immediately once it was done. He's growing up.
So it got me thinking about the bad parts of being a parent. We all share them but we don't speak of them too often. I will. Here are my top 5.
5. Medical appointments like the one on Monday. When they're so little and just don't understand why you're letting someone stick needles in their bodies. How do you explain Polio to a 6 month old or blood tests to a 2 year old? Or the time my daughter was 2 and needed eye surgery. This was in Michigan, and I was very surprised that they wanted me to get in scrubs and walk her in to the operating room. I guess due to her age they felt it would make her calmer? Anyway, she knew in concept she was having something called an operation on her eyes. She never showed an ounce of nervousness until those O.R. doors swung open and I walked her inside. It was even unsettling for a grownup. Incredibly bright lights and stainless steel everywhere, with things looking strange and foreign all around. I felt her immediately stiffen up. I had to sit her on a gurney and was with her while two nurses attempted putting a mask over her mouth that would deliver the gas to put her to sleep. She began panicking at the mask and they attempted to sweet talk her to no avail. This was right around the holidays and there was a song that had become her favorite. I will never forget the moment when I asked the nurses to stop talking (it was only making her panic more) and I said, "Sweetie, just look at me. Look at Daddy." She did, and with our eyes locked I began singing, "Have a holly jolly Christmas, it's the best time of the year, oh by golly have a holly jolly Christmas this year..." As I sang to her the panic left her face, she visibly exhaled and started smiling. I could see that smile through the mask, and within seconds as she breathed in her eyes closed and she was soon under. I then was told I had to leave and I walked out of there and just began crying hoping she wouldn't have a bad reaction to the anesthesia which she had never been under before. Of course she was fine, but it was your typical you never know moment.
4. Having to punish them. Our job is to help them grow into solid, responsible adults. It sucks when doing that means punishing them or letting them fall on their faces sometimes. Last year my son was in 6th grade and he had been going through a phase of not paying close enough attention to following through on school projects. One morning after being reminded to bring a project due that day with him on the bus, I turned around after he left to see it sitting on our dining room table. I would have been able to get his baby brother in a car seat and grab the project and run it over to his school, explain at the main office, have someone bring it to him or him come and get it. But I didn't. And that was hard. Because this was starting to become a habit I wanted him to suffer the consequences of forgetfulness. I wanted to teach him a lesson. I left it there on the table and let him handle whatever came of it. This was actually a point of conversation on our show. I'm glad I did it. He's been more responsible ever since. My daughter recently did something that she had to be punished for. Not because we hate her, but because we love her. We want her to grow up as the best person she can be. It's our job as her parents to do that, and Aubree and I hate these times but we know it's necessary to get through to her.
3. Seeing someone hurt them needlessly. The older ones are getting to those ages of being interested in the opposite sex. It's amazing how young some people learn to be drama queens and game players. My wife says she sees this all the time at the middle school where she teaches. We will all get hurt in life. We make sure our kids know that and to expect it. Not everything is going to go your way including in relationships. But when people go out of their way to set your kids up to hurt them needlessly that's bad at any age.
2. Seeing them afraid. Good parents make kids face their fears. But it still isn't easy seeing it. Whether it's making them get right back in a game after they were injured and are still bleeding or having them face their first day in a new school when they switched districts mid-year and know absolutely no one, I've made my kids face what scares them. But man it's tough knowing exactly what they're feeling and standing by stoically telling them to just go do it. It makes them better, but we're all lying if we say it's easy.
1. Having them leave us. I have primary custody of my two oldest children. Since they were 6 and 4 I say goodbye to them every June when they leave for the whole summer for visitation with their mother. It's never easy. In certain years two and a half months means they are quite different when they come back. In every year it means the house is that much quieter, their rooms sit empty, and my heart hurts a little. I guess it's a good dress rehearsal though for them growing up and moving out. I'll experience it one day. It's good they spend time with their biological mother. It's good that they grow up. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if they didn't. Ultimately, as Jerry Seinfeld joked, they're here to replace us. Which then makes me think about something my father said to his cousin days before he died. She told shared it with me at his funeral. He was telling her he was sad about dying and she asked what he would miss most. He told her, "No being able to talk with my boys." As sad as it always is for them to leave us every year, I guess the saddest and hardest part of being a parent will be leaving them.
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