If what they tell me is true, many Creative Loafing readers are just beginning their parenting adventures. The sort of parent who typically reads the paper has a child (or children) somewhere between toddler and elementary school age, and they look to us to help them make choices about where to go and what to do in the hilarious belief they can still squeeze in some grown-up time out on the town.
The very thought of their naïveté makes me giggle. Young parents harbor the misconception that they still have a life to call their own. It's one of many mistaken beliefs that their little money-sucking balls of love will soon obliterate.
I know this because I've gone through it. I have a daughter, 18, about to start life away at college. And since I've been through this raising-a-kid thing, I thought I'd share with the young parents (and those thinking about becoming young parents) the many ways in which your child will not turn out as you expect.
Despite your best efforts, your child will curse like a pikey.
My daughter is so much better than me, in so many ways, it's sometimes hard to believe that she is my offspring. She attended not one but two churches (one a nondenominational youth group, the other the country's largest gay church, just because). She has completed Christ knows how many mission trips. But now that she's ostensibly "adult," I can see the appreciation for the malleable comedic brilliance of swear words creeping in. It begins with the accidental "damn." I give her a look. She says sorry. A few months later, she throws out "hell." Then she starts hashtagging tweets with #growapair. I know this road. It ends with her proclaiming loudly to her friends that her enchilada casserole is "the motherfucking TITS," because that's just objectively funny.
Despite your best efforts, your child will love horrible music, television, and movies.
I have many friends with excellent taste in pop culture. Invariably, they tell me things like, "I know he's only 7, but [name redacted] loves the Jayhawks." (That's an actual quote.) Or, "I know she's only 12, but [name redacted] loves Woody Allen movies." Let's ignore for a minute that, if you really want to treat your little one like a grown-up, you should load her iTunes with Morbid Angel or make him sit through the "Louie" forced-cunnilingus episode. (Why go halfway?) Let's instead point out that your kids will stop placating you as soon as their friends' opinions become more important than yours. This happens shortly after they get the crap kicked out them (literally or figuratively) at school for announcing that they loved Midnight in Paris.
Kids can fall in love with old quality works of pop culture. They just have to discover it themselves. My daughter is a huge fan of the original "Star Trek," my favorite show growing up. Why? I left an episode on the DVR. Weeks later, bored, she watched it. Within days, she Facebooked about her crush on Anton Yelchin's Pavel Chekov. Which is its own problem.
Despite your best efforts, your kid will have a libido.
I have a very close friend, female, who is an excellent mother. She is in the business of creating memories. Every day is planned with activities, her kids go to public schools so they can enjoy the rich diversity of her neighborhood, and so forth. Her children, one boy and one girl, are bright and fun and respectful. The one thing she denies them — besides sugar, because she's kind of a food Nazi, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing — is kissing. I don't mean just kissing other young boys and girls. I mean images of people kissing. Couples kissing on the television. If it involves smooching, it's off-limits. Sure, they can give Mom some night-night kisses, but any kiss that carries with it the hint that a tongue may soon come to life and attack — not for their viewing pleasure.
I understand this. To think of your child as a sexual being is just awful. But you can't stop it. I remember the 17-year-old daughter of a friend who loudly asked me during a dinner party, "What's a libido? Mom won't tell me!" (Obviously before teens had Google at their fingertips every waking minute.) Now I've had to ban myself from that young woman's Facebook page, because the things she's doing with the boys in her state shouldn't be so public. What I'm saying is, understand they will develop this way. Treat it like the French do wine: It's not taboo, so they don't spend their 20s binge drinking, if you know what I mean.
Me, I'm lucky. My daughter's never even kissed a boy. Far as I know. And I know all I need to. She's sweet and she loves me and Jesus and Radiohead and that's all I need to know.
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