two-face and smiling darkside

September 7, 2019

9:01 am

They walk by without saying good morning, even if I’ve said it first. They sit in front of the TV, a tablet, their phone and let the dog or cat eat from their abandoned cereal or snack bowl. Hey…wait a minute. When did they start eating on the couch?

There are clothes and bath towels piled high on the bathroom floor. Bookbags, lunch bags, and backpacks on the dining room floor. Toys, books, shoes, headphones, and stuffed animals on the staircase.

In short, there’s stuff everywhere. Every single day. It gets picked up. Eventually. Usually after three times of asking, two times telling, then finally a shout.

“Kids, it’s time to get this placed cleaned up!”

Then come the groans. The moans.

The teenage one—two-face, I like to call him because I never know what kid I’m going to get—he’s the smartest kid in the world. Just ask him. He’s so smart that he cannot stop himself from responding to me and my wife with smartassed comments. Sometimes he’s so smart with his responses that he takes us down long, twisty confusing rabbit holes. Just this week, asking him to stop stomping around the house when he’s simply walking from room to room led to his broken explanation of my alignment with forces involved in the oppression of the disenfranchised. I took his phone away. Then mine went missing. I was afraid to ask him if he’d taken it because I could have very well left it anywhere. I found it the next day, on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. I want to say it was him, but I’m not sure.

The ten-year old—smiling darkside, I like to call her (but definitely not to her face)—scares me sometimes. Cute and bubbly on the surface, she’s ready with wit that cuts, bites, and slices so quickly that I’m never sure what’s just happened. Did she just say that? I’ll ask my wife as my little princess runs up to her room and slams the door. I follow her up sometimes and stand outside her door. I think about barging in, but I’m pretty sure I’d see her fashioning a shank or stabbing a voodoo doll with pins. One that looks like me.

Raising kids ain’t easy. If you say it is, you’re probably not a good parent. Well, maybe you THINK you’re a good parent, but you are probably one of the people that cut me off in line while dropping off my kids at school. Or you’re in one of the NO PARKING spots. Or better yet, you’re so much better than everyone else, you make your own spot. Showing your kids how it’s okay to be impatient, stupid, a bully. I realize we don’t have to look far to see this kind of behavior—just look at the so-called leaders of this world—but keep in mind, you have taken on one of the most important roles there have ever been. Being Mom. Being Dad. None of us are perfect. Our kids aren’t perfect. And striving for perfection is senseless.

Does it bother me that my kids don’t always listen? That they don’t always pick up after themselves? That at times I think they have somehow subverted power and are actually in control? Certainly. But this back and forth, this everyday routine of never knowing what you’re going to get except for stuff strewn about the house is incredible, moving, and I can never ask for more.

Do good today. Spend time with your family.

~ KJ


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