Friends, I have a new hero. He’s the star of one of the most amazing stories I think I’ve ever heard, told to me recently by my friend, Erin. So settle in, maybe pour yourself a glass of sherry (who drinks sherry?). You’re really going to enjoy this one.
THE MOST AMAZING STORY EVER
Then the wrecking crew came in. A tattered, wits-end-looking couple and their two little terrors, trailing a veritable monster truck rally of plastic vehicles. Which they proceeded to race around, bumping into other patrons and causing a general ruckus. Meanwhile, the parents sat enjoying their breakfast in a dreamlike state of oblivion.
Erin’s dad gathered up his things, dragged a chair right up to the parents’ table, sat down, and returned to reading his paper. The following exchange then took place:
Parents: “Um, hello?”
Erin’s Dad: [Folds the paper down to get a look at them. Smiles.] “Morning!” [Folds paper back up.]
Parents: “This is our table.”
Erin’s Dad: “Oh, I know.”
Parents: “Then what are you doing here?”
Erin’s Dad: [Folds up paper slowly for maximum dramatic impact. Sets paper down. Leans in conspiratorially. Lowers voice.] “You know, it’s the weirdest thing – there’s these two little shits running around, wreaking havoc through this entire restaurant. Slamming into people with their toys. Yelling, screaming. But oddly enough, this seems to be the one table they’re not bothering. So I thought I’d take shelter and join you.” [Wink.]
Wow. I want to be Erin’s dad when I grow up. And I must say, I admire the creativity of his approach – it even earned him (allegedly) a round of applause upon the offending family’s departure. Me? I’m generally fond of the withering stare to the parents, then a quick glance over to the kids in question (just so we’re all on the same page with what this withering stare is about). But in the shadow of such a heroic story, this just seems like the coward’s way out.
My husband Drew goes straight to the source. He’s a magnet for kids with wheeled toys when we’re out and about, and they’re perpetually running over his feet. He’ll lean down, get right in their grill, and shout “Watch it!” directly at the kid – no matter the age. He’s a strong believer that confronting parents is pointless. If they had any sense, they’d have been embarrassed by their kids’ behavior ages ago. But yelling at the kid just might scare some manners into them. Hell, it scares me.
So what do you guys think? What’s the best way to fight bad behavior in public? Confronting the parents, or the little perps themselves? Or just being a straight-up badass like Erin’s dad?
PS, if you have any stories of heroism against bad parenting, send them my way – I just might have to start a page on this.
PPS, I just threw my hat into the ring for the Blogger’s Choice Awards - if you’d like to throw me a vote, go here.
Ahh, remember the good old days where you could smash someone’s heart or declare your undying love, based solely on the Cosmo “Are You Compatible or Not” quiz? Yeah, being 29 was fun.
Well, moving on, we’re grown-ups now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still rely on quizzes to make major life decisions. Rather than borrow one of these professionally assembled exams from a low-rung editorial assistant, I thought I’d draft up one of my own. Full of the questions I think are REALLY important when assessing your potential parental fitness.
After all, everyone is always carrying on about what an excruciating challenge raising kids is, how it’s the most important job in the world. I couldn’t agree more! Parents and teachers might be the only things standing between us a planet full of jerks. So why are so many people allowed to enter into it with absolutely no qualifications?
Quite frankly, I’m not sure every potential parent is up to the challenge. In fact, in cases of accidental pregnancies, we have some pretty clear evidence of poor planning, an inability to evaluate consequences, and weak impulse control. These are the people raising the next generation? No wonder IKEA is such a nightmare on Saturdays. [I’m just kidding, Oops Baby Parents – and I’m pretty sure half of us wouldn’t be walking around without you.]
Well I, for one, am tired of this laissez-faire attitude towards admitting just any old crackpot into the parenting club. So I’m demanding that all you readers pass the Maybe Baby, Maybe NOT quiz before moving forward with your family planning. So limber up, crack your knuckles, take a shot – whatever you do to get into peak mental form – and click the new Quiz Time! tab at the top to get started.
Good luck – you’re gonna need it!
[Please don’t ask me what my own score was. Thanks.]
Do people have kids because they’re bored? Drew and I had one of those didn’t-leave-the-house-during-daylight-hours Saturdays this weekend. You know the one. Nothing sounds good. Do you wanna…play Scrabble? No. Run on the beach? No. Complete an adult science fair project? No. Wait, what?
I couldn’t help thinking how nice it would be to never have to have the do you wanna conversation again. And when you’ve got kids, there’s no more wanna, only hafta. Hafta get them to soccer practice, hafta slather them in peanut butter to get the gum out of their hair, etc. Sure, some of those activities suck, but at least your thumb-twiddling days are over – you have a pre-defined purpose for your days and nights.
Now it’s my first Monday as a highly under-employed Lady of Leisure, and I’m terrified that I’m going to be crawling the walls soon. Having more free time sounded great, in theory. And I plan on taking advantage of it – figuring out how to pronounce (and do) Bikram yoga, flossing at the frequency recommended by my dentist, etc. But too much free time can also be a curse. It leads to things like watching Breaking Bad – The Complete First Season in one sitting (sorry, Jen, you’ve been outed), or loading your cats into the double-stroller for a spin around the neighborhood.
Is my fear of too much free time (these pointless cave-dwelling Saturdays) going to sway my decision about having a baby? I have to question myself. Because I’ve come up with some truly embarrassing reasons over the years of why having a baby sounds like a good idea:
- Would like an excuse to eat like a wild pig
- Once transformation to total pigginess is complete, would like to be showered with false compliments on Facebook about my “glow”
- Could win $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos if one of the cats snags a diaper and gets squashed by a fallen baby (check out this video, minute 1:09)
- Would like to wear sweatpants posing as jeans, and still be accepted into society
- Could someday buy family-sized bags of Fritos without getting judgmental stare from store clerk
- Saving a failed marriage (yes, let’s add sleep deprivation and a loss of financial stability into the mix!)
- Wanting someone to take care of you in your old age (strangers vs. family for changing my adult diaper? I vote stranger.)
- Wondering how good-looking the kid would be (try the What Will My Baby Look Like Generator instead – it’s free, and you can just delete the fictitious baby if it starts crying)
- Having someone to love you unconditionally (except when they’re teenagers and hate you with a burning, seething passion for not purchasing the correct brand of skinny jeans)
So where does “being bored” fall on this continuum? Is it a seemingly bad reason wrapped around a good-underneath reason like “I want something more worthwhile to fill my days”? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m looking too closely.
There are probably worse reasons to have a baby. If you have suggestions, send ‘em my way through a Comment – it’s probably time to compile a list. In the meantime, I guess I’ll get back to the new office (funny how I had to quit my job to get one with a window). PS, that’s my new co-worker, Olivia, making a break for it.
Last weekend, I did something shocking. Well, there were a few shocking moments:
- I had dinner with a baby (amongst others).
- Said dinner with baby took place at a somewhat fancy steakhouse. I believe the hostesses were rather shocked as well when we rolled that Fisher-Price monstrosity of plastic into their mahogany and linen world.
- Dinner took place at the ungodly early hour of 6:30, so said baby could get home to sleep.
And finally, most surprising of all…
- After martini #2, I broke my “No Holding Babies While Drinking” rule.
It’s not usually one I need to enforce. I never really have the urge, or I’ve already registered on the parents’ drunk-dar and am kept at bay. But as I get deeper into this Maybe Baby, Maybe Not experiment, I’m realizing that my mind isn’t going to make itself up. The issue must be forced. So I made a grab for that baby – just to see how it felt – and her mom, Elizabeth snapped a photo of us.
Our friend Karen responded with Motherhood suits you, Maybe Lady;)
Yeah? I also look pretty svelt in a magician’s cape. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go flouncing around town in one. (Or does it?!) I look pretty regal on a horse as well, but owning one seems like a cost-prohibitive sort of venture. What I’m trying to say is – we can’t just go round snapping up all the things that suit us or make us look good.
Yes, I know how to hold an infant without its head lolling all over the place. I know how to waggle a rattle in their face to shut them up. I know that trick about soaking their teething rag in whiskey (wait, are people still doing that?). But most importantly, I know I can hand them back to Mom once my moment with Baby is over. If I didn’t, and was working on about 4 hours of sleep and my very last nerve, believe me, you’d be getting a less than polished performance from me on the pseudo mommy front.
Even so, I know these people are right – I probably would make a good mom. And I know for sure that Drew would make an awesome dad. But everyone’s forgetting that being competent at something – or even having an aptitude for it – isn’t the same thing as wanting to do it. I used to be pretty sharp little sketch artist as a kid, but the idea of sitting in front of a canvas by myself all day for a living sounded…well, almost as boring as watching hour upon hour of Baby Einstein – Neighborhood Animals (which, incidentally, HAD to have been developed by someone under the influence of a heavy, heavy narcotic).
It seems to enflame people when someone who would be a good parent chooses not to. I get it. They want us to rear some do-gooders to counteract the rash of bad parenting going on out there – otherwise, the world is going to be in a pretty crappy state of affairs soon. But that doesn’t always work (check out the NY Times article Columbine: Parents of a Killer). So maybe I’ll just focus on managing the chaos that I actually have some control over. For now.
Come to think of it, people are also fond of telling me that I’d make a great mother after seeing me with my cats. Does that make them the creep, or me?
It’s bad out there (economically speaking), it’s two months before our mortgage re-adjusts, I just got promoted at my job that’s 2.5 miles from my house and lets me out at 1:00 on Fridays, and I am, in general, a pretty level-headed, responsible gal. Sounds like a recipe for quitting my job to pursue some half-cocked writing endeavor if ever I heard one.
Dear Reader, I did it.
I spent all of Christmas break (to say nothing of the preceding twelve months) waffling over this decision. Then I woke up, showered, packed my lunch and drove to work like I’ve done over a thousand times before. And as I walked up to the building, I knew I couldn’t pass through those doors one more time, knowing there was somewhere else I should be instead.
What took me so long?
Oh, you know – a little thing called stability. Money. The dream of a California backyard larger than a floppy disk (whoa – did I just date myself?).
But what about our other dreams? Once the fright wears off, we tend to forget that most of the good in our lives came from taking some kind of risk. Like almost everyone else in LA, I wound up here after driving thousands of miles in a crappy Honda to sign on a $1,500/month studio lease with no money, job, prospects or friends. I moved in with my now-husband Drew after knowing him only five months. And scariest of all, this was after meeting him on Myspace (whoa – dating myself again).
Risky business! All well and good for a young, single, California-bound Liz. But when I delivered my news at the office, I was reminded that when you become someone’s mom, it’s not just your future you’re gambling with anymore on these nutty schemes. Most of my co-workers were happy for me, said fluffed-up things like I better get a signed first edition! But a few wretched souls actually grabbed me by the arms, shook me, and said, “Do this now! Do it while you’re still young.”
[Cut-away to wistful look off into the distance.]
“Do it while you don’t have kids.”
C-R-I-P-E-S. Parenthood: where dreams go to die? At the very least, they’re not making a very enticing case for it. One of them even told me she wonders all the time what would have happened if she hadn’t folded on the custom jewelry company she was trying to start when her boys were young and required too much of her time. None of them told me you CAN’T achieve your dreams once you have kids. It just seems to make it infinitely harder.
Some people can do it all – those people are better than me. I read an interview with Sara Gruen once (author of Water for Elephants: A Novel) where she was asked how she was able to finish the book with all the distractions of family life. Her response? She locked herself in a walk-in closet with a pair of foam headphones until it was done.
Sara Gruen, I am not. This infernal novel I’m forever re-writing would wind up in Draft 2 purgatory, indefinitely.
So what’s up with this quitting thing? Am I trying to get my one crazy thing out of the way now, so when the time comes to have kids, I can say that I’ve squeezed the very pith out of my singular existence? Or, am I purposely (subconsciously) setting Drew and I behind, so that by the time we feel financially ready to have kids, we’ll be too old? (My subconscious is distressingly calculating at times.)
Who knows. What I do know is that I’ll now have more time to cipher on this, more time to write better blog posts, and more time to finish the novel. Please wish me luck, friends. I’m going to need it – desperately.
Tell me: Am I the only one out there, acting like a fool? What’s the scariest thing you ever did, and are you glad you did it?
If you know someone who needs a nudge to follow their dream, share this post with them using the links below!