I’m writing this blog on behalf of my childfree friends, who outnumber my friends with kids. My real job is in the media and in the bit I work is not particularly rammed with parents.
My good friend Posh Helen is primarily the reason behind this blog post. She had a horrific experience with the kind of parent that gives the rest of us very bad names. The mother bemoaned the lack of free childcare facilities at a tech conference. Helen made the excellent point that the woman’s partner should look after the child if the mother wanted go because it’s not a human right to drag your kid to a conference. Not only that, it would make the cost attending these conferences prohibitive for single women such as Helen. (Crèche workers have to be paid. Even the crèche was run by androids, I assume they’d need oil or an IT guy to keep them ticking over.) The mother then accused Helen of not being a woman (because of course every woman feels the same way when it comes to children as do all men) and then, displaying a level of douchebaggery that would win a gold medal, said that Helen was “just bitter that no one loved you enough to give you a baby.” Just fucking wow. This woman is convinced that her child is going to be a world-famous scientist. I don’t know about that, but if I were a betting woman, I’d get pretty short odds that this kid will grow up to be a pain in the ass.
Newsflash to parents: Your kids aren’t special. They are not unique. They are not awesome. They are ordinary human beings that are no different to the billions of other human beings on the planet. They are special to you and your partner. If you have siblings that also have children, your kids aren’t even special to their grandparents.
You can enroll your kids into every programme, activity, class or enrichment thing you can and your kid is going to end up pretty ordinary and do ordinary things. They may develop a talent for something, but chances are they’ll enjoy it for a while and go on to something else. If you’re lucky, they’ll have a nice hobby that keeps them occupied and if you’re really lucky, they’ll have this nice little hobby as an adult. If you were born with a rabbit’s foot in one hand, a four-leaf clover in the other, and a horseshoe up your ass, your kid’s hobby, talent or intellect could make them rich and famous.
Your child is not gifted– not like you think they are. They are likely smart, some might be advanced for their age or intelligent. But gifted people are rare– extremely so. In all of my life, I’ve met one gifted person and she has mental health problems. There are a finite amount of gifted people in the world and the odds are highly stacked against your child being one. Your kid is not going to be this guy. Sorry.
I know you are thinking, “jeez Leslie, why are you being such an utter bitch about my children?I I’m only trying my hardest.” I promise you I’m not, because I feel the same way about my kids. As much as I think my children are the best things in creation, I realise that it’s just me and their dad that think that way. We have days or weeks even, where we find them annoying as fuck. It’s not a stretch for us to think that people who did not give them life feel the same way.
Parenting is supposed to change your life, but that doesn’t mean you turn into a great big whopping douche. I absolutely adore children and not much they do irks me. (My own children excluded. They know just how to fuck with me and it generally begins when I am just about to sit down to write.) However, some parents could make me hate children with a passion I reserve for racists, homophobes and most Chicago Cubs fans. You see, I don’t do competitive parenting at all and when a person starts rattling off all the shit their kids do or how little Ciabatta and Clytemnestra are doing in their advanced Sanskrit manuscript writing class, it feels as if they are gearing up for the parenting comps. After they tell you about how utterly amazing their offspring are, competitive parents give you a little look that almost dares you to top what they are doing. If you, for instance, tell the competitive parent that your child spent the winter building a boat and then sailed said boat around the world using an astrolabe, a tiny flicker of panic will flash up in their eyes before they try to top you. If you are like me and say you spend your weekends going to Forbidden Planet, watching Regular Show and dancing around to Tears For Fears, they give you a superior smirk and then go on about how little Oregano is doing a summer cookery class with Jamie Oliver.
I remember what I was like before I had kids and I really liked that person. She was cool and interesting. She may have had to step aside when the kids came along, but she didn’t cease to exist. There are things about me that have vastly improved since I had kids– I’m (finally) more responsible, I’m a lot more thoughtful and I’m a lot more patient and relaxed about stuff. Of course, those are all very good things and contribute to being a good parent. However, unless I want all my friends to either be my children or the type of douchey parent I’m writing about, I’d better retain some of my “before children” aspects of my personality.
My life does not revolve around my kids. It never will. I will always do what’s best for them, love them, care for them and attempt to give them the best start in life that I can. When it’s practical, I put my children first. (I don’t think children should always come first. It’s one of those things that sounds nice, but in reality is almost completely impractical.) My children are not my projects. I want them to take advantage of as much as they can. If they express an interest in something, then I will support them to the hilt. I’ll expose them to as many things as I can. I want them to do things in the hopes that they will have a constructive outlet. I don’t want them to do things because I think it will give me parental bragging rights. People who schedule their kids within an inch of their lives because they “only want the best for their children,” deserve to be cock-punched. Who, besides a psycho says “I want the absolute worst for my kids?” Even fucked up parents don’t usually mean to fuck up their kids. They are sadly sucked into a vortex of chaos.
Just like your children aren’t prodigies, you aren’t suddenly imbued with magical qualities because you have children. There are people I know who were bastards before they had children and after they had children, they were still bastards. Don’t be a smug prick about your kids. You certainly won’t be doing yourself or them any favours. If you want to raise an entitled, selfish, whiny little brat who will be unable to cope in the real world. keep telling them how special, unique and amazingly awesome they are. If everyone is special than unique, then no one is.
There’s nothing wrong with being ordinary. The Eldest, as lovely as he is, will not be troubling MENSA ever. I could bankrupt myself by hiring the best tutors money could buy and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. I just want him to work to his best potential. As long as he’s happy, I don’t care if he’s a cardiologist or a carpenter when he grows up. I want children that are kind, charitable and honest. Anything on top of that is a parental bonus.