It's that time again! As in, when I have a few minutes to myself to type and yet have absolutely nothing to say! So you're getting old crap!
The following is yet another article I wrote for the neighborhood parenting newsletter here. It's a tad dated since it mentions my having only the two kids, but I'm fairly confident you can pretend.
A lot of people accost me on the street and demand to know how I’ve managed to raise two children, ages five and one, not to be serial killers and/or international terrorists. I’ll tell you what I tell all of them: being the mother of 2.5 children makes me an instant parenting expert. It’s as if all of the right answers just flow into my brain like whispers from heaven. This is why I rush up to you and shout parenting advice at you in front of your children. You’re welcome!
Now, word limits prevent me from telling you absolutely everything you need to know to be as great a mother as I am, but I would be remiss (and I am also completely incapable of not doing this) if I didn’t share at least one parenting tip with you: the most important thing you need to teach your children is independence. If you don’t teach them they can live without you, they’ll be living with you until they’re 47 and they’ll wind up on the evening news being hauled away by federal officers with you crying and running behind, insisting that his or her anti-government club had no part in that international incident CNN’s been talking about for the past month. It’s embarrassing, believe you me, particularly when I make fun of you publicly for it.
So how do you teach small children independence? First off, these little freeloaders need to learn to earn their keep. Unfortunately, U.S. Child Labor Laws prevent you from making your kids get a proper job. The people who made these laws don’t have 47-year-old children in a federal prison, either, so what do they know? Fortunately for your kids though, those laws are very loosely enforced. Feel free to send your kids out knocking on doors, selling their various craft projects they’ve stayed up until 2a.m. making for unreasonably high sale prices, all for your retirement fund. And their ultimate well being of course. Naturally. Mind you, make sure to make your kids throw out their really crappy efforts, ‘cause those lousy things will never sell. It’s important they learn when they’re just plain not good enough for the rest of the world. Also make sure the little worker bees are home before dark or the cops will start to catch on. Lastly, teach ‘em to keep their traps shut or we’re all going to prison. And heaven knows that would be counterproductive.
Besides mental and physical independence, your kids need to learn emotional independence. If there’s one thing your kids do, it’s whine and cry, am I right? I know I am. I’ve seen them do it in Safeway. And I know if it’s even half as annoying to you as it is to me, then you’ve got to nip that problem in the bud. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that terrifying surprise will be your biggest asset here. As soon as you see one of your children look like they’re about to cry, quickly rush up to them and shout, “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!” in their faces. Only two things will happen at this point: they’ll instantly stop (success!) or they’ll cry harder. Don’t you give up, mom! You just keep screaming for as long as they’re crying and guaranteed, either they’ll eventually give in and stop or one of you will pass out. Either way, you’ve won this battle! Repeat as necessary. Sure, my five-year-old walks in a circle for hours at a time and stutters a bit, and the one-year-old sits in the corner all day twitching and chewing on his arms, but at least they’re quiet. And independent. Now, you see there? Prime parenting at its finest. This one’s on the house, folks.
Mad props to my lovely and funny friend, Lisa, who read rough draft after rough draft of this piece without complaining. She also made wonderful contributions in the form of pointing out when things were really funny, things weren't funny at all, what could make sections funnier (which I added), and what parts were just downright creepy (I removed those, trust me). Many thanks, Lisa!
And finally, I used to have a bit in there about Machiavelli but too many people didn't get the joke so I took it out. But I still maintain that confusing The Prince with a self-help parenting guide is pure comedic genius. So there.