My 1st grader kissed an infant. My 1st grader, who has been in school less than a month, kissed a kid who has been on this Earth roughly the same amount of time. My kid, who has been around other children of all sorts of questionable health and vaccination schedules and who probably lie about washing their hands after they go to the bathroom (just like he does). The parents of the infant didn’t have rules about not kissing their newborn. They didn’t watch closely and say “Please don’t! Our baby is little and it’s immune system isn’t yet developed. We know you love babies but please just touch it’s hand. Or blow a kiss.”
My 1st grader was also sick. Now, when he left me for the weekend at 5 p.m. on Friday, he wasn’t. When he returned back on Sunday night he wasn’t. But apparently, somewhere in the middle when I wasn’t around, he was sick. And he didn’t tell anyone. And no one noticed. So when he kissed the baby, the baby got sick too. I was not there when this happened, but this is what I’ve been told.
And yet, I got an email from the infant’s parent accusing my 1st grader of not telling anyone he was sick, kissing the baby and getting the baby sick. When I suggested that that’s how it goes with kids and illness, I was told “Sounds like bad parenting to me.” And I agree. But I wasn’t the parent over the weekend.
If you have kids, especially boys, or common sense, you know something: boys are gross. My boys take a bath every night and by the time they return from school the next day they look like they’ve been doing farm work with their bare hands and recreating Jackson Pollack’s works with themselves as the canvas. I think that’s awesome. Nothing makes me more suspicious than clean kids. My boys are sporty boys. They play hard at school and at home. They’re in the yard, on the grass, on the sidewalk and on a general path of destruction.
I’ve also been told that my kids smell. Yes, they totally do. They smell like boy. Again, they leave the house clean but after eight hours of school and often times a couple hours of sports afterwards they could totally star in one of those Febreze commercials where there’s something rotting nearby but with a bit of Febreze you can’t tell. But because boys will be boys and I will always be the incompetant mother that I am, they smell because of me. I’ve been told I do laundry wrong. That it’s a lie that scent-free, natural detergent is better for them and their skin allergies. That I need to use strong-scented fabric softener because their clothes smell too.
Oh and lets not forget that I am causing gender confusion in my 1st grader, I’ve been told. The boy who loves girls, has been planning his marriage(s) since preschool, who is so desperate for my boyfriend and I to get married that my boyfriend refers to him as “a mini Chuck Woolery.” The boy who is a romantic and happens to have the best blonde hair ever, that he grew long because “it’s my style. It makes me look passionate.” He also figured out he gets tons of attention from ladies of all ages because of it. This same boy who wanted to get his nails done with me. I took him to the salon and he was fawned over by a lovely bevy of ladies who massaged and manicured him and painted his nails black. Black, like a rock star or how he naturally looks before a bath. Because he is confident in himself and his look, I am causing gender confusion. Because I’m a bad parent.
You know how I know I’m a bad parent? Because someone keeps telling me. And I totally own it. Hell yes I’m a bad parent. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve lost the instruction book that I’m sure must have come with my kids and I’m think their warranties have expired. I’m working on doing the best that I can in any given moment in any given day. Because I may be a bad parent, but I’m also the only full time parent. And that is hard work folks. It’s different than not having your husband be helpful. It’s different than not having a babysitter. Some of my badness may be because I don’t have a partner to bounce parenting questions and quandries off of. But some of it may just be because I’m an easy target. I’m slow moving and obvious.
But my bad parenting is also a gift. If I weren’t a bad parent, who would you have to blame? Would you have to take responsibility for yourself? Where would your misplaced anger go? Would you have to focus on yourself instead, and the choices that led to me being a bad parent to two boys? How would you fill your time, if not with nasty emails and demands? So revel in my gift of bad parenting. It’s for you, wrapped up in a box and bow. Despite it all I think my kids are doing pretty good. They get excellent grades, they’re pretty happy a lot of the time. They have friends and activities. And sometimes they suck. And sometimes I do. And sometimes our lives seem like a total, giant, futile clusterfuck. But that just makes you look better, right? You’re welcome.