Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I have this parenting gig well in hand.

I have reached the stage of my blogging career where I am prostituting everything I write on virtual street corners. I say prostituting, except that I am getting paid in comments and page views instead of cash.

I wrote a letter to give my son Rowan, in honor of his adolescent coming of age ceremony Sunday, and he will not allow me to publish it to my blog. That I wanted to publish it–and that he said no–are not, in and of themselves, terribly problematic. What troubles me is that the evil desire to do it anyway is like a crumb in my bed sheets. I itch to publish every single artfully strung together collection of words that I produce. It happened again today, when I emailed a blogger friend, continuing a delightful back and forth which I look forward to the way other people anticipate American Idol. Afterward I thought, when I had sent the email, that there were some good lines in there. And yet I sent them in an email and can't post them on my blog.

Here begins my spiral into serious mental illness. Have you conversed with me in the staff room? If I tossed off a clever line, be sure to look for it later on Faith in Ambiguity. Heart to heart conversations with my kids? Captured on audio to be later transcribed into pieces for Blog Her. Pillow talk? Recorded for posterity. Look for my shopping lists to appear on Twitter. Nothing I write is unworthy of your public consideration.

I have clearly lost all sense of perspective and purpose.

Maybe I'm dreaming of whoring out my day-to-day written communications because I can't seem to write anything else today. I sat down this morning and spent forty-five minutes on a single paragraph. The topic metamorphosed from spiritual transformation to writing advice to reflections on working with teenagers. I deleted more text than I committed. After carefully sculpting one single sentence with the same effort that Pygmalion beget Galatea, I looked at what I had written and realized that it was self-involved twaddle so boring I didn't even want to read it. And so, whooshing down the drain went the carefully safeguarded writing time for which I sacrifice sleep, exercise and worldly accomplishment.

I am, however, making this lost time up now through a means which is the tried and true stand-by of parents whose muse strikes at the wrong time: Parental neglect.

This is O.K. Many parents have pursuits which are important to them, and to their other family members, I tell myself, and these can sometimes cause disruption to the evening routine. Par for the course. One practice many parents seem to have abandoned is the preparation of dinner. This, at least, is the only conclusion I can draw from the following typical description of an afternoon's activities as related to me by mothers made of much stronger stuff:

"In five minutes Little Bobby and Betsy will be home. I have to take Betsy to violin lessons and Bobby to hockey. After that, my husband Jim is going to be home briefly before he heads out with Betsy to soccer practice. Then I promised to bake cookies and bring them to a PTA meeting. So I should go now."

I guess I can't do as much as other people. My feeling is I can  hold down a job or I can clean the kitchen. I can either have three children or go to the Post Office. But not both. That is much to much for me. However, I can damn well cook.

Clearly, these people are doing it wrong. They are serving their kids crap. Or sandwiches. Which are pretty much the same thing. What I do, on the other hand, is carefully plan and prepare nutritionally balanced meals with two or three varieties of vegetables apiece. I put these in front of my kids every night and afterwards, we compost them. It's part of the cycle on Nature.

So at least my neglected children, whose right to privacy has been undermined at every turn, will have had the opportunity to look at produce every night. And I can rest easy, knowing I have this parenting gig well in hand.


  1. Hooting, laughing out loud at the composted artfully planned meals. Right there with you. Veggies with little rabbity nibbles out of them and truckloads of "Why are you trying to kill us?!" and yet I persist. I remember watching my brother barf his squash back up on his plate when we were kids, so I guess it's better than that.
    As for the publishing of bits of things, if it's a good phrase, use it. I'll never tell if I saw it in an email. Don't be surprised if you should recognize a sentence or two elsewhere, either. (Mine, not yours, I wouldn't steal yours.)

    1. One time I MADE Rowan eat broccoli after he claimed he was "full." He threw up. Best. Parenting. Moment. Ever. I figure they will just die of scurvy later and I can stand by their graves and act smug. Then it will all be worth it.

      Thank you for understanding. It's nice to have a pal who doesn't mind your poaching mutual conversations for material.

  2. I have been repeatedly guilty of the sandwich for dinner offence. Mine is not lack of time to cook, but lack of ability. If I forced them to eat anyting I cooked it would be akin to child abuse. That being said, I should provided at least more opportunity to compost our veggies. They go ahead and rot in our fridge anyways may as well give them a shot at being dinner.

    1. At least that way they are learning how to build soil, you know? I suppose there is nothing inherently wrong with sandwiches. I suffer from a gravely misdirected perfectionism that allows me to achieve high levels of excellence at things that make no difference.

  3. Well, not sure what trouble you had with that paragraph you abandoned, but writing about it makes for a terrific funny post. Also lol, loved that your produce is compost; my kids veggies just get thrown out I hate to say, but I make them do it and launch into my famous diatribe about all the hungry children in the world. They still happily scrape their plates into the garbage. new follower. you're a riot AND a good writer!

    1. Thanks. I sacrifice as many paragraphs to the compost heap as my family does veggies. All part of the process. I try not to think about the poor children who don't even have paragraphs...

  4. The wanting to make good use of every clever line and thought probably is a mental disorder, but I hope you will be comforted to know that you are nowhere near alone. It has gotten to the point where I sometimes feel like I'm plagiarizing myself by making use of stuff in more than one venue.

    1. Oh well, I guess since I have realized my tendency to snark has an actual usefulness, I have found it hard not to OVERUSE it. Maybe I will get over this phase. One can always hope. Glad not to be alone, though! Very glad to have such privileged company, in fact. :)


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