Let me just say it’s great to blow off steam. We can’t always be appropriate, and among good friends, it is incredibly refreshing to be able to say “holy freaking crap, my child is driving me around the bend.”
This is quite the trend lately, what with the popularity of Go the F to Sleep, Moms Who Drink and Swear, and Mommy Wants Vodka. We’ve given ourselves permission to be imperfect, and that is great. Hell, I’ve been known to refer to my baby as an asshole when she was colicky and I was teetering on the edge of sanity.
I just wonder if sometimes we overdo it.
Here’s the sitch: A friend of mine forwarded me an email that was sent to a public email list -- the one for parents in my neighborhood. The title was “Parenting a 6-year-old douchebag.” Maybe it’s because my babies are still babies, but ... to me, that crossed a line.
I should stress that I do have history with this mom. She is actually one of the moderators of the list, which means she was one of a very small group who scolded me when I made a joke on the list that bedazzled maternity clothes could cause gay babies. I was told that this was “hate speech” and kicked off the list.
This same woman complained that her kindergartener was “a major douchebag” and went on to call her “a whiny, manipulative, mercurial, tantrum-prone little s**t.” Several friends of mine forwarded me the email and asked, “Didn’t she kick you off the list for hate speech?” They also forwarded me the responses, most of which said things like, “Oh, you are soooo funny!” “I just spit my tea!” and even “I know just what you mean!”
Now, my older child has tantrums that are somewhat unbelievable. She’s kicked me in the boob, and some days there’s nothing I can say that doesn’t result in shrieks of protest. The little one has her moments, too. But the one thing I try very hard not to do is take any of it seriously or personally.
My stepkids can annoy me, too, and I have on occasion referred to them in not-so-flattering terms. And? I would die if they heard me do that. Because they didn’t ask to have a stepmom, they didn’t ask for their parents to divorce, and they certainly didn’t ask for the hormonal changes that sometimes kick them into high-stress mode.
Of course, that’s the salient point here, right? This mom isn’t saying, “You are a douchebag” to her daughter, she is thinking, “Shut up you douchebag” when her kid acts out. Well, sure, who doesn’t have moments of doing that.
I just wonder if it’s wise to announce that to the world. Not that the daughter’s going to go back and read the email 20 years from now and judge her exasperated mother. More that -- the more you indulge that kind of sentiment, the more it’s going to come through in how you relate to that person. If you think “I hate you,” your face is going to show “I hate you,” even if your lips are somehow saying “I love you.” I mean, duh, right?
On the other hand, there’s Louis CK, the standup comic who now has a half-hour comedy show on FX. This show is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and he’s one of the few comics who have actually made myself pee laughing. And he has called his kids (NSFW) terrible things! And it's funny!
Here’s the difference: (a) He doesn’t say those things anymore, actually. He thought better of it after he divorced his kids’ mom and got into a better mental state. (b) He’s a professional comedian, not a desperate housewife trying to be funny. (c) He tells other stories that show he's kind of awesome. (d) He never kicked me off an email list.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too fussy. Moms, help me out: When is it okay to blow off steam and call your kid a little sh*t -- and when do you realize you need to dial it back, button your lip, and realize that the douchebag doesn’t fall far from the tree?
Have you ever called your kid a nasty name? Did you regret it, or was it all in good fun?
Image via Mishbradley/Flickr