Everything I Hated as a Kid Is Coming Back to Haunt Me as a Parent

Doesn't it seem like once you've lived through a particularly challenging life stage -- the ass-pain of memorizing the multiplication tables, say, or the nonstop emotional horror show of middle school -- you shouldn't have to repeat it ever again? That's supposed to be the consolation prize in our inexorable forward march toward death: we become wiser, we gain perspective, and if we don't want to wear headgear, we totally don't have to.

This is SO not how it works if you have kids, though. Once you're a parent, you eventually get to revisit pretty much every single thing that ever sucked when you were a kid -- and this time around, it's actually even worse, because as an adult, you get all the added stress and responsibility.


For instance, homework. My kids are young enough that we're not dealing with an enormous amount of homework yet, but I know it's coming. I struggled so much with homework the first time around I can hardly BELIEVE the unfairness of having to experience it again. Some might say this is my chance to heal some personal wounds by facing an old nemesis with the good habits I've developed as an adult, but those people can suck a full page of long division problems and they'd better SHOW THEIR WORK.

Orthodontics. After all those years of grueling torture devices that were bolted to my mouth in an ongoing attempt to fix my jacked-up grill, I pretty much never want to think about teeth ever again. Good thing I've got two kids who are genetically doomed to at least some amount of extractions and braces, and this time I get to find out just how much all that costs. (I'm thinking a SHIT-TON, based on the reaction my mom once had to hearing that I'd tossed out my retainer with the leftover contents of my lunch tray.)
I absolutely hated doing chores as a kid, especially cleaning my room. Now, of course, I get to spend a decent amount of time every single blessed day of my life cleaning up after other people's messes, but I also get the thrilling added bonus of nagging my children to do their chores. This one definitely feels like karma coming right back around to bite me in the ass, especially since my oldest son has the exact same obnoxious habit of "picking up" by stuffing crap under his bed that I used to have. It's like time travel, only this time I get to play the part of my frustrated mother ("WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU SHOVE ALL THIS UNDER HERE? THIS IS THE WORST PIGSTY I HAVE EVER SEEN!").
I know some of us don't ever truly outgrow things like shyness or social anxiety, but as someone staring down the barrel of 40, I feel like I should be past the intense awkwardness that plagued me in my preteen years. Even if I haven't quite evolved as a person to not feel those uncomfortable feelings, at least I'm old enough now to pick and choose when I should be subjected to them, right? WRONG. Being a parent is inherently social, particularly when you have older kids who are involved in school activities or sports, and intimidating situations crop up all the damn time. I'm just saying, finding a comfortable spot in a playground filled with BFF moms is pretty much exactly as shitty as choosing a cafeteria table in sixth grade used to be.

Oh, and food! I swore I'd never be the sort of parent who forced her kid to eat something they didn't want, because I can still remember having to sit at the kitchen table until I finished my disgusting, cold, slimy plate of scrambled eggs. But now I have two children who would happily live on Goldfish crackers and fruit chews if I'd let them, so I find myself nagging them to just try this, try a bite, just one freaking bite, it's a GRAPE FOR GOD'S SAKE NO ONE HATES GRAPES.

There are so many indescribably glorious things about re-experiencing the wonders of childhood with your own kids. The first taste of ice cream, the first roller coaster ride. Blanket forts, spotting shooting stars, toasting marshmallows over a campfire -- I loved those things as a child, I love them even more as a parent. I suppose it's only fair that we get the full spectrum and not just the very best moments ... but that doesn't mean I don't secretly wish I could banish some of these irritating ghosts right back to my own past. You go to hell and you die, multiplication tables.

Are there any aspects of parenting that remind you of things that traumatized you as a kid?

Image via davidclow/Flickr

Read More >