Everything I Know About Parenting I Learned From Bill Cosby


When I was a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Bill Cosby's Himself album. I had the LP and I'd play it over and over, laughing like a loon each and every time. Years later when I worked in a video shop, I'd put the VHS version on the monitors scattered throughout the store and watch as customers would cluster around a TV and snicker at Cosby's dramatic reenactment of his and his wife's Lamaze breathing: "Zup wuff snuff whoosh, push, push."

I listened to that stand-up routine so much I can still recite entire bits word for word, but it's only now that I have children that I truly realize the depth of his genius. Bill Cosby captured more parenting truths in that one album that anyone has ever published before or since, and I swear, not a day goes by that I don't find myself mired in some kid-related frustration and think to myself, Bill Cosby told me this would all happen ... 30 YEARS AGO.

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For example, let's take a look at just a few of Cosby's lines from Himself:

My mother was an authority on pigsties: "This is the worst looking pigsty I have ever seen in my life! And I want it cleaned up!"

At some point I just started describing my sons' bedrooms as pigsties. I have no idea why I do this, since an actual pigsty is pretty much just an outdoor pen with some fencing and dirt. Why is this even an insult? I would LOVE it if their rooms were as uncluttered as a pigsty! But that's the descriptor I use, and like Cosby's mother, I present myself as being extremely knowledgeable on the subject. You'd think I had personally inspected a great variety of pigsties around the world in order to accurately assess the state of my sons' bedrooms.

My mother was sick 800 times a day. "I'm sick of this! And I'm sick of you! So sick I don't know what to do with myself. Now I am just sick and tired." "And tired" always followed sick. Worst beating I ever got in my life, my mother said "Now I am just sick -- " I said "And tired!" ... I don't remember anything that happened that day.

Dude, I am always sick and tired. I don't think I've ever told my kids I'm sick of them (even if I am), but I CONTINUALLY express how sick and tired I am of cleaning up their messes, finding socks in random places, wiping toothpaste off the mirror, stepping on pointy toys, etc. etc. etc. I guess I occasionally interrupt my Sick and Tired tirade to say how "over it" I am, because my 8-year-old recently saw my pained expression at their post-lunchtime crumbapoolaza and said, "I know, you're over it, right?"

When you're a father you censor yourself. You get just as angry with a child but you don't want to say, "What the filth and foul and I'll filth and foul, filth and foul and, yeah, ya filth and foul face, and I'll filth and foul, foul, filth!" You don't want to say that to a child so you censor yourself and you sound like an idiot: "What the ... Get your ... I'll put a ... Get out of my face!"

Replace "father" with "parent" and I couldn't agree more. Except I sometimes replace bad words with other ones so I sound even sillier: "Son of a BISCUIT. Can someone please pick up these monkeyfighting LEGOS."

Now, for those of you without children, let me describe the brain damage. You come into the room with a Coca-cola, you set it down to grab the newspaper. The child comes walking in, picks up the drink, and you say "Give me that! Didn't I tell you not to drink it?" The child says, "Uh-huh." You say, "Tell me what I said." "You said for not for to drink your drink." "Every time I tell you that, don't I? When I have a drink, don't you drink it." "Uh-huh." "Now tell me what I said." "You said for not for to drink your drink!" "That's right!" So you set the drink down, turn to grab the paper, the child picks it up again and quickly starts to drink it! So you say, "Give me that! Didn't I just tell you to ..." "Uh-huh." "Then why did you drink it?" "I don't know!" Well, that's BRAIN DAMAGE!! If you KNOW you're not supposed to do something, and you do it, and people ask you why and you say "I don't know!" ... brain damage!

It was because of my father that from the ages of 7 to 15, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit. "Dammit, will you stop all that noise?" And, "Jesus Christ, sit down!" One day, I'm out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, "Dammit will you get back in here!" I said, "Dad, I'm Jesus Christ!"

I'm sure that if I admitted how often I use "Jesus Christ" and "dammit" around my kids, someone would take great offense and possibly hurt themselves rushing to the comment section in order to berate me, so in the interest of public safety, I'll just say I know exactly what he's talking about here.

Fathers are the geniuses of the house because only a person as intelligent as we could fake such stupidity. Think about your father. He doesn't know where anything is. You ask him to do something, he messes it up. That's a genius at work! Because he doesn't want to do it! And he knows someone will be coming soon to stop him from doing it!

This is my husband. He's a whip-smart man who holds a high level job at which he masterfully manages a great variety of complex projects, yet at home he doesn't know how a dishwasher works, he can never find the peanut butter, and his idea of doing laundry is dumping every item of clothing he owns into the washing machine, turning it on, then walking away FOREVER.

I love it when mothers get so mad they can't remember your name. "Come here, Roy, er, Rupert, er, Rutabaga ... what is your name, boy? And don't lie to me, because you live here, and I'll find out who you are."

We got a dog a few weeks ago, and now I get her name mixed into my frustrated splutterings. My sons' names are Dylan and Riley, the dog's name is Ruby. Here's what I find myself yelling sometimes: "Di-Ru-Ri--uh, WHOEVER made this mess, GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW."

My wife grabs a yard stick ... holds it like a samurai warrior ... and announces that the beatings will now begin ... by saying, "I HAVE HAD ... ENOUGH OF ... THIS!" Now these three brain-damaged people have the nerve to looked surprised.

Yes. YESSSSSS. WHY do they continually push us towards the edge of sanity, give us a final kick to send us over the cliff, then have the unbelievable gall to look SHOCKED when we lose our shit? You've got to hand it to the Cos, he spoke some of the truthiest parenting truths that have ever truthed.


Have you listened to Bill Cosby's Himself since becoming a parent?



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