Responsibility: Frankly, If We Were Better at It We Probably Wouldn't Even *Have* Kids

Jenny Lawson
Being a Mom
22

This week we're talking about "teaching responsibility to our children." 

So who exactly is responsible for that?  That's right.  Their teachers.  Unless you've forgotten to enroll your children in school, that is.  Then it's the cats.  If you don't have house cats, then the mantle of teaching responsibility to the children who are our future falls to you.  So basically we're all fucked.

I know.  This is when you're going to get all defensive and insist that you're teaching your children responsibility but honestly, the first step in being responsible is admitting that you aren't, so let's all just take a deep breath and start there.*   I understand first-hand how difficult it is to be responsible and, in fact, I was going to write about this last month but I got totally distracted when I knocked over one of my moving boxes from when I moved five years ago and found the complete series of Absolutely Fabulous, which I thought I'd lost in a fire, which was caused, ironically enough, by my own child's irresponsibility.  My point?  I'm not here to judge you.  I'm here to help you.  Unless you actually are less responsible than me. Then I'm totally judging you.

Experts suggest that the best way to teach children responsibility is by your own positive example as a parent but honestly, that sounds like a fucking ton of work and so instead I suggest setting up a series of lessons intended to traumatize your child into being the responsible one in the family.

1.  Buy your child a pet hamster.  Also buy a matching dead hamster and put it in the freezer.  Whenever your child neglects to clean up his room or leaves her bike on the front lawn, simply remove the live hamster and replace it with the frozen dead one.  Explain that the hamster must have died from disappointment after hearing about your child's lack of responsibility.  After a few hours of mourning, replace the freezer hamster with the live hamster and explain that the child's tears of regret must have brought him back to life but that the hamster was in rodent hell for those hours and that if he keeps getting murdered by their blatant irresponsibility, then he'll probably eventually turn into an angry zombie and then kill the whole family during the night.  This teaches responsibility both for a pet and for the well-being of others, plus it begins their education on the danger of zombies.  It's practically like you're homeschooling them.

2.  Set small fires on the kitchen table and see how long it takes your children to notice them and put them out.  If it's more than 10 minutes, you'll need to punish them and also to buy a new table.  I suggest one made out of asbestos because asbestos is really hard to burn.  Not that great to eat off of though, but these are the sacrifices you make as a parent.  Also, make sure you don't have your DVD collection lying around nearby because they will totally melt into a solid cube of melted plastic on your carpet and you'll have to cut out that whole section of carpet with scissors because nothing is getting that shit out.  For real.  Not even baking soda.  Note: It's not necessary to have an excuse for the fire but it helps to have one that deflects blame from you.  Personally, I chose to tell my child that the fire was started by a poltergeist who was angry because she kept leaving her shoes in the middle of the damn living room.

3.  Forcibly emancipate your children.  Anything you do for your children after age 5 just serves to make them soft and dependent, so you should do your children a favor and make them leave home as soon as possible.  Many people get confused on this step and give their child up for adoption, but that's just passing the buck and you're certainly not going to teach your child responsibility by shirking your own.  Instead you should have your child live in a nearby town or (if they can't afford the rent) the shed where you keep the lawnmower.  If your child is under age 3, you should probably remove the lawnmower because sharp blades are dangerous around young children and also because it's probably not very good for the lawnmower.  I feel like I should point out that most toddlers are not even remotely responsible enough to live in a garden shed by themselves, so if yours is living there, then congratulations because they must be really advanced for their age.  You must be very proud indeed.

Thus ends our three-point lesson in being responsible.  I actually had four points but a poltergeist deleted the fourth one because someone left the cereal box open and now all the corn pops are stale.  Way to go, asshole.

Updated:  Fuck.  I owe you an apology.  My husband just pointed out that "admitting it" is the first step in fighting alcoholism, not in accepting your own personal irresponsibility.  So basically I think this means that this whole lesson was built on a lie and probably won't help you at all.  Unless you're an alcoholic.  Then I think I may have cured you.  You're welcome, alcoholics.


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