The other day I had a rare hour to myself at the used bookstore, and as I was happily digging through a pile of dusty memoirs, I found myself thinking, "Hey! I should see if they have any of those awful Magic Treehouse books I hate reading to my kid."
(Nothing against the prolific and successful Magic Treehouse author, mind you, it's just that I really dislike those stories. But my 6-year-old loves them, and so almost every night I read him that series. From Buffalo Before Breakfast to Polar Bears Past Bedtime, I dutifully visit the land of Jack and Annie, although I've been thinking of publishing a parody book titled Seriously Stilted Sentence Structures at Sunset.)
That's how things are now: I get a chance to be totally self-indulgent, and I end up doing something for my damn wiener kids. I'm not saying I've become a more generous, selfless person since parenthood—I'm saying parenthood causes chemical alterations to your brain, and not always in a good way.
For instance, here are a handful of seemingly permanent mental changes I've undergone in the last several years:
I Buy Stupid Shit at Gift Shops When I'm Traveling. On the (extremely rare) occasion I find myself in a beautiful new city with hundreds of places to explore and sights to see, what do I do? I make a beeline for the nearest tourist-trap gift shop so I can buy my kids a crappy novelty license plate, stuffed animal, or keychain—you know, something they'll lose three seconds after I give it to them. What the hell, self.
Babies Crying on TV Make Me Check the Monitor. God, I hate the sound of a crying baby on a TV show, which triggers a Pavlovian response in me in which I instantly leap to my feet and adjust the video monitor to make sure I'm not actually hearing one of my own children (who somehow managed to travel back in time to the infant stage). The only thing that's even worse is the sound of emergency sirens being used in music, because one minute I'm driving to the store singing along with Beyonce, the next I'm staring bug-eyed in the rearview mirror while vigorously crapping my pants.
I Always Hear Screaming in the Shower. Speaking of noises that aren't what they seem, I haven't taken a single shower in six years without being convinced that I'm hearing the muffled sound of a child screaming somewhere.
Every Road Leads to Barf. Call it vomit-related PTSD, call it a regular old-fashioned phobia that's blossomed into chunder-sized proportions since parenthood, but every time one of my kids so much as hints that he might be feeling a bit off, I'm running for the barf bucket. Kid is tired? Oh god, he's probably got the stomach flu. Kid is cranky? Great, so much for getting any sleep tonight. Kid is behaving perfectly normally but he stopped playing for half a second to rub his belly? May as well strip him now and make him stand in the tub because he's surely going to projectile-spew half-chewed hot dogs any second now.
Tragic Child Stories in the News: No. Just, No. Don't send it to me, don't link that shit on Facebook, don't print the story in 20-pt font with the words "BRUTAL ASSAULT" in the title. I can watch horror movies all day long, but these types of stories burrow directly into my head and they never, ever leave.
SpongeBob Squarepants Is Freaking Hilarious. Seriously. That's just quality television programming right there.
What are some of the non-traditional ways parenthood has changed you?
Image via Flickr/stevendepolo