I shared this exchange with my brother, who reminded me that the previous week I reported about my 2-year-old: “That asshole shit his pants at the library.”
Because I wanted an excuse to keep the conversation going (say nothing of trying to downplay the sanctimonious tone I often take in this blog), I texted him about my potty-mouth parental antics.
Not many people will admit to calling their kids bad names. Except, it seems, my friends. Everywhere I turn people I know are laying out how they really feel about their offspring. One of my oldest girlfriends has two great kids, yet she often refers to her daughter – an opinionated, defiant and bossy 7-year-old – as a bitch. A mommy friend in my neighborhood was so relieved by her daughter’s 5th birthday. “The worst age is 4,” she recently said over a dinner out. “Every single day my husband and I would say what an asshole she was.” At a family Halloween party, the hostess greeted me by rolling her eyes and saying of her preschooler, “Daniel has been a raging dick today.”
Some might shake a judgmental finger at parents like us. But I’ve noticed that moms and dads who use swear names to express their parental frustrations also have a unique respect for their children. My friend with the bitchy daughter, for example, refers to her children as “people” – not kids. “Sam is a really thoughtful person,” she’ll say of her 12-year-old before launching into her myriad annoyances with him.
My friend whose daughter has graduated from her shitty preschool stage is described by her mother as “a person who gets really angry if she feels she’s not being heard,” and “the kind of girl who doesn’t have a lot of drive but will always be fine in the world.” Parents who view their kids as whole individuals, I find, are parents who have license to detest parts of their kids – just as they would any person. After all, as much as we may love our boss or neighbor, we likely describe them in with the occasional four-letter word. We don’t use those monikers to their faces. As we spend lots of time with our children and their many escalated moods, it’s normal these words are thrown around from time to time.
Describing our children with cusswords also signifies that we accept ourselves as whole people with complex feelings and thoughts. We are not robo-parents who only think, feel and say delightful and fair things about our kids. If that were true, there would be no way to explain the runaway success of Go the F**k to Sleep, which sold 150,000 copies, hit Amazon’s No. 1 bestseller and was optioned by Fox. The illustrated book looks like a classic kid’s tale, but is clearly intended for parents – parents who sometimes hate their kids.
The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the fuck to sleep.
Did you read that book? Did you laugh? Congratulations. You’re a real person, a whole parent. And sometimes your kid’s an asshole.
- 26-Year-Old To See Every Asshole He Ever Went To High School With On Night Before Thanksgiving (theonion.com)
- Could a mom have written Go The F To Sleep? Wondering keeps us up | Babble (babble.com)
- Elves are assholes. (thebloggess.com)
- All My Children . . . Are Imaginary. | Babble (babble.com)
- A Parents’ Primer on Patience (babyzone.com)
- Has Bravo run out of assholes for reality shows? (realityblurred.com)
- Anatomy of Marital Argument: The Idiot and the A**Hole (outlawmama.com)
- High on OxyContin, Dad Neglects 3 Kids (including 1 locked in a dog cage) (crimesagainstkids.com)