When I was a single person, I spent weekends in my condo recovering from social interaction. Moliere and I would’ve been great friends. We could have sat next to each other and never uttered a word.
One thing they don’t warn misanthropes about before having kids?
You’re going to chaperone field trips. You’re going to sit with other parents at sporting events.
As someone who wouldn’t necessarily enter the defense codes should an asteroid be hurtling towards Earth, it is this aspect of parenting that leaves me most exhausted.
My husband, on the other hand, could make friends with a potato. He is a natural in the world of parenting. People simply love him. I don’t really mind this dynamic. Joe has learned to talk me off my keyboard when I prepare to go scorched earth on the latest person not sharing my standards regarding safety, fair play and group punishment. He keeps me from quoting the student handbook and engaging legal counsel. Whenever a good impression is required, I send in Joe.
Recently, my middle son and a table full of boys were accosted by an administrator. Somebody had knocked over a water bottle at the lunch table and didn’t clean it up. Jack was forced to stay after school and write a letter admitting what a huge disappointment he was.
Jack hadn’t known the water was there; he was on the other end of the table.
The kid who spilled it didn’t receive any punishment because he left.
My righteous indignation kicked in. I was primed for battle. Then Jack talked more about it.
He wasn’t mad. He thought it was funny that each boy kept adding more sentences to their letters to exaggerate their moral deficiencies as human beings. It became a game of who could articulate the most shame and regret.
I started to laugh.
I signed off on Jack’s letter with a certain comfort.
He would never be the guy hiding out in his condo. He is part of this world. And he would definitely enter those defense codes.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.