Monday, September 24, 2007

Because I Said So

I've told you all the truth here. I've shrunk away from nothing. You've read at Urf! that sometimes your very own children can drive you away, that it's perfectly okay to want to leave your kids from time to time. You've seen here that sometimes parents pick a favorite from their four (or, you know, whatever number you have) kids, even if it is for just an afternoon, or one season. And we've all learned that sometimes one child will be chosen to be a mole, a rat, a turncoat with his siblings. These are all ugly truths that parents know deep down, but don't often speak of out loud for fear of reproach from other parents that they don't know so well who may be listening in at the food court. But those parents know it, too. And here's another: all first-time parents think that they will do a better job raising kids than their own parents did. [DISCLAIMER: Mom, I'm speaking in generalities here. This isn't necessarily something I've ever thought, and when Katherine first mentioned it to me I thought she was, quite frankly, insane. You just can't tell with post-partum.]

This isn't to say that we think our children will end up more well-adjusted than we did, or have a more well-rounded childhood, but there are some very specific things that new parents plan on. I'm not giving my child any sugary cereals, I'm not letting my child watch television all night, I'm always going to use a car seat. One way we all think we'll be different - better, if you will - is in how we talk to our children; refusing to talk down to them, to treat them like, well, children. With the words still ringing in our ears from our own childhood, we swear on a stack of Dr. Spock books that we will never use Because I said so as reasoning for anything, that we will explain our decisions in a way that is not threatening and that even a toddler can understand and make sense from.

I've been a father now for nine and a half-ish years to four or so kids, and one thing I've learned is that Because I said so may be the finest reason for just about anything. I am the parent. I am the pater familial. I am the king ... okay, the co-ruler, of this fiefdom. Why do you have to pick that pizza up off the floor? Because I said so. Why do you have to get in the bathtub? Because I said so. Why do you have to take your hands from your brother's neck? Because. I. Said. So. Why do I say so? I usually don't know, maybe because whatever they're doing is loud or gross or potentially dangerous. I just kind of make it up as I go along. What didn't I make up? The mortgage payment I just mailed off so these kids will have a roof over their heads, the gargantuan grocery bill I just paid, the fact that I have to wake up at 6 a.m. so everything can get done that needs getting done to get them to school on time. All of these things give me carte blanche to say so.

All you new parents, go ahead and repeat that line to yourself and learn to love it. And learn that you are, in fact, no better or smarter than your own parents. Parenting is hard and we have few adequate resources in our arsenal. Because I said so is tried and true, it's the B-52 of reasoning.

Now, I have to prepare for the phone call I'll get when my Mom reads that I thought I could out-think her on how to be a parent, and then I will come back and possibly delete this post. Why? Because she said so.