Uh, so not everything my parents told me was wrong

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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From the ages 3 through 21, I believed my parents only told me lies.

“If you jump of that pile of rocks into another pile of rocks, you’re going to get hurt,” they said.

“If you just eat Chef Boyardee and drink Coca-Cola, you’re going to gain 25 pounds,” they’d try to convince me.

“You shouldn’t stay up later than 2 a.m. every night and expect to be fresh and intelligible at 7 .m. the next morning,” they told me.

“Bullshit,” I called each and every time (well maybe something less swear-y before I reached the swear-filled age of 6).

But holy bananas, as I try to tell things to my two girls these days, I’ve realized they were right about almost each and every one of the things they told me. And, lo and behold, my kids don’t believe me either and it’s frustrating as hell.

So what are the things I’ve come to realize (aside from the obvious ones up top) my parents were telling me because it was true? Because my oldest is only four and change, I’m going to focus on the younger years for now, since I realize how hard it is to hammer these things into a child’s head. But not really hammer it in because that’s an awful thought.

I’m right

Well that seems to take care of everything, doesn’t it? “I’m” in this case, is obviously the parent and I’ve come to realize this is true. In any circumstance. Even when you’re not actually right, to your kid you better act as though you are. You give in on that once and you’re done for good.

Vegetables taste delicious

“Broccoli is delicious,” my mom used to tell me. “She’s right,” my dad would add. “Plus there are birds in the trees so eat them.” I don’t know if it’s because I knew chickens were birds and chickens tasted good or what, but I ate my broccoli each time, even though I ended up hating it again the next time it was served on my plate. Similarly, the thought of mushrooms made my violently ill. This, possible almost 100 per cent owing to the fact that I once ate the “not good kind” of mushroom that grows in everyone’s backyard.

I thought this way for years, then discovered melted butter. Melted butter makes everything taste good, but oh my god, melted butter makes vegetables taste like bacon.

You don’t have to hate your siblings

Siblings are born to be tortured. And to make the oldest sibling feel good about reaching milestones first and being able to count one number higher than their younger brothers or sisters no matter how hard they try. I, luckily enough for me I suppose, happen to be an oldest sibling.

My parents constantly told me it wasn’t mandatory to hate my siblings, even if they were yelling in my ear and taking sips out of my apple juice or beating me at Mario Bros. even though they were at least two years younger than me. No younger brother or sister should ever bet better at Super Mario Bros. That’s just science. Or Biology or chemistry.

But as I started to grow up, I started to realize brothers can also be friends—awesome ones at that. And then I had two girls and figured I could apply the same logic to them even though four years in they a lot of the time seem to hate each other more than any human can hate another human.

But they also show love. And they better. We’re going camping this ┬ásummer and if the two of them can’t get along, none of us are coming back the same. My parents were right (I hope): you don’t have to hate your siblings.

You don’t mean it when you say I don’t love you

Every time my parents told me “no,” I looked up to the sky and told the good lord that I was through with loving everyone ever again. If I was made to eat even one more scoop of creamed corn or turn my bedroom light off one page too early, I’d fly into a silent fit of rage the likes of which nobody will have known went on. I was silently furious all the time. And my parents must have known it because saying I don’t love you was one of the off-bounds expressions we had.

Now I have a 2-year-old who hasn’t bothered learning new words because she’s so in love with the ones that rhyme with “I bon’t dove boo.” They’re just words but they’re hurtful. I try to keep a happy face but it’s hard. If I turn her light off early she doesn’t love me. If I leave her door open “not that much, no too much, no not enough, no too up, now too down,” she doesn’t love me. I just want’t to be loved.

I’m getting through the single digit years by living the “you don’t mean it when you say I don’t love you,” motto.

There’s nothing behind the closed door

We didn’t have too many off-bounds rooms in my house but my friends had a few. I always imagined the closed door was keeping me from the Narnia of our time. That if I was somehow able to force my way through the keyhole, I’d find myself transported to a land with a never ending supply of Turkish Delight. I hated every adult who ever kept me from exploring a closed door room. I blamed them for my eternal life on this Earth.

Wow. Our closed door room has a bed, a step ladder and a sewing machine in it. From time to time it also has tax forms or Movember posters or receipts from getting our winter tires changed. It is literally the most boring room in the world even though it has a closet. A closet I’ve already inspected for passages to Narnia.

When you go to sleep we don’t do anything

“Yeah right mom. There’s no way you guys go to sleep an hour after we do. I bet you eat chocolate cake and play video games until the sun starts to come up again. Or you watch movies and play floor hockey. I don’t know, maybe you’re even superheroes. Or supervillains. I bet you’re a supervillain who uses their power of lies to deceive the word into going to sleep early so you can steal all their money. Whatever it is, you guys are up until four in the morning and I hate you for it.” That was my honest to god belief about my parents when I was growing up.

The very first thing I do every single night once my kids are settled in bed is lie down in my own bed. Sometimes I’ll write while in bed, other times I’ll read or watch a movie. Sometimes I’ll even get out of bed after a few minutes and go clean a bathroom. But more often than not, I’m out of bed for one minute a day longer than my children.

One response to “Uh, so not everything my parents told me was wrong”

  1. Larry says:

    Some good laughs here Mike.
    I’m afraid my kids at 4 and 7 are too old to buy some of these. I still might try or come up with some other lies – stretch the truth sounds better – that can be helpful.

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