Being the Parent of “That Kid”

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You know the one. That kid the other kids in class go home and tell their parents about. That kid who subscribes to the “Every-other-day Plan” for office visits. That kid who’s accustomed to being on a sad color for behavior and struggles to make friends. The kid who single-handedly has the teacher counting down the days until the end of school.

Starting in December.

“That Kid.”

Well, he’s mine.

Being the parent of that kid is a sense of panic each time the phone rings during the school day.

Being the parent of that kid is a flood of relief when 2 o’clock finally arrives and you haven’t heard from the school office yet, because that means you probably won’t. Today.

Being the parent of that kid is introducing yourself cautiously at birthday parties, for fear that the knowledge that you’re his mom might provoke an awkward conversation like:

“You’re that kid’s mom? My kid talks about your kid all the time,” the other parent replies.

“Oh really?” you say with a big smile, hoping this may be a little BFF you somehow never heard about.

“Yeah,” they respond with a smile, only theirs is obviously forced, possibly to cover up the contempt that soon bubbles over. “She says that he bullies her. And everyone else in the class.”

“Oh…” You stammer with a slight wince. “I’m so sorry.”

There are no other words to excuse or explain that.

Being the parent of that kid means sitting by yourself, with that kid, at birthday parties.

Being the parent of that kid is refereeing black-belt anger issues and worrying about the fact that he’s getting bigger and stronger.

Being the parent of that kid means enduring a tantrum about doing homework that is longer then the actual time it would take to just sit down and complete said homework.

Being the parent of that kid is rough days at school and even rougher nights at home, where he finally feels safe enough to let out all the anger he caged up during the day.

Being the parent of that kid is having to figure out how to somehow teach the social skills that every other child seems to have come naturally pre-programmed with.

Being the parent of that kid is understanding how people get to the point of physically harming their children and having to restrain yourself from doing the same.

Being the parent of that kid is wondering what you did wrong with him when all your other children are kind, respectful, and get along with others, for the most part. That somehow it must be your fault.

Being the parent of that kid is that everything is your fault in his eyes.

Being the parent of that kid is choosing to make due with a sparse pantry for days instead of risking a trip to the store with that kid, who is certain to be more ornery than the toddler.

Being the parent of that kid is being neck-deep in lies, manipulation, and stealing, and living with the heartbreak that you can never give him the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore.

Being the parent of that kid is making him confess to the store manager.

Being the parent of that kid is patting him down before he leaves for school because he feels the rules don’t apply to him.

Being the parent of that kid is loud public tantrums, complete with screaming, stomping, accusations and other charades, well beyond the terrible 2’s.

Being the parent of that kid is knowing that everyone watching is judging your “pathetic parenting skills” or gathering fodder for their petition for a government-enforced, selective procreation plan for the betterment of mankind, for which you would certainly NOT qualify.

Being the parent of that kid means attending many behavior-planning meetings at school and always bringing tissues.

Being the parent of that kid is having the phrases “keep your hands to yourself” and “use your words” on Repeat All.

Being the parent of that kid is an underlying feeling of helplessness and discouragement, knowing that at the end of the day you can only do so much, and it ultimately boils down to the choices they make.

Being the parent of that kid is wiping away his siblings’ tears when they ask why he’s so mean to them and wiping away his tears when he says he doesn’t know.

Being the parent of that kid is relief when he’s not home.

Being the parent of that kid is dreading the summer for the same reason that all the other moms seem to be looking forward to it: he will be home with you all the time.

Being the parent of that kid is getting kicked out of the local library, park, and Sunday School class at church.

Being the parent of that kid is a lack of willing babysitters, family dinners out at restaurants, and invitations to friend’s houses. Because of him.

Being the parent of that kid is wanting to shout to everyone who would listen that you worked as a social worker, for crying out loud (I know, I know…I used to roll my eyes at parents like me when I worked in the field), that you love God and go to church, that you are doing everything you can think of to help this child. But you refrain. Because, perhaps, that would make you look even more desperate then you already are.

Being the parent of that kid is having every worst-case-behavioral-scenario planned out in your head before stopping by the local summer festival, and instead of it being crazy over-thinking, one of them materializes before your very eyes.

Being the parent of that kid is learning the hard way that it’s just easier to stay home.

Being the parent of that kid is knowing that next year’s teacher has already heard all about him and that he’s screwed before he even walks in the door.

Being the parent of that kid is living a Catch 22–you feel terrible that you’re frustrated with him most of the time, but most of the time he gives you good reason to be.

Being the parent of that kid is an unwavering hope that one day he’ll “get it” and mature, coupled with a feeling of despair when you realize, once again, today is not that day.

Being the parent of that kid is the fear he may grow up to be a delinquent and the realization that your behavior in light of those fears may become the self-fufilling prophecy that puts him there.

Being the parent of that kid is your broken heart wandering around in this tough world, because you can see in his eyes how hard it is to be him. How lonely, how discouraged, how crummy he must feel inside.

Being the parent of that kid is loving him no matter what and never giving up.


I was inspired to write this post after I read one about Being Poor, because it was an eye-opening look into the life of another–into their hardships, thoughts, and worries. It was a rare gift of perspective, as I hope this was.

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Things I Say vs. Things I Mean #2

What I said:

Me to my Husband on Memorial Day: I think the kids would really like it if we had a fondue party for dinner tonight.

Husband: No.

Me: Why not??

Husband: Well, I guess that’s fine as long as the fondue set is washed and put away tonight and not sitting on the counter forever.

Me: Okay, no problem.

What I meant:

The pot will most certainly still be sitting on the counter over a week from now, and I love you for going along with the whole fondue thing even though you know my track record for getting around to the “extra” dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher…

Unwanted

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For most of my life I’ve loathed talking on the phone, and I have a special hatred for any type of phone call that involves making an appointment. I don’t know why—the only explanation I can offer is it must be some sort of introvert thing.

I can type all day long from behind a computer screen. In fact, if I could type everything in life, I would, because my handwriting borders illegible chicken scratch at times. And, it’s so much faster.

I don’t mind texting either, because I don’t have to talk to you. I can get back to you when it’s convenient and keep my answers short and to the point, and I can edit if need be. And also: emojis. Who doesn’t love those.

But conversing on the phone…

I remember standing by the kitchen counter in the house where I grew up, and I was probably about 13 at the time. Fingers drumming on the light blue checkered countertop, foot propped on a stool, agonizing about a phone call. My mother had informed me, as she stood there chopping cucumbers on the other side of the counter, that I was old enough to schedule my own appointments, and she wanted me to call the dentist. All by myself.

I’m not sure how long it took me, but I remember just staring at that phone, like it might come to life and stab me were I to pick it up. I kept thinking if I waited long enough, my mother would relent and do it herself. But no, she was black-belt stubborn and more then willing to wait me out. I think she rather enjoyed it, actually. The anxiety I felt in the pit of my stomach that day over the mere thought of the phone call, well, that has never fully gone away.

I always have a mental stack of appointments waiting for me to pick up the phone. It’s a one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of relationship we have, where every once in a while I will taste the victory of physically dialing and getting one of them out of the way, but there’s a handful more that need addressed.

My daughter and I both have cavities that need filled and eye doctor appointments that need scheduled. Glasses need ordered and I need to fit in a well-check from April. I also have a tooth in the back of my mouth that needs a crown. It has for years. But I had another crown done, and it was one of the most traumatic dental experiences of my life, so I’ve avoided not only the phone call but the procedure itself like a McDonald’s Playland during flu season.

There’s nothing quite like looking at yourself in the mirror, after enduring what seemed like ceaseless drilling, to see all that’s left of your front tooth is a little bloody stump. Talk about self-image issues. Now, that said, I know the dead tooth in the back of my mouth can crack in half at any time and I may very much regret not making that dreaded phone call…

Kind of like the vasectomy appointment I was supposed to make for my husband, you know, anytime over the last two and a half years. I had the number from my OB, then we moved and I lost the number. I’ve been meaning to call and get the number for over a year, and now… Well, now it’s too late.

Because I found out a couple days ago that I’m pregnant. To say it was a shock is an understatement. We’ve been careful, although with anything short of a permanent solution, I know there’s always a chance.

I could just kick myself for not making that phone call, but I guess I have at least another nine months to get the appointment in now.

What bothers me the most, though, is the sad reality this baby was unwanted.

We were done.

I gave away my maternity clothes. I gave the baby clothes with baseballs and “I’m Handsome” embroidery to my sister and the baby clothes with flowers, frills and lace to a friend at church. We garage-saled our high chair and strollers, passed on our baby swing and toys and knick-knacks. I changed a diaper in the nursery at church this weekend and thought, thank God we are past that stage…

I started exercising this year, for the first time in a decade, doing my best to curb the “get pregnant – get huge – have the baby – breastfeed and loose the weight – stop breastfeeding but still eat like you are – get chubby – get pregnant again to hide the fact that you’re getting chubby – repeat,” cycle. And although I sufficiently curbed the “get chubby” part this time, I still managed to get myself pregnant again.

The sex was worth it. Oh my, was it worth it. It was some of the best in a long time, and I certainly wanted it. But I didn’t want the next nine months, although, clearly, I was not thinking about that at the time.

I find myself now, however, ashamed of how I feel. Because even though a fantastic act of love brought this baby into existence, its presence feels like a burden. And I feel immense guilt for that. The two minutes spent waiting for pregnancy test results when the baby is unwanted feels like an agonizing two years. And then, instead of joy, the aftermath is panic.

And I’m afraid. That’s the crux of the matter—I’m afraid and doing a terrible job of trusting God right now. I’m afraid that my bladder is going to fall out because I already pee my pants a little when I try to run. Jumping jacks and burpees are fine, but running… And that in and of itself makes me so sad, because I used to love to run. I used to be able to run.

I’ve been doing Kegels like a mad woman recently, but I’m afraid it’s not going to be enough and I’m going to have to be all propped up in there and wear Depends like an 80 year old woman by the time I’m 40. The thought of it terrifies me.

I’m afraid that while I’m mad at that little baby in there for “messing up” the rest of my year and turning my world upside down, for making me sick and huge and tired, that it will die, and I will have been mad for the short while it was with me. That I will spend the rest of my life regretting that.

I’m afraid of the pain, not only having to endure the pain of childbirth, again, but the pain of the unknown. The pain of your heart being multiplied again, of it being so small and vulnerable. The pain of possibly not developing correctly, the pain of complications, the pain of being ripped open and sewn back up, the pain of recovery, and the pain of sacrifice—sleep, sanity, and my very life. The pain of another life-long labor of love that is motherhood.

I’m afraid of losing my mind. Full-blown straight jacket crazy. I already feel like I’m going to lose it now, with four kids, and we are adding another one. I said that to my husband the other night as we sat on the couch, our kids running circles around the house and screaming as they darted past us with pieces of the train track in hand, probably about to chuck them at each other. He just pursed his lips and nodded slowly, methodically, and then he finally said, “well, if you do, we can’t afford to put you anywhere nice…”

So the county psych ward it is. Lock me up and call me Clementine.

Anne Lamott says, “when a child comes out of your body, it arrives with about a fifth of your brain clutched in its little hand, like those babies born clutching IUDs.” So basically, seeing as how this is baby number 5, I’m officially screwed. There will be nothing left. If you should need anything from me that requires my mental faculties being intact, ask quick. Your time is limited.

Then there’s the family reactions. The fact that most of them thought four was plenty… The comments that will surely come, like “haven’t you guys figured out how this works yet?” Well, yes, we have. Quite well, as a matter of fact, and that’s part of the problem. I can’t keep him off of me. That’s what I’m going to start saying to people, anyhow. Maybe that will shut them up.

What it comes down to is I want to find the joy in all this, because I really don’t have a choice anymore. I’m officially stuck, like it or not, so I might as well like it. Right?

I have a friend who is on the “however many children you want to give us is fine, God” birth control plan (i.e. no birth control). Six kids later I believe they are beginning to rethink this stance, but she’s always said to me, whenever they found out they were expecting, again, that “God chose to give us another gift, so what can we really say but thank you?”

I want to feel that way, and I know I will once I gaze upon that tiny little babe face-to-face. I know I will think it was all worth it, like I always have, but I don’t want to take nine months to get there. Because right now I just feel sad and scared. I feel overwhelmed and I want to cry all the time.

And nobody knows, so I feel alone. Alone and unprepared. Maybe that’s why I’m telling you.