*I wrote this blog two months ago and have been meaning to post it; however, between travel and moving and generally being a stressed-out mess, I just don't have any time. Oh, and I still can't get blogger for my iPad to do the font and size I want, so I have to wait until I am on a real computer to do that. And who has real computers these days?*
have new neighbors.
When they first moved in, I was really excited because they
have boys my son's age. I thought it would be awesome for there to be normal
boys on the block for my son to play with. I envisioned Saturdays with the boys
riding their scooters on the sidewalk as the neighbor parents and I sipped
beverages and chatted. Or perhaps a summer Tuesday night where my son goes over
to their house to play or vice versa. It seemed like an awesome scenario.
IF the neighbor kids had been even remotely human.
(in a sad desperate way, not actually laughable) how kids can reveal exactly
the worst part of you that you never want anyone to see. Kids have no social
filters. So if you are an animal who doesn't follow even the simplest
conventions of human politeness in your private life, no matter how hard you
try to hide it with a public face, your kids will out you.
Which sucks for
everyone concerned because a) you don't want anyone to know that you are
a beast and are raising wild beasts, b) those who know your kids aren't going to want to have
them be around their kids, and c) now we are all faced with the awkward moments
where my kid tells your kids that I told him not to play with them and now I
look like the asshole.
And that is really the hardest part for me. Not
because I can't handle telling my kid that he isn't allowed to play with kids
who destroy houses, break toys, are disrespectful to adults, and rummage
through every nook and cranny of my house. I am great at setting those
boundaries. And in fact, if my son ever behaved that way, I would hope that
other parents would tell their children the same exact thing. However, what I
can't do is look another parent in the face and tell them their kid is a beast.
[and I am not exaggerating about their beastliness: these kids are out of
control like feral raccoons or opossums.]
I'm a pleaser. I want people to be
happy with me and informing people that their children are not welcome in my
house does not make them happy.
It's not that I really care about the
neighbor mom. I sensed crazy on her the day I met her and she tried to have a
homeschool-off with me (it's okay, you can win--you're more homeschooled than I
am). It's that I don't want to seem mean. And because I don't want to seem
mean, I am actually mean in a sneaky, underhanded way.
I tell my son to stay
away from her kids. I lie to her face when she asks me if I told my son not to
play with her kids. When she invites us to do stuff, I feign regretful
enthusiasm because of course I would love to get together today for X but sadly
we're already busy--let's make plans for another time. Then I conveniently
forget to call back with my schedule. I cheerily wave from my yard when she's
in hers, all the while thinking about how horrible her kids are.
like this version of me. I don't like that I can't hide this version from the world because my son is still without guile and can't hide a freaking thing. I don't like that my son sees this (and know that with
the law of kids, it will bite me in the ass someday). But I am a straight up
It is not my fault that her boys are animals. I didn't raise them. I
also know that my personal tolerance for boy behavior is pretty high, so I am
not being picky. I am not the one who sends my kid over to their house right at
bed time to do homework. I also don't send my child over to their house without
dinner so that he asks them for food. Nor does my child borrow scooters from
them and then leave them lying in front of the garage door of the other
(childless) neighbor (begging to be run over). Nor do I forget that I even
borrowed those scooters and fail to apologize when they disappear from my yard.
I am not the one who initially behaved badly. And I shouldn't feel guilty
about calling her out for her children's bad behavior. If she wanted to hide
her crazy, she shouldn't have had kids.
However, I am the one behaving badly
when I resort to passive aggressive behavior instead of direct conversation. I
am the one behaving badly when I can write an 800-word blog about her terrible
children while she sits two houses down and thinks that we are fine. I am the
one behaving badly when I force my child to be sneaky-mean just like I am
In many ways, I am also being outed. My not-so nice nature is coming
to the front because of my son's interactions with others. All the crazy that I
want hidden is on display.
I knew I shouldn't have bred.
The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.
--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History
--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History