Oh, just mine? Figures. I didn’t have the best examples in the family as a child, but everyone knows right from wrong. Still, it’s not like I haven’t ordered water at Taco Bell and “accidentally” let some lemonade fall into the cup while I poured my water.
Okay okay … so maybe I’ve also let a little bit of Pepsi Max spill into the cup. But only as far as where the lid goes.
One kid of mine snagged a soccer ball off a field where a team I coached suffered a brutal loss. Retribution, I guess? Another kid of mine loaded her purse with hot cocoa packets during a stay at a Hampton Inn.
The miles just catch up with a girl. It’s not her fault. It’s not like we don’t appreciate the miles and months and memories we spent together. You reach a comfort level. It’s hard to know where you end and she begins.
You meld together, learn each other’s idiosyncrasies. You’ve taken care of her. She’s taken care of you. You keep her in the style she’s accustomed to. You invest in her. You know how she feels, how she handles the curves of life.
Sad isn’t it? These kids’ parents read to them every night. With expression. And voices. Lots and lots of voices. So what gives? Why believe there’s no such thing as a good book? Should I blame Disney Channel? Vine?
Apps that allow you to spin your mental wheels without getting anywhere?
This is what happens when the school makes kids read books they don’t like. During summer vacation. What if we did this … What if … we let the kids read … whatever they wanted to read?
Not the Disney of our youth. Not the animation and magic that even little dinosaur and Star Wars oriented boys like me don’t want to admit love for, but secretly do. I’m talking about the Disney Channel of today, in particular. How I’d love to sit in on a board meeting while they dream up new petulant, contrary, smart-ass kids for their television lineup.
I should say this isn’t a full-on jihad against all things Disney – the boy of my youth would have been starry-eyed over such contemporary Disney concoctions/sidekicks as Olive from “A.N.T. Farm” and Lilly of “Hannah Montana” fame.
I’d like also to say that what a kid watches on TV – or a grown-up, for that matter – doesn’t have such a damning influence as we might fear. Yes, I wanted to be a storm trooper (but am I too short?) Sure, I stomped around like a T-Rex when I was a kid (we called it tyrannosaurus rex, back then). But today, at age 41, I don’t work for the Evil Empire, and I’m not a horrifying extinct lizard (stop right there!).
So why do Disney kids make me want to puncture my ear drums and superglue my eyelids shut?
I feel like the dude who calls the national talk shows and grinds out his complaints about government conspiracies. Crazy old man. But he probably feels the rant is nothing short of the truth being set free. Like the caller who blames the government for global warming, unemployement and gun-control legislation, every time my child blurts an ornery answer or pins an insult on a sibling or challenges me, I want to spew blame.
Blame, on middle kids on one show who call their father “fat,” their brother “dumb” and chastize their mom’s cooking – only to have the birthday party of his life bestowed upon him (after which he reaffirms his familiar insults before thanking them half-assedly for their efforts).
Blame on stupid boys climbing into dumb waiters with no adult supervision to be found.
Blame on twin boys with the gall to fool their mother into believing they were adhering to an in-room grounding by playing a continual audio loop of them playing go-fish.
I know, I know … who lets them watch these shows? We, as parents. Just as we watch shows about Zombies and movies about serial killers and reality TV that cheapens the human condition, we know that just because a kid watches a horrible show or listens to a terrible song or admires a troubled celebrity, it doesn’t mean she wants to be horrible or terrible or troubled. It’s just entertainment.
But this influence remains.
I won’t name you, snotty oldest sister who likes to play dumb. I won’t out you, annoying tween with an attitude and pissy web log who disdains the college experience. I won’t drag your name through the mud, rudderless teenager who fights with her best friend to try and date a celebrity too old for her.
I won’t call you out, but I do loathe you. I loathe the notion you plant in my kids’ minds that grown-ups are stupid, that siblings ought to hate each other out loud, and that in order to get what you want, it’s right and just and joyful to roll your friend/classmate/rule book to get what you want.
You’ve glorified dumb.
You’ve deified clueless.
You’ve praised a parallel universe in which adults are labotomized, parents stand in the way of kids and the success of their garage bands, and the best way to the top is a solo flight wrought with deception, conceit and vulgar behavior.
You’ve rendered the very name Disney, once the surname of a stately grey-haired illustrator and dream maker, to Smurf status.
You’re a stand-in for a curse word. Instead of “Let’s get the Smurf outta here!”, I’m likely to say:
“You’re full of Disney,”
“You bet your Disney I’m turning off the TV now!”
“What the Disney is that??”
Disney 2013, you make me long for the good old days. At least of Hannah Montana.
Sure, the acting was D-grade, but at least Hannah wouldn’t roll Lilly for a cute boy or expensive MUST-HAVE handbag.
My kids or the players on my teams might be too loud, burp in public, or even forget to say “thank you.”
That’s on me.
But when they spew a bad-tempered, disgraceful and self-centered quip when I ask them to do something, it’s like their waiting for a Disney laugh track to fire up, and buffoon parents to stumble cluelessly out of the room just in time for a teen/tween eye roll, I wonder what inspires them.
Well, that’s still on me, for letting them watch some of your crap.
Ponies. Clowns. Singing mice. That used to be enough. Now, we rent out restaurants. Create horse-riding adventures. Rent bounce houses and cotton-candy machines and maybe even boy bands.
Every year becomes a practice in topping what we did last year. Or what the last kid did.
You served hot dogs and had Lady Gaga sing for your kid’s party? Well, we’ll get Ke$ha and serve pizza. Deep.dish. The Party of the Year can have a few gems on the editing room floor. Some doozies on the “not quite list.”
No offense. You just wouldn’t understand, the kids and I. Dad, and his cubs. While we’re in that place, you can catch up on Pinterest, or do some crafts. Just ignore the pillows flying and, oh yeah, the noise.
It’ll sound like a zoo meets a train station meets an Iron Maiden concert, but it’s all smoke. No mirrors.
Imagination rules. Dad morphs into Crocodile Hunter. Or the Big Mean Bear, from Over the Hedge. Even Dr. Sheeka-laka-WOO-hoo, the friendly, bumbling dentist.
And I mean everything. No, not Bank of America and raiders fans. Kids’ TV shows. One of my kids acting up? Probably took cues from “Pair of Kings.” Another kid copping an attitude? Dang “Shake It Up” episodes on Netflix.
Did my daughter really just say that?
No doubt, she learned it from “I-Carly.” Most kids’ shows irk the hell out of me. My skin crawls when I hear that guitar riff that opens most “Good Luck, Charlie” scenes. My lip snarls when I hear Sprouse brothers’ voices crackle on “Suite Life On Deck.”
So, the first-grader was less than pleased last night with my effort as a goalkeeper to stop her sister’s shot.
“It’s like you’re scared of it, dad!” she said with disdain and disbelief. (Star players sometimes have precious little tolerance for the everyman on the roster). No no no. I can make a remarkable save now and again.
But sometimes, the mind moves quicker than the feet.
And the hands. But usually not the tongue. That’s fodder for another story. “Dad’s not scared of ANYTHING,” I declare with a boom. “Not anything??” she asked, unbelieving. If you only knew, honey.
Know what scares me?
Not for me. But for you kids. I know it sounds silly, but every time we go to Charleston, or any town with a big bridge, I have a nightmare that night. You girls cross it by yourselves, hand in hand, while skies threaten storms, through angry, unrelenting traffic.
Probably with snipers lying in wait, resentful poisonous snakes and oakland raiders fans with weapons and bad attitudes just beyond my scope. Not to mention mean-spirited jellyfish and hungry sharks and really sharp pieces of glass waiting in the waters below.
I wonder in my sleep – where am I? Why am I not with you at a time like that?
I’ve touched on this one, but yeah. When you were toddlers, I’d walk around the little structure, all its steps and poles and slides, and walkways, just to see that you were safe.
It probably looked ridiculous from afar. Things only got worse as you got bigger, and moved to the bigger playgrounds. They seemed three, four stories tall, with no abundance of guard rails.
Watch Dad circle the structure like a clown firefighter waiting for you to fall. A shade or three beyond silly, I realize.
Marie is highly allergic. We check labels, ask restaurant owners about peanut oil, and survey any picnic spot for empty peanut shells or open containers of peanut butter.
When Marie was first diagnosed, I had nightmares. The common thread: She couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t help her.
Her own peace with the condition and her sisters’ hyper-vigilance about all things peanut have eased those fears and stopped the nightmares. But I’ll never rest easy.
4. Being late for games.
This annoys the kids. I feel the need to be on the playing grounds (they hate also when I use this term and not ‘soccer field’) an hour prior to game time, although I admit this happens about as often as I eat a salad before I eat pizza (the land of good intentions).
A coach should check the field for dangerous spots and be on hand to greet his mighty warriors, have cones lined up and balls pumped and goalkeeper shirt pressed and ready for battle.
Or, in my case, to have a snack, get the bench I want and wait for Jesus or Allah to give me a sign whether we’re going to win that day. But mostly to have a snack.
5. My pants falling down.
It’s quite a well-founded fear. I always tie my soccer-pants drawstrings extra tight on game day, after Grace, um, exposed her daddy between the third and fourth quarters on a fateful Saturday morning.
And just in case, I try to always wear my most appropriate/visually appealing drawers.
6. Disney Channel/Nickelodeon.
I fear shows that depict kids who smart off to dim-witted parents, choose to do whatever they want to get whatever they want, and usually with little to no consequence.
Of course, we had this too, in the day, with Silver Spoons and Diff’rent Strokes, but we came out all right, right?
I praise Opie for every “yes, pa!” on the Andy Griffith Show or Beaver Cleaver’s “yes sir!” on Leave It To Beaver. The damage of I-carly and the bratty wizards from Waverly Place has been done.
I have the eye rolls to prove it.
I’d categorize rhinos on the charge, women on the go in really tiny heels, and any form of space matter that crashes to earth in this department, too: Any threat to their bodies that I could at least cushion the blow with my own body.
A natural airbag/safety barrier/chew toy for any oncoming threat.
Kids their age are tender to meteorites and tasty to angry dogs and pachyderms.
8. My girls, dating.
9. My girls, blogging. Someday.
OK, so I just acquired this one, while I wrote this post. I thought about their stories about me being mad or mischievous out there in the blogosphere without an opportunity to edit or correct or cover my assets.
To hear, “wow, did you see what you kid blogged about today??” Getting a forward with a note of sympathy, or a look from a co-worker that tells me she knows more than she should, and isn’t glad about it.