Many of us go into fatherhood with expectations of simplicity. Like most of us, Jeff Jackson discovered the unfortunate reality.
Parenting is the biggest conspiracy in the history of the world. Oh sure, have kids, they’re fun and full of love. What a crock! What no one ever tells you is that parenting is hard work and you never really know how well you’re doing at it. Sure, there is immediate feedback on some things, but some things there is no feedback on, and it eats you alive with “Did I do it right”? Parenting is a conspiracy. Thank God my parents and their parents and their parents and their parents went through with it and had kids or, to say the least, I wouldn’t be here ranting and raving about how hard it is.
Take, for instance, my twin sons Archibald and Mortimer, not their real names. Morty doesn’t eat. Oh, ok, he eats some things, like bread and cereal. It’s a short list. But, what he doesn’t eat is longer than say, War and Peace by Tolstoy, without all the Russian names.
SMM (Sergeant Major Mommy) and I (big dog daddy, numero uno, head honcho, big cheese, He Who Must Be Obeyed) plead, beg and negotiate with Morty to get him to eat. Nothing works. We’ve offered him an XBOX ONE, his own bedroom, his own IRA, to do all his homework for him which went from one month to forever and finally, his own car. I mean THAT IS A BIG DEAL. A new car! SMM and Daddy don’t even have new cars, and he’s only 8! But, no, Morty somehow decides that not eating is paramount to ALL those things. I don’t get it. He, somehow, eats enough to survive. He, somehow, keeps on growing. Don’t ask me how he just keeps getting taller. He, somehow, has enough energy to run and play and do Tae Kwon Do.
Some other parents have told us that he will grow out of it and that we should be thankful that he is not eating more because, consequently, if he were eating more, our grocery bill would be astronomical.
How does he do it? Why does he not eat? How can SMM and Daddy maintain what little sanity we have left? (Daddy has less than SMM because he is older and is slipping further into dementia as we speak. I estimate Daddy has roughly 30 years left before his brain just gives up and pulls both oars back into the boat. And why does Daddy still keep referring to himself in the third person (another sign of that big D)).
If that isn’t enough, Archie is a special needs kid. If you met him, you would instantly fall in love with him because of his cute personality, creativity, and innocence. But, Archie is having trouble with reading. No one is sure whether there is anything physically wrong with him or if it is because he is just young and immature.
Also, Archie gets into what I will call “moods” in which he becomes “Rambo” at seven. He will utterly destroy his room and all the toys in a hurricane of energy and randomness. On the other hand, I don’t want to brag, but he is totally more creative than any of his colleagues in school. I’ve seen his school work at an open house, and his work looks like he is channeling a seven-year-old version of French Impressionism.
Archie is hard to discipline. I don’t particularly like disciplining. However, in my job description, there is an unusual clause (a Sanity Clause?) which states that Daddy has to keep his children in check by using discipline ultimately to prepare the little buggers for life. Because, as everyone knows, Life will chew you up and spit you out and never say please and thank you and if you don’t have any discipline you will meander from random event to random event like a leaf in the wind, or like Daddy’s employment record which is another blog story.
We must have discipline, however, and it is my job to use it, judiciously, of course, to prepare my sons. It would be easier to enforce discipline if Archie listened more. I can’t possibly tell you how many times I’ve had to resort to hiring a crane to PICK UP Archie and PULL him away from some dubious and reckless playing to get his attention.
The best way to handle him has just been to have him in time-out. That is easier said than done when Hurricane Archie, Archie-osaurus, Archie the King, has started on one of his rampages. He requires constant supervision, if for nothing else, to protect him (and Morty). He also requires constant monitoring on the infinite amount of homework he has to do nightly. The good news is that Archie is progressing in his reading and, for what it’s worth, his behavior is better than it was. Maybe he is maturing?
The bad news is that Archie is a physical and emotional drain for SMM and Daddy. We love him dearly. Morty is a physical and emotional drain, too. Like a classic co-dependent, he follows and imitates everything that Archie does. We love him dearly, too. Morty is at the top of his class in reading, but he lacks focus and motivation. But then again, don’t we all?
Physically, Archie can outrun the wind. He is so fast and so quick, I have officially given up trying to catch him. Morty, on the other hand, does not have Archie’s quickness, but he is no slouch to running himself. It is Morty who has progressed the most in Tae Kwon Do. Ironically, it is because of his focus and attention, go figure.
PLUS, Daddy’s job is…. well, something less than ideal. I’m always tired, distracted and poor. SMM’s job requires a long commute, tiring and demanding. We have a house that needs constant updates, cars that require regular maintenance and a mother-in-law that requires constant supervision, too.
It is what it is. They are who they are. We do what we can do. I guess nobody told me it would be easy. Then again, nobody warned me it would be like this. After raising twin sons for almost eight years, I knew it was a bad time to give up drinking. I have tried to remedy that situation in the past couple of months. A glass of wine before I go to bed is helpful sometimes.
I guess if I had the opportunity to talk with my parents and their parents and their parents and their parents, they would each have their tales of woe and hardship. At least, we have two beautiful twin boys who are as precious and beautiful as fresh air in an office building. And, at least, we have cable and the Internet and smartphones.
This post originally appeared at DaddyisBest.com
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men? Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.