Monday, May 25, 2009

The most thankless job in the world OR Teach your children well

Life is funny. Just when I get idealistic and foolhardy enough to think something like, “Maybe one day I’d like to settle down and have a family,” is when I go home.

I’ve written about this before, but every time I come home I get reminded of what a crappy job it must be to be a parent. I’m the oldest and my parents have a lot of kids. They still have four children, ages 5 to 16, at home. It looks like the most thankless job ever. I think there are garbage men, interns and I.R.S. agents that get more thanks than any mom or dad ever will.

Here are just four things parents have to deal with. First, kids are deceptively cute. Sure, they start out cute, but that doesn't last long.

Second, say goodbye to hobbies, social life and money. Kids take up all of your time and money, but unlike other investments you never get any sort of return whatsoever. Nothing. You’re just pouring in time and money and you will never get a second or cent of it back.

Third, kids are annoying. I have two brothers who are age 12 and 9 and that seems to be their main objective: annoying the crap out of everyone. They fight, they whine, they break stuff, and most of their time is spent following my mom around asking her questions like these:

“Have you ever hit a fish with a bat?”

“What does tin foil taste like?”

“Can I catch a skunk and write on it with a permanent marker?”

“What would happen if I put my hand in the garbage disposal and then turned it on?”

They don’t want answers, they just want to drive my mom crazy and they won't rest until she is in a straight jacket in a padded room. This is how I realized that my mom is a saint, because I would’ve smacked them long ago. I would’ve been looking for the receipts to see if I could return them. But not my mom, she’s too good at being a parent. Instead, she’s just gradually losing her mind.

Also, my 5-year-old sister is a kleptomaniac, and incidentally she likes to lie. too. She stole my mint gum and when I figured it out I asked her, “Did you take my gum?” Then, with a mouthful of gum that reeked of mint, this child had the audacity to say, with an angelic straight face, “No. I don’t know where your gum is.”

She will steal anything that is not bolted down or locked in a safe. Then she flushes it down the toilet. And when she’s not stealing things, she’s destroying things, which I’m sure is typical for her age, but it’s mighty annoying. If my parents turn their back a for a second, any blank surface will be covered in crayon, any family pet will get choked and any available scissors will be used to cut chunks out of her hair.

And I don't even want to talk about teenagers. My 16-year-old sister just might think she’s the center of the universe, but I guess that’s typical.

Fourth, kids come back. If you think 18 years of your time and money will be enough, think again! Those leeches come back to “visit” (especially if you have a washer and dryer) and, if you’re not careful, they’ll come back to live.

Good thing I am living at home and can put off this whole “family” thing for a while.