I Love My Kids … I Love Torturing My Kids


Now Playing: Acuff-Rose, by Uncle Tupelo. “Early in the morning, sometimes late at night, Sometimes I get the feeling that everything’s alright. Early in the evening, sometimes in the day, Sometimes I get the feeling everything’s okay. Because everything cuts against the tide, When you’re by my side.”

I think I started something yesterday with a Facebook post on how much I enjoy torturing my kids whenever a Led Zeppelin song comes on whatever device I’m listening to. Yesterday it was What Is and What Will Never Be. I love to crank Zep up anyway, but never more than when I can aggravate the boys. Both inevitably yell, “Turn it down, Dad.” So I turn it up, usually after saying, “I can’t hear you. Did you say turn it up?”

There’s a lot of stuff going here. For one, shouldn’t it be the parents yelling at kids to turn the music down? That’s how it was when I was growing up.

So I enjoy the role reversal, and I particularly love torturing my kids.

Don’t get wrong. I love them, and I’m the biggest pushover in the world. I picked Austin up from school Monday at noon after his exam, and I’m going to get Garrett early in a few minutes on this, his last day. I can rarely resist them when they ask me to do something, and they know it. I give Austin rides all over the place, not as his father, but as his driver – eyes pointed straight ahead and no talking to any of his friends, except maybe to ask directions, very Britishly, of the Young Master and His Companions.

But I love messing with them, too. In addition to Zeppelin, they hate it when I blast Springsteen, especially Jungle Land. So I blast Springsteen at every opportunity. I’ve been known to drive around the neighborhood just to hear the end of a song – and to lengthen their torture. They don’t like Dylan either. Or the Stones. (I’m sorta wondering where I went wrong, or if they’ll grow into it.) Against all odds, they do kinda like AC/DC and The Clash – I think it’s because some of their songs are on video games.

This morning, Austin came downstairs ready to leave for school. I asked him, “What’s your exam today?” He yelled back, “Ohmigod! Did you just hear Mom ask me the same thing?” “No,” I said, truthfully. “So what’s it on?” “Math,” he said through clenched teeth. “So are you ready for it?” “Ohmigod! Mom just asked me the same thing. Didn’t you hear me yell?” “No, I really didn’t.” “So are you?” “Dad! Of course I am.” The door slams.

That one was innocent, but I’d have probably done it on purpose had I heard them talking.

As for Garrett, I have plans for him tomorrow. He wants me to get the nose piece fixed on his glasses. Fine, but that means he needs to go with me. So I’m going to take him to the mall. And shop for clothes, for both of us. Which he hates. Sweet revenge! Though it could blow up on me. He’s a bear when he doesn’t want to be in a store. But I’ve got some leverage. He wants to go to Krispy Kreme for a doughnut and a Jolly Rancher Chiller.

In the end, of course, they have the last laugh. As you know, I’m home these days as I’m “between jobs.” Starting tomorrow. They’re home with me – all the time. So who’s torturing whom?

Pass the want ads, please. And wait for Communication Breakdown to come on.

“In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.”  _ Thomas Szasz

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