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Here’s To the Not-So-Golden Moments

April 26, 2010

Picture this: In the foreground, a man is sitting in the grass at the base of a small hill. His elbows are on his knees and his head is in his hands. He is not moving. He is a picture of misery. Maybe he’s just realizing he left his cell phone on the train, or maybe he just got word his mother was killed in a fiery crash while holding a box of puppies. Major tragedy or minor inconvenience, it doesn’t matter. You could not imagine a more succinct image of agony and despair. And in the background is a child’s bike lying on its side in the grass. There is no one else around. It is late afternoon, moving onto dusk.

This is what I saw one day while walking through Pierce Park in Brookline, MA. I don’t know if the man and the bike were related, but I’m going to assume so, because it makes a better story: the agony, the bike–it was so much of parenting in a nutshell. Because parenting? Take it from me, sometimes–often, even–it sucks ass. People don’t say it very often, or if they do it’s quickly qualified: “My eight-year-old smashed all my original Beatles LPs against the basement wall and then used the shards to carve his initials in his sister’s arm–but I think this shows how much energy he has. I’m thinking of getting him into kickboxing.” Modern parents are often afraid to call their children what they can so often be: awful little sociopaths.

If you’re a modern parent (or worse, if you don’t have children and rely on other parents, parenting books and magazines, and God knows what other delusional media for your facts on the actual experience of parenting) you live in a world where every child is gifted and special, every parent has something important to share, and every moment with your child, no matter how trying, has some valuable lesson. Don’t believe it. Much of parenting is simple chaos. A lot of what kids do is nothing more than testing the world to see how much they can get away with. And most parents are, at the end of the day, just trying to survive with some sense of themselves and their world intact. It’s ugly.

This blog is dedicated to the not-so-golden moments, to highlighting the uglier realities of parenting and childhood. I have two kids, and they’re wonderful. They’re also terrible little monsters. The good stuff in parenting? That happens. But there’s more. So much more. You can hear the heartwarming stuff almost anywhere. But then there’s the man on the hill with the bike. This blog is dedicated to him.

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