The boys and I are bacheloring it up for a few days. C is out of town for work and we are fending for ourselves. She’s done an excellent job raising them so, in truth, keeping track of them isn’t very difficult. The only major changes in our household will be that T1 will probably get away with playing a little more X-Box (he’s a big fan of Madden) and T2 will probably get away with wearing underwear less (he’s vocally not a big fan of underwear).
That said, my faux-dad duties are something that I worry about. I know I am hardly revealing the secrets of the universe here, but parenting is hard. I understood this intellectually of course, but in practice it’s a whole different thing. I didn’t have any of the baby/toddler ramp up that generally accompanies children. That’s good in one way, because they are old enough to not need diapers, are occasionally rational and are sentient enough to be asked “what the fuck are you doing?” It’s bad because I’ve had no practice at not asking “what the fuck are you doing?” a completely natural, in my mind, response to about 28% of the stuff that goes on around here.
I’ve had excellent parenting role models. My parents never let us doubt we were loved and always tried to be supportive and teach us how to be good people. My little brother has four kids (I’m not certain he know where they come from) and he and his wife are excellent parents. The guy I’ve been friends with since I was 13 years old has two kids (one named after me) and he and his wife are doing an awesome job. I know theoretically how do to it. I just worry about actually pulling it off.
T2 is easy. He thinks everything I do is awesome. He is eager for attention. I had been out of town for about a week and when I got home the first thing he did was jump off of a piece of furniture in a maneuver he calls “an air hug.” It never crossed his mind I might not catch him. He whispered in my ear “I can’t wait until we take over the world.”
T1 is harder. He is 12. He is in parts shockingly mature and amazingly immature. I’m dating his mom, so that’s gotta be weird. We get along really well but he’s at an age where everything is complicated and I’m worried I’m not going to be as helpful to him as I should be.
On Sunday I took him to lacrosse. I’ll probably write about lacrosse later. On the way home we had a discussion about how dating Taylor Swift is probably totally worth the mean song she would write about it afterwards.
“You just gotta know going in that eventually you’re going to be on an album,” he said, “and plan accordingly.”
We had a good time. He did very well. He was in a good mood. Two hours later he was standing in the middle of the kitchen losing his shit.
T1, like his little brother, is very smart. As a result, he has never had to do any work to get all A’s and B’s. However, the school he is at now is much harder than the ones he had previously attended. T1 tried to breeze through like he had been able to do up to this point and ended up failing classes left and right. Thankfully, about three weeks ago the school launched a website where we can check on his assignments every single day. C and I love it. T1 hates it with the intensity of a thousand suns.
Anyway, we get online and see that he has an English test the next day. C prints out the study guide and we start to go over it. He doesn’t know any of it. Can’t answer anything. C tells him he has to sit down and fill out the guide. We are then subjected to a half hour of bitching, moaning, and whining. T1 is a world class whiner. He can make “gosh” into eight syllables. It’s super annoying but also makes me think of Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith show, so it’s also sort of funny.
The fit goes on. He gets in a ton of trouble, gets grounded, there are tears and recriminations and basically everything in the world is so horrible that you good people probably wouldn’t believe the sheer injustice of it. He is a skinnier Nelson Mandela. You would have thought we were making him eat glass.
Finally, he sits down and does the study guide. It takes him about ten minutes and he gets almost all of it right. I am completely exasperated.
“T1,” I say. “Seriously, what the fuck?”
“Ohhhhhh!” yelled T2 from the family room, where he had been sitting quietly, playing Lego and enjoying his brother’s misery. “You said a bad word!”
“Right,” I said. “Sorry. T1, what the he…what are you doing? You knew this! You got almost everything right! We just spent a half hour fighting over this. If you had just sat down and done it, you’d be playing X-Box right now and not in trouble. I seriously think your mom is thinking about feeding you to the dog. Why didn’t you just do the work from the beginning and avoid all of this?”
He looked right at me and said, “I don’t know.”
And he didn’t I could tell he didn’t He really had no idea why he had behaved like such a pain in the ass for the last hour or so. None. He was just as confused as C and I. Maybe more so.
I couldn’t really be mad at him anymore. He went up to his room. The next day we went over the material at breakfast and he got all of it right. He took the test and got an A. We did fine with the academic part of the problem.
I just worry that I didn’t do very well by him on the other stuff.
It’s a learning process, I guess.