things my children don't know i do for them

When I became a parent, I realized a few things about my parents.

1. That they too (at some point early on (and at many points later on (and probably right now also))) had no fucking idea what they were doing and wondered if they had made a huge mistake.

2. That it wasn't solely a fascist power play when they called my friend's parents to confirm that I was where I said I would be, safe in a finished basement watching Dangerous Minds.

3. This is a long one. They did all this stuff when I was growing up that I assumed was just, you know, stuff they really liked to do.

Obviously, my dad took notes in the margins of the book about troubled children not because I was a compulsive shoplifter and liar, but rather because he had a deep passion for the abnormal developmental psychology.

Clearly, my mom waited in her minivan outside of the pool at 6 am on winter mornings with a bag of warm bagels and cream cheese not because I had early swim practice and very few close friends and she volunteered to carpool us with fresh bagels so I might make a friend, but rather because she treasured her minivan me-time in the winter pre-dawn, her hair curling from the humid mist of warm onion bagel steam.

When I became a parent myself, I looked back on all of those things they did and I realized that (obviously) they didn't do that stuff for themselves. They did it for me.

And when I became a parent I discovered something more. There's a secret that our parents never really share with us - there is so much more they did for me that I don't even know about because I was a kid and kids assume that when they're not in the room, their parents turn into giant mannequins and wait for the children to return so they can reanimate. Kind of like Reverse Toy Story.

But now I'm a grown-up* and a mother myself and I know some of the secret things that parents do for their kids without advertising them. And I am going to share them with you, now.

Here is a partial list of the things our children don't know we do for them:

- They don't know that we put ice cubes in their soup and oatmeal until it's safe for them to eat with their hands.

- They don't know that we read these books

the parenting manual

and these books

we still have this one huh
it wasn't
or thrown away
or buried in the backyard
or stuffed under the oven
or anything like that huh


instead of these books.

i can only assume
the brothers karamazov
meet a mischevious monkey
and a wise old owl
and learn a very important lesson
that results in
a pizza party
with many zoo animals
on a friendly farm
where a squirrel flies an airplane

- They don't know that when we dramatically overreact to a slight transgression, it's because we fear that this will be the moment that the producers of Intervention will hone in on as "where it all started." We freak out after they toss an apple core on the ground because we got a vision of the future in which they have a rat colony living in the pile of pizza boxes by their bed.

- They don't know how many times we defended them to well-meaning people who said stupid things like, "I'm sure he's a good boy, but sometimes he just has trouble acting that way," or "is he on medication for ADHD?"

- They don't know how many friends we separated from, some amiably, some unconsciously, some in the wake of shattered family heirlooms, because those friends and our children simply did not fit.

- They don't know that we will watch this movie...

i can black out for this
BUT NEVER THESE. They will thank us later.

no explanation needed.
oh, you need an explanation?
ok, go start an episode of caillou.
i'll wait.

said sir topham hatt
you've blown a gasket going up that hill
 you'll be out of service for quite some time
and you know what that means, don't you
you aren't a very useful engine right now
so you should probably go kill yourself
because being useful
is the only thing
worth living for
i left the gate to the cliffs of sodor open
be quick
and do not scream

- They don't know that WE SAW THEM EAT THAT SPINACH AT DINNER we just didn't want to spook them so we froze with our forks halfway to our mouths until they swallowed.

- They don't know how close we have gotten to seriously just leaving them behind, shoeless, writhing on the stairs, when it was time to go to school. So close. Had to pull the key out of the ignition close.

- They don't know we are lying when we promise that we will stay awake in the hallway all night to make sure they can sleep. But to be fair, their door is locked and that's a pretty fucked-up thing to ask someone to do for you. I'll need you to not sleep so I can sleep. Promise? PINKY SWEAR?

- They don't know how many times a day we think, "fuck it" and just stay still on the couch pretending we can't hear them burrowing into the bag of pretzels.

- They don't know that after we put them in bed with their toddler bellies full of colorful seasonal vegetables and whole grains and organic proteins, THIS, so we have the will to go on tomorrow:

- They don't know that we vote with them - only them - in mind.

- They don't know how hard we are faking it when we act super-excited for the 4-year-old's birthday party. It's going to be SOOOO FUUUUUUUN! I can't WAAAAAAIT for all the SCREEEEEAMING! We do it for you, junior. FOR YOU.

- They don't know, and they must never find out, that there is nothing they can do, no violation of the family code so egregious that it cannot be washed away with an unasked-for kiss.

- They don't know we sneak into their bedroom after they are asleep, and laugh wheezing whisper laughs at their contorted bodies. They sleep like they got roofied at acro-yoga.

- They don't know we sneak into their bedroom after they are asleep, pull up the covers to their chins, brush their hair across their foreheads, and kiss them, again.

and again
but that one is for us


  1. You go into their bedrooms after they are asleep?! But you could WAKE THE KRAKEN!!!!

    1. They are both hard sleepers, thank God. We've had them in the same room for long enough that they can usually sleep through the shenanigans. Buster once cried for half an hour and when we gave up and accepted that he wasn't going back to sleep, we came into the room and found him sitting ON CHICKEN, who was sound asleep.