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10/13/11

Parents Are Weird

Last night at a friend's house, her roommate showed me a project she had been working on; painting a plaster cast that her friend had molded around her pregnant belly. This was certainly not the first time I had seen or heard of a pregnant woman making a cast of her stomach, but it got me to thinking. Because the fact is..it's kind of strange. In fact, there are a lot of bizarre things that people start doing once they become parents that to the outside world, probably seem a little freakish.

Now, before I get into my examples, I should note that I mean no offense to any of you parents who partake in these activities (except maybe number 4). In fact, I'm guilty of at least one and who knows what I might fall victim to in the future. But the fact is, as a parent you have to laugh at yourself a bit and realize that having children kind of turns us into lunatics.

Saving hair and teeth

I put this one first because it's probably the most common and the one I'll probably catch the most heat for. Saving 'baby's first lock' and 'baby's first tooth' as keepsakes seems to be a pretty widely accepted practice. But can we stop for a second and look at this for what it is? YOU ARE SAVING A HUMAN BEING'S HAIR AND TEETH. When a loved one passes away, do we snip off their bangs and pull out a tooth to preserve their memory? No, because that would be super creepy. Just because the person is alive doesn't eliminate that creepy factor, it only lessens it slightly. When somebody asks about your child, do you think they want to be greeted with a Ziploc bag containing hair follicles and a molar? No. Show them a damn picture already and leave it at that.

Matching outfit family portraits

I just want to thank all the families that insist on wearing matching clothes in their annual family photos. I mean, without the matching outfits, I might have just thought it was a picture of some random strangers who happened to congregate for a smiling photo in a grassy field. But dammit, those slim fit khakis and untucked white linen shirts let everybody know 'Hey, we're a FAMILY. We get along so well with each other that we coordinated these matching outfits and LOVE it!' Don't worry though, we'll ignore Junior scowling in the corner and the fact that you wear different outfits the other 364 days and 22 hours of the year. Just remember, at some point you will run out of colors to wear, and I don't think matching plaid will make for a very aesthetically pleasing portrait.

Do you REALLY want to model your family portraits after the Partridges?

Stick figure window decals

First of all, if you have a family of more than 4 kids, don't even think about ordering one of these. Nobody wants to sit there and stare at your small army of line people at a stoplight, and your 12 passenger Ford Econoline van gives us a pretty good indication that you have procreated way too many times. But even for the rest of you, I have to ask: Why? Why do you find it necessary to inform the driver behind you of your family lineup? Especially when you include NAMES on the decal too. Do you think that, if we happen to end up at the same destination, I'm going to come up and greet you? "Hey Bill, I just wanted to say I really appreciated how quick you were on the gas at those red lights. And I sure hope Kelsey stayed entertained with that Little Mermaid DVD in the back!" Trust me, with our without a decal, we can tell you have kids. Between your erratic driving as you try to discipline them and their faces pressed up against the window harassing other drivers, nobody is questioning the fact that you have some very lovely little tikes riding along.

Pageants

Now this one..this goes beyond weird parental behavior and really reaches the depths of creepy and gross. Are there normal, respectful pageant parents out there that have their child's best interest at heart? Maybe, but if so, I've never seen or heard about them. Quite frankly, I don't see what part of painting up your young daughter and dressing her like she's working a corner translates to healthy, beneficial behavior. Your child is a human, not your little doll that you can take advantage of and live vicariously through. If you want to treat something like a soulless creature that you can prance around for competition purposes, go buy a cat and enter the Cat Fanciers Association National Show. Just please quit trying to force your daughters to act 15 years older than their age and teaching them that being the prettiest is how you 'win' in life. Simply put, pageant parents should be flogged with curling irons and thrown into a giant vat of boiling eyebrow wax.

Leashes

Okay, so admittedly, I was a leash kid. Temporarily, anyway. I was very high energy, and after a few shopping trips where I disappeared inside the circular racks at JC Penney, she resorted to trying a leash. It didn't last long. As the story goes, one day while I was out with her, being trotted along on my leash, I had apparently decided I was fed up and wouldn't put up with it anymore. While I don't remember this, my mom claims I stopped in my tracks, turned and grabbed the leash, and gave it a solid yank accompanied by an echoing, bloodcurdling scream. Needless to say, the leash was not brought back out again. I understand that leashes (or 'safety harnesses', which I believe is the PC term) aren't inherently cruel, everyone has to admit that it's just strange to see a small child strapped up like an untrained Yorki-Poo. If you HAVE to use a leash, then by all means do it. But for the love of Whoever-You-Believe-In, exhaust all other options first. I'm convinced that my adult fears of seatbelts and suspenders are directly correlated to the incidents of being harnessed as a child.

Expensive devices for young kids

The other day, I saw someone tweet that their 5 and 3 year olds were playing with 'their' iPods. Wait, what? A 3 year old has his or her own iPod? First of all, money issues aside, what kind of music library does a 3 year old have that requires multiple gigabytes of space? Are you telling me that The Wiggles discography isn't something that could be chopped down and put onto a CD or 2? And besides that, aren't you just flushing money down the toilet by giving an expensive electronic device to a 3 year old? If you think that's a good investment of your money, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that is a hot buy right now. Quite frankly, it seems like the 'acceptable' age for buying kids iPods, smartphones, etc. is becoming younger and younger. By giving a 3 year old an iPod, aren't you just setting them up to constantly expect electronics that are more expensive and more lavish as they get older? An iPad isn't a normal wish list item for a 5th birthday party. Kids aren't even going to learn to tie their shoes anymore because, hey, why bother going outside when I can sit inside and get hypnotized by an LCD screen?

I bet she's listening to Waka Flocka Flame.

Bronzed baby shoes

I don't know how common this is anymore, but it's still bizarre. You don't bronze their first poop in the toilet, so why bronze a pair of shoes? Here's an idea: instead of creating an expensive paperweight that, in 20 years, you'll recycle for 12 cents, donate your kids old shoes to someone who really needs them. As great as awkward, metallic mementos are, being able to help someone else's child take their first steps comfortably could be a million times more meaningful.

Pictures. Pictures. And more. Freaking. Pictures.

Right off the bat, I'll admit, I'm guilty of this one. But parents, we need to band together and have a self-intervention to convince ourselves to put the camera down sometimes. And on the same note, to resist the constant urges to upload every single picture to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Yes, our kids are adorable and special and the best things on the planet. To us, anyway. But every meal, nose picking, nap, or new outfit doesn't necessarily need to be photographed. In reality, these moments might be more memorable and special if we step away from the lens and get involved rather than try to get the 'perfect' shot for our Facebook walls. And seriously, lay off the impromptu, uninvited gallery shows for co-workers, friends, etc. Keep in mind this is coming from a parent. I HAVE a kid, and still don't really care that much about seeing 500 pictures of someone else's kid. Sometimes I wish I could carry an air horn around to blast at people who do this, especially when a 10 minute story accompanies each photo.

Do I sound like a curmudgeony old man with this list? Yeah, probably. Hey, Andy Rooney's going to need a replacement, right? But like I said above, if you are guilty of any of these, don't get offended; just laugh. Except for the pageant stuff. Then throw yourself into an active volcano.

6 comments:

OK, I may be guilty of one or two of them. Not so much the creepy ones, though. Well, OK, they're all mostly creepy I suppose. My son was born right when digital cameras were getting real accessible and decent quality. Truth is, I think we had a kid so I had an excuse to buy a digital camera. Got my money's worth. Now I have a zillion image files (8 or so are actually worth printing) that I'll never have time to look at and the only memory of my kid growing up is framed in a tiny viewfinder. Might as well have been watching him grow up on TV.

Anyway, don't apologize for curmudgeony-ishness. Curmudgeons are usually right; that's why we like to not like them!

Are you saying that I can't put a decal of my dog and cat on my car either?

@I've Become My Parents - Like I said, I am definitely guilty of the excessive photographs and I'm sure 99.999% of parents are. Sometimes I catch myself holding my phone or camera struggling to get a good photograph, then stop myself and say 'What the hell am I doing this for, anyway?'

@Daddy's in Charge - Only if it's an actual photograph that you've made into a full rear window sticker.

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I actually came across a few baby teeth in a move and couldn't even remember which kid's they were. I tossed them and agree, kinda creepy.

@bridget That is too funny. Amazing how 'Oh, we'll cherish these memories!' turns into 'Gross, why did we keep these?' after a few years go by.

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