I lack the follow-through to be a good parent

Occasionally I have good ideas. Or at least I used to. In reading through some of my writing from before Clementine was born, a little over 11 years ago now, I was reminded of this. I had ambitious plans. Sadly, though, most of these plans went out the window once the realities of fatherhood began to set in. The more diapers that I changed, and the more that I struggled to stay ahead of the laundry, the less I thought about the future. With each hour of lost sleep, I became exponentially less ambitious. I suspect it’s the same for everyone. You enter parenthood with the intention of doing everything the right way, and, by a few weeks in, you’re just happy if you manage to keep everyone alive, and the family intact. The big, ambitious plans just fall by the wayside. The college savings plan that you wanted to start never gets started. The tree house never gets built. The periodic table flash cards never get made. You just trudge forward like a protagonist on The Walking Dead, focusing on the next step in front of you, and trying your best not to do something that will kill you or those around you. For the most part, I guess it’s OK. Things have a tendency to work themselves out. Teachers eventually step in the pick up the slack. Optimistic and energetic friends replace overburdened and burned-out parents. Life goes on. There are regrets, though. There are specific things that I wanted to do for my daughter, important things, that I never made time for. And this fact fills me with regret… Here’s one example, something I’d written a few months prior to Clementine’s birth.

A thought occurred to me this evening as I was driving home from work. What if Linette and I take a lot of really scary photos of the baby when he or she is born, like photos of it on an alter built of rams’ horns, or lying inside a pentagram… photos of Linette and me wearing hooded black cloaks, huddled over candles, reciting incantations… and then hid these photos, along with a book of symbols and other gibberish, somewhere in the house for him or her to find decades from now, perhaps after we’re long goneā€¦ Yeah, I know it would be really mean, but it would also be really funny. The kid would spend the rest of his or her life trying to figure out what it all meant.


I guess it’s not too late, though. I could probably find a baby that looks something like Clementine and pay her parents a few bucks to look the other way while I snap some blurry photos of her drinking blood from a chalice while naked witches dance around a fire in the background… It’s never too late, I suppose, to become a good parent and invest in your child’s future.

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  1. Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:51 am | Permalink


  2. Bob
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Some ideas are best left unspoken.

  3. Dan Gillotte
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Don’t give up on your dreams to warp your children!

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    In my experience, kids warp on their own. They need very little help from us. Also, photoshop…

  5. anonymous
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Build an elaborate hidden lab under your house full of lab notebooks detailing how you built both children from parts like Dr. Frankenstein.

  6. Lynne
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    One of the things I love about being an aunt rather than being a mother is having the energy to do the fun things. Luckily for my nephew, I am not nearly as creative as you are. LOL.

  7. Eel
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Anyone can give a child a college education. All it takes is money. Giving a child an interesting bar story, though, is something precious.

  8. Mr. Y
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    BAR PATRON: What were your parents like?

    CLEMENTINE: I’m not sure. If you had asked me a few days ago, I would have said that they were just nice, quiet people who ran an Ypsipanty factory. I found something a few days ago, though, that has me questioning everything I thought I knew about them. You see, I found this box beneath the floorboard of my childhood bedroom…….

  9. Chi chris
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I have held firm to my belief that good parenting is equal parts deceit, denial, and degradation (the last, as in my own personal self-loathing that I am the shittiest parent as a means to try harder, I am best at this of the 3 “d’s”).

    The first, “deceit” works best when answering queries having to do with “disappeared” items. For example, having been asked to read “The Little Engine That Could” hundreds of times after the illustrations lost their old time-y appeal, my son was informed that it was a pre-school book and he would not be allowed to attend Kindergarten if I continued to read books to him below the appropriate audience age.

    “Denial” has come in handy when asked by my daughter if all the fighting meant me and her Daddy didn’t live each other. Instead I told her that our favorite movie was “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolfe?” and we like to recite the lines from it to each other.

    And “Degradation”, do you really need an example of that? To Do so would probably Make me cry…ageain, and it isn’t even noon yet.

  10. Chi chris
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Point being, Never fear You have plenty Of time to make them uniquely distraught through their and Your lifetime.

  11. Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    My daughter is 16 months old and my ambitious plans for when she reaches sentience (and can read) are already in shambles.

    Best simple long term prank I’ve heard – when your kid is just a baby, take their picture somewhere with complete strangers that are clearly a family. Print the photo and hide it behind another family and let it age. Place that family photo in your kid’s room and hope that one day they swap it out or get curious and find the old picture. When they ask who those people are, get nervous and change the subject.

  12. 734
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I was not expecting this article to take a turn toward the satanic. Good work.

    As for how to fuck with your kids, why not just tattoo “666” on their heads while they’re asleep? They won’t know until decades from now, when they lose their hair.

  13. Reverend Andrew
    Posted August 8, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I managed to get the tree house built at least.
    She’s 19 now so she’s pretty much launched.
    All that’s left is to watch and stand by to bail her out.

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