I don't ever really think about my archives because once I get something off my chest I'm usually done with it. But the other day I was thinking about the post I wrote when my son told me he liked to hurt dogs. Those were the days! When I could admit difficult parenting moments and get the almost-full support of the Internet. I got some anonymous comments from what we used to call "concern trolls" who were worried that Jackson would grow up to be a serial killer, one of whom suggested I take him to an abused animal shelter and show him what it looks like for dogs to be horribly mistreated, which -- would they even let a four-year-old into a place like that? If I had explained to them that he liked to pinch his dog's ears, would they have said, "Oh, by all means, let's show him some bait dogs that have been starved half to death so that you can teach him that grown ups can be far more cruel than he'd ever imagined, because we want to make sure he feels just as helpless and traumatized as these puppies." I am so glad I don't blog about my kid anymore.
Rita read that post and ended up including it in her parenting anthology, Sleep Is For The Weak. Knowing what I know now, that Jackson was going through a phase that's weirdly normal for a lot of kids, and that he was not on his way to becoming a sociopath, I am tempted to delete that post because it could end up embarrassing him when he's older. I am also tempted to rewrite it because I come off as fairly desperate to reassure myself that he was just kidding. He wasn't, of course. I simply had no idea how to handle what he was telling me.
Fortunately, the Internet can smell insecurity on you. Then they pinch your ears until you cry! Who's the sociopath now, Internet?
What made that post necessary for me then and the reason I'm leaving it up for now are the comments that said, Oh yeah, I used to do that as a kid but I grew out of it, and, Thank you for writing this because my kid is doing the same thing and I am freaking out.
Now, I'm not an expert in anything, but -- okay, would you like to know what irony is? My dog was just sitting in the living room barking at nothing and I said, "Oh my God, Peewee, I am going to fucking kill you if you don't shut up!" and then I took two chew toys and I dangled them over his head to get him to follow me into the bedroom, and then I threw them on the floor and ran out of the room and closed the door. He is now trapped in a squeaky, quilt-filled prison.
People used to ask me and Alice if we were going to do a sequel to Let's Panic About Babies!, something that would take you from toddlerhood through teenagers, but since neither of us knew anything about parenting a teenager the idea never got out of the gate. I still have no idea how to parent a teenager. It has occasionally occurred to me that I wouldn't mind swaddling Jackson, who is now eleven, but only because I think it might make it more of a challenge for him to play Grand Theft Auto IV.
JUST KIDDING I DON'T LET MY SON KILL HOOKERS ONLINE.
I've also felt guilty for drawing a mustache on one of his baby pictures and putting it into Let's Panic!
He said it was okay that I did this -- and please believe me when I tell you that I asked for his permission at least a dozen times before the book went to print -- but then when the book came out he was all, I don't like that you did that! and I was all, Goddamnit I asked you a hundred* times!
I just looked into the bedroom and Peewee was lying on the bed with his head on my pillow, snoring. HE'S NOT DEAD AND I DID NOT KILL HIM, EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT IDEA TWENTY MINUTES AGO. But now I have another idea.
Excuse me while I go register dogswaddling.com.
Rita is doing a giveaway because it's the fifth anniversary of Sleep Is For The Weak and the second anniversary of Let's Panic About Babies! Alice is doing one here, and I am doing it, too, because that seems to be what I do these days, give away books in exchange for you leaving your life story in the comments! It's in honor of Mother's Day, which is coming up pretty soon. If you would like to win a parenting double whammy of Sleep and Panic, leave a comment telling us the thing that worried everyone most about you when you were a kid, and how you grew up to be okay anyway. I mean, yes: unless you're dead we won't really know how it all works out, maybe the urge to put beans up your nose will return when you're 73 and make fools of us all. But if you feel relatively sure you're in the clear, psychologically and spiritually.
UPDATE: Our winner is frequent commenter and long-time Fussy supporter DGM. Thanks to each of you who spilled out a small portion of your guts in contribution to this post.