Dramatis Personae

Dear J-

It’s easy enough to judge every day, all the time. That car that just cut you off on the freeway? The one who sped up just to get one car length ahead? Idiot. Reckless idiot. How about that bicyclist wearing tight shorts? Or dressing in dark clothes at night? Darwin’s law, man, all’s I’m saying. The waitress is a little slow? How about the person that lets their kid cry on the plane? Or leaves them to run around? Or doesn’t have the most perfectly behaved children all the time? Yeah. PUNY HUMANS. I pity the parent who doesn’t have perfect automaton clones running around, adults dressed up in miniature suits and ready to carry on conversations at a lofty discussion level (“yes, but can you tell me how Ferb’s id plays a role in his desire to improve the world through new inventions?”).

I know that I’m guilty of it too: that we should have (or shouldn’t have) kids that are kids, loud and tactless and all the things that made me recoil in horror when I was seeing parents with kids, judging with accusatory stares and ye olde stink-eye (where’s my scarlet letter K?), trying to silently shame them into behaving. And then I realized something else: this is kind of fun. We’ve been so loud and excited in lines at Disneyland that other kids turn around and stare in amazement (this doesn’t make up for the lack of sleep the night before in some Anaheim hotel, vowing in the dark to never share a room with them again, ever ever ever, only to forget that resolution every time I price hotels).

I need to remind myself fairly often to enjoy the ride. It’s like Caltrain: we’ll get there, and you’ll see familiar people along the way, but there’s always new faces and unique situations, like how I … you know, this is a terrible analogy, I’m sorry.

I need to remind myself fairly often to enjoy the journey. If I tell myself I’m just along for the ride it makes me feel powerless to affect it and that’s the biggest mistake of all. I have the greatest effect on my own attitude, after all. My kids are loud. I don’t have to be ashamed. Until, of course, that spills over into being a bad houseguest (which we have been, every time we stay over with someone else; the kids have spilled both water and unspecified body fluids (okay, pee) on the floor in equal measures) and we leave ashamedly no longer welcome because otherwise damnit we try to be polite people. But otherwise, I feel defiant and invincible and prone to laughter at how embarrassed they tell me I should be: you have no idea how hilarious this life is.

Mike

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