Monday, August 24, 2009

Prisoner of Parenting

I know that I lead a good and wonderful life. I am happy that I am a mother. I love my child and the fullness she brings to my life. But honestly? Sometimes I can't believe the psychological damage a child can inflict! In fact, being a parent and being a Prisoner of War share some remarkable similarities.

Think about it. In war, humiliation is a tactic to demoralize a POW. They're given no privacy for bathing and elimination. In a truly horrific facility, they might be targeted with urine or feces. Man, that sounds like infancy and toddlerhood! There were weeks when every day I got peed on. And if you think I can use the restroom in peace today, my six-year-old will gladly set you straight.

Another psychological demoralizer: good-guy/bad-guy tactics. My daughter's picked up on this one. When she gets in trouble or if I do something she doesn't like (today? I sent the neighbor kids home so we could prepare for a trip to the library), she first complains about how everyone is mean to her and how no one loves her, and just when I've about reached the point where I'm about to deliver my dad's famous "If you want something to cry about, I'll give you something to cry about" line, she switches gears. It's time for the "I'm so terrible! I can't do anything right! I'm the worst daughter in the world!" pitch. It crushes my spirit into the dirt.

Inconsistency. Gotta keep those prisoners on their toes. The minute we left the house, the kid was holding my hand and telling me a story. No tears. A big grin on her face. All trauma forgotten, at least for the next few hours.

But I didn't use the bathroom while we out. No sir. I'm too smart for that. Those public bathroom stalls leave plenty of room for the little monster to crawl into my stall and talk about my "marshmallow tummy." You haven't lived until an entire public restroom's worth of women know your kid thinks you're chubby.

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