Ever since Anne-Marie Slaughter posited “Women Can’t Have It All” in 2012, every group out there has been asking themselves if they do/can have it all. Including parents.
Can moms have it all? Can dads have it all? Can working parents have it all? Can stay-at-home parents have it all? Can all the kids of parents trying to have it all possibly end up having it all themselves? Frankly, between talk of “having it all” and “leaning in,” I’m a little put out. I mean hey, I appreciate quality discourse as much as the next guy, but have you really stopped to think about the question of having it all and what it is we’re really asking?
I did. And I believe merely entertaining the notion that we can possibly have it all is arrogance of the highest order.
What’s one of the first things you do when your kids hit an important milestone? If you’re anything like me, you post it on social media.
One of the best parts about having kids is watching them grow, and there is no span of time that sees as much rapid progress as the first year of life. From the time they start grabbing things to rolling over to taking their first steps, kids are maturing at warp speed and social media allows us to document these milestones and celebrate them with our friends and family members on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Well, it SHOULD be a celebration, but that’s not always the case. Mainly because a lot of parents are judgmental, sanctimonious pricks.
I remember being a normal person.
Well, not totally normal. I’ve always been a freak show. But at the very least I used to carry on halfway normal conversations with people. They’d say something, I’d respond, they’d come back with something else, and on and on it would go. Naturally. The way conversations are supposed to happen.
Unfortunately I’ve recently realized having kids turns you into someone completely incapable of having a normal conversation. Tell me if the following sounds familiar.
King of the Rock
Last Saturday was one of those picture perfect autumn afternoons that is wonderfully unique to New England.
The weather was cool and crisp, requiring a sweater in the morning and short-sleeves during the day. Summer hasn’t quite left your system but you can feel the fall wind prickling your senses as winter looms just out of sight. The leaves on the trees suddenly turn to fire and bright yellow. Then the dried leaves fall to the ground where the autumn breeze scrapes them along the roads and sidewalks.
For approximately 4-5 weekends in September and October — after the leaves turn color but before the Halloween parties commence — all of New England turns out for an annual event that is a prerequisite for anyone living in the area. Apple picking.
So what does apple picking have to do with raising an animal, television, and my parental humiliation?
“Dad, why do some people not like other people with darker skin?”
The question, asked by 5-1/2-year-old Will, came out of the blue from far left-field and it stopped MJ and I dead in our tracks. Scratch that, that’s an understatement. It was more like he unintentionally wielded that question as if swinging around a 2 x 4 that ended up smacking us right between the eyes. And the looks on our faces must’ve conveyed that, because he took one look at our reactions and started to cry because he thought he was in trouble.
After calming him down and reassuring him he was not in any trouble, we first sought to figure out where this came from. He said he remembered hearing something to that effect at a business we used to frequent occasionally, but left when the owner began spewing — you guessed it — incredibly racist remarks. He was only 4 the last time we were there and I didn’t think he picked up on it. But, as always with these sponges we call children, they absorb an incredible amount of information even when they can’t totally comprehend all of it.
All of this to say I was faced with the heart-wrenching task of explaining racism to my young son. And that ain’t easy.