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talking sh*t about my kids

A couple weeks ago, my friend Mandy sent me a video of her kid doing something funny, and then immediately expressed remorse because she’d invaded his privacy. I felt respect for Mandy in that moment. But it was the kind of respect I have for people who go on hunger strikes. Whenever I hear about someone on a hunger strike I try really hard to think of an issue I feel strongly enough to starve for, and always come up short. An end to man sandals, maybe.

Before that conversation with Mandy, it had never really occurred to me that my kids had privacy rights that could be violated, least of all by me. Clearly not, because I blog about them. I share details about my kids that will likely anger them in the distant future when they are old enough to read blog posts, although Tom won’t let me write about the really interesting episodes. But I rationalize that I feed them and clothe them, and once this blog really starts making some serious coin, they can take pride of ownership in the family enterprise.

Not going to happen, my friend Courtney likes to tell me. She regularly reminds me that once my kids get older, I’ll have to stop blogging about them. She’s right, of course. Thank God I’ll still be able to write about Tom.

I’ve been feeling badly since noticing recently that I talk a lot of shit about my 3-year old. Tate is very cute. I’m his mom and, being a realist, I’m also prone to suspicions that my kids are less cute than I think they are, but I’m pretty sure he’s objectively cute. And it’s a good thing he’s cute. Because if he wasn’t so cute, I might have left him at Whole Foods months ago, bundled up in a basket with a rolled-up wad of cash and some Legos.

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Finn was 3 at some point. But Finn was never like Tate. There’s the first parenting no-no: comparing your kids. I can’t help it. If you go through an experience once, it’s human nature to expect a similar experience the next time around. Finn was energetic and Cuz remembers that he was mean at that age, but he has always hated getting in trouble. Tate could care less about doing the right thing. I blame this trait on Tom’s Caucasian genes, because Koreans are all about doing the right thing.

I might tell Tate not to kick a ball in the house. He will look at me, give a toothy grin, and then drill me in the face with the ball. I have no tools in my parenting toolkit to deal with stuff like that. I mean, I do, but Tom, being a liberal white person, frowns on spanking. Sometimes I have to pretend like I didn’t feel the ball hit my face, just to buy myself time to figure out what to do. FUCK!, my mind screams. WHAT DO I DO??? During moments like that I swear I can feel the weight of all my Korean ancestors looking down on me and shaking their heads in collective shame.

We worry so much as parents because we love our children more than cheap words can express. I know Tate will be ok. Even in my bleakest moments I have respect for his strong will, a quality I’m still hoping to develop at the age of 36, as related to food and portion control. Also, I try to remember that he’s 3.

This too shall pass. I know that because my friends say so. Friends like Mandy, who love and worry about their own children. And that’s why I talk shit about my kids, I guess. Being honest about how scary parenting can be makes me feel less helpless. It makes me feel less inadequate. It makes me feel less alone.

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57 Comments Post a comment
  1. Again – you made me laugh out loud – my boys are 11 and 13 and the first thing they say when they do something stupid or get themselves in shite is “are you going to blog this mom?” “Not this time but next time I will.” I use my blog as leverage – you can do the same when the boys get older!

    April 15, 2013
    • i hadn’t thought of my blog as a parenting tool. brilliant

      May 16, 2013
  2. Not only does my child consume most of my comedy routine (and I use her first name routinely), I also regularly quote her and talk about her when I emcee various fundraising events around town (typically explaining why I support cause X…because my child, X loves whatever about what is offered. I’m not sure why I’m explaining all of this other than the fact that I think in this digital age, it’s part of the game. With that said, my child is not one to like center stage and routinely reminds me “not to talk” when I chaperone a field trip because my normal practice is to walk on the bus and start a group sing-a-long. Totally nonsensical comment. Apologies.

    April 6, 2013
    • you sound like the queen of all field trip mothers. i showed up for a field trip one day to have my child 1) ignore me, 2) refuse to hold my hand in line, and 3) decide instead to hold the hand of a favorite teacher, who was very foxy

      May 16, 2013
  3. Haha!!!! Being Japanese, I’m totally understanding this post! I support your tough love Asian Mommy approach! My friend said the other day about her toddler, “Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s some days that I just want to throw her out the window!!!”. Kidding of course, but still hilarious!!!!

    April 5, 2013
    • i don’t say stuff like that. if i did i’d be talking all day

      May 16, 2013
  4. I like the comment about buying yourself time. I once heard someone say that counting to three when you want your kids to do something just trains kids to wait until your done counting to listen instead of listening right away. Yesterday, I found myself counting once again as I frantically scrambled to figure out a logical consequence if my three year old did not come back like I asked him to. I suddenly decided that counting is brilliant because it buys us three long seconds to figure out what to do.

    April 5, 2013
    • I can see their point, but it depends what the consequences of the counting are, and how you enforce them. With my two, if I reached three, I would physically intervene and make the kids do or stop doing whatever it was. In the example you used, you would go after him and physically bring him back, kicking and screaming if necessary. You would then hold tightly to his hand and make him stay with you.
      I also only used counting as a last resort. They learned fast that if mom said “ONE!”, she meant it. My daughter is now 17, and there have been times recently when she’s been pushing my buttons that I’ve looked at her and said, “Brianna, that’s ONE!”, and she’s stopped dead in her tracks.

      April 6, 2013
  5. My kid’s not old enough for me to really be able to talk shit about him, but I see that coming one day. I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with that – you clearly love them (and Tom) and it’s all for the humor! I very much admire your blog.

    April 5, 2013
  6. Oh gosh. Reading this post makes me want kids even less now. I’ve been trying to get over not wanting kids since I’m 31 years old already, hahahah. :p

    April 5, 2013
  7. My toughest kid was pretty darn awful in terms of sheer willfulness and disregard for other humans, but as he has aged, instead being the toughest, he has become the easiest in many ways — still prone to mood swings but his interest in doing the right thing has increased exponentially. I am sure it will be the same for yours.

    April 4, 2013
    • i really enjoy comments like this. they just make me feel better. every brat reformed is a success story i can get behind.

      April 4, 2013
  8. Karen #

    Why is it that the first kid is all about the rules, and the 2nd one is all about breaking them? My Sophie will sweetly ask what the rule is, then smile,
    Look me straight in the eye, and break it – the soccer ball in the face. First kid would NEVER do that. Leaves me breathless, every time. Maybe that’s the point….

    April 4, 2013
    • look, if the first kid was like that we’d never have the second. that’s my explanation for the phenomenon

      April 4, 2013
  9. its so funny what you said about comparing kids. I think everyone does it. you can’t help it. neither of my boys were or are easy. But Liam is afraid of consequences. he will stop doing something if I am going to snap. Not Quinn, he will take the beating everytime. He just has to do it. there are other ways that Quinn is great. He is much more affectionate with other people than Liam was. Quinn will hug and kiss anyone all day. Liam has said he was too old for that since he was 3 and Quinn is compassionate and generous, where Liam is jealous and always wondering if someone got more than his share. See, now I compared and I feel terrible. thank God my third one is a girl, I can’t compare them. lol

    April 4, 2013
    • You compared but note that you were even steven in the amount of bad to good for each child. That’s what we do. You are absolved

      April 4, 2013
      • Wow. I didn’t even realize I was even Steven. I bet we do that subconsciously, which is even scarier lol

        April 4, 2013
  10. Courtney #

    Jeez, a lot of your blog readers are named Courtney.

    I actually think you should print out hard copies w/ color photos and make books for your boys of your columns that are about them and food they eat and like. One day they’ll really treasure it. I wouldn’t rub their face in it at age 12 when it won’t feel like a time that’s far away, but it’s cool that this is forming a record of a period that is really very much a blur to me.

    As I mentioned today, it gets scarier. In about 10 years you can just convert Yoonanimous to an exclusively food and fashion blog and call it good.

    I thought that little stinker Tate was sure cute earlier today. Both the boys are just great–Finn because he’s such a weird knock off of Tom and Tate because he’s just so stinking cute. Hope Tate is on the mend.

    April 4, 2013
    • I have thought many times about how my blog entries will comfort me in the near future when I can’t remember anything about my kids’ childhood. That’s the reason why I try to be honest, to keep the record clean for my future delectation. Tate seems much better. Thanks for talking to him today. I think he prefers people like you who don’t have a “kid” voice, you know, who don’t talk to him like he’s a baby

      April 4, 2013
  11. I think the best thing as a parent you can be is honest with other parents, stops us all feeling shit about ourselves.

    April 4, 2013
    • that should be the title of my blog

      April 4, 2013
      • It’s just good to read some honesty, I felt horrendous as a mum when people looked aghast at my un home-made pureed carrot for my baby girl! 15 years later, I care not!!

        April 6, 2013
  12. I think a family is like a micro-cosmos of weirdness. All that cuteness and unpredictability and rage and helplessness — how would anyone cope? I don’t think you really talk sh*t about your kids, it’s more that you are just expressing what we all feel and validating that it’s okay to feel like that.

    April 4, 2013
    • We all know people who never say anything bad about their kids. Never. It always stresses me out and I act very unnaturally around them. Also it’s boring to hear about other people’s perfect children. That’s what your spouse is for

      April 4, 2013
  13. I got over that by using synonyms, and let’s face it I can’t get anyone I know to read my blog for love nor money. Venting to strangers is oddly comforting!

    April 4, 2013
  14. As a non-parent, I watch people and think, “GOD, that must be annoying to deal with all day long,” so actually hearing someone admit it isn’t shocking. My husband was a “spirited” child and has told me story after story of him being difficult. I think he takes pride in it. So, if he could read stories on the internet of how he annoyed his mother, he’d be stoked. I bet Tate will think it is hilarious one day how he threw balls at your face and made you swear internally.

    April 4, 2013
    • let’s hope he finds it funny. I do take comfort in the fact that Tom sounds like he was a perfect hellion growing up, and he’s turned out very law-abiding

      April 4, 2013
  15. I love the honesty in your blog. I have one kid that has driven me to distraction since the day she was born. She is brilliant, but she has always been an extra bit ornery. We blamed it on the fact that she was the only girl out of the four. She has just been hell bent for being a bit “extra much” since as long as I can remember. She decided to “skate” around on Desitin ointment in the carpet in our rental house, when she was three. She climbed into the fireplace, trying to get to the sky at the top. It took a lot of Dawn dish soap to get the soot washed off! She would bite her baby brother on his little apple-cheeks when she said she was going to kiss him! The list could go on all day. I am happy to report I did not beat her. I did spank her a few times and her teenage angst and tantrums were magnificent displays of tears and rage. She is nearly 21 now, living in an apartment, loved by all who know her. She is funny and creative and always making waves in her world. You just gotta have faith that they will get through it. The willfullness in your little guy will serve him well in the future. Breathe, Mom! It will be okay.
    BTW, in my objective opinion – they are both absolutely darling boys! You can never love them too much!

    April 4, 2013
    • oh man that desitin story is funny. desitin sounds as scary as aquaphor in its destructive qualities. I am certain I will probably spank the kids in future. Best to save it for the times I’m really screwed

      April 4, 2013
  16. Heidi #

    I think I mentioned in a previous comment on one of your posts about how we (and many of our friends with same age boys) all agreed that the 3s were the terribles, not the 2s. You may have had an amazingly mellow 3 year old with Finn, so give yourself a break with Tate. By everything I’ve observed, his awful behavior is totally normal at 3 and it DOES pass! My older boy is now 8 (and in an amazingly awesome stage) and my younger almost 5, and entering some new awesomeness, though both still have their rough edges for sure. The third year is just extra tough for some reason, I think. A combination of a strong will and the ability to carry out a plan, without the addition of empathy or understanding consequences: dangerous. I’m a teensy bit jealous of your fun 6 year old boy – a 6 year old girl (or mine at least) is so. much. drama.

    April 4, 2013
    • 4 was the hellacious year with Finn. But I’ve heard the same about 3 year olds from other parents, so I do take comfort in the shared misery. I wish my boys wouldn’t beat each other up but the girls their age seem much crueler mentally for some reason

      April 4, 2013
  17. They are both objectively super cute in my opinion. I especially enjoy their style choices.

    April 4, 2013
    • when i packed for vegas i gleefully left out all their sports jerseys and gym shorts and rediscovered how stylish they can be when they aren’t dressed like larry bird

      April 4, 2013
  18. Oh h•e• double hockey sticks… I blog about my kids and they are teenagers… I generally don’t use their pictures and use their nicknames but all in all I don’t think it will kill them. I LOVE your blog and yes Tate is freaking adorable! But so is Finn just in a different way!

    April 4, 2013
    • finn is so awesome right now that i feel guilty even talking about him in relation to tate. six is AWESOME

      April 4, 2013
  19. Courtney #

    talking sh*t about your kids is one of the reasons i love your blog: you are honest and write exactly what I have thought (and dear me, even let slip out in my weakest moments). It’s nice to know other moms think and feel the same way I do. Motherhood can be rough! And it helps that you put a humourous sping on it all … I can laugh away my anxiety that I am raising sociopaths or narcisists. Keep up the most excellent work!

    April 4, 2013
    • i appreciate that two people here have mentioned the word “sociopath” in relation to their kids. we are indeed not alone

      April 4, 2013
  20. Oh god, yes, all of this. I don’t have two kids so I can’t compare them but I do, on the other hand, compare mine to my best friend’s daughter who is the same age.

    I also shit-talk about my 3-year-old and have said, out loud, to my husband’s grandmother, that I was fairly sure my daughter was a sociopath. (We were having a particularly *GREAT* day!) I also tell people all the time that 3-year-olds are assholes.

    Mother of the Year, right here!

    April 4, 2013
    • having a friend with a kid the same age is very, very rough. especially if the kid can do things that your kid can’t. it is human to compare. right before bed after a really hard day with tate, tom and i will just look at each other and sigh in mutual despair

      April 4, 2013
  21. I hear you! I started blogging when my own kid was eight and we took our adventure around the world. For many reasons she was the focus of a lot of entries, only b/c what was happening to us was in direct relations to having her along. I still blogged about her when we pulled her out of a school in 7th grade (very traumatic at the time) and now only write about her in the most benign ways because she has established such a strict zone of privacy. So don’t worry, the blogging you do about your kids now isn’t going to cramp their need to tell you to go the f*%k away, they will tell you when it isn’t cool to write/speak/acknowledge you are their parent in any way.
    The funny thing is that all kids can be assholes at some time or another and for us writer parents it may be the most sane, legal way to process their behavior. In the meantime I’m reduced to talking about my dog. Thanks to me he has such a rich inner dialog going on.

    April 4, 2013
    • i do enjoy hearing about your dog and seeing his cute mug on FB. let’s be honest, if i’m still blogging in five years it will be a miracle

      April 4, 2013
  22. OH how I loved this post! You are my new honest hero! lol I’m in my 40’s and my oldest daughter is 28. I’m still raising a 14 year old and I can tell you that after 4 girls… I’m not long for this world. Heaven, take me away! lol Seriously though, privacy for a child? Does NOT exist in this house. I’m with you, sister. Oh and BTW… I’m 100% white and expect my kids to behave and WILL spank, even my grandkids if they kick a ball in my face! lol You are a good and patient woman to look the other way and your husband is a very blessed man because if it were me? I’d kick the ball in Hubby’s face if he wouldn’t ALLOW me to spank. Oh how I pity the man… But anyway, thanks for being so honest and for the laugh!

    April 4, 2013
    • Girls! Much respect. I do think privacy should exist, which is why I don’t post certain pics of them or tell stories like how they ate a booger at that one dinner party (fictional example of course). The point that Mandy made that really spoke to me is that in respecting our kids’ privacy maybe the goal is teach them how important it is to respect the privacy of others–a crucial thing in this age of Facebook and twitter and all the rest. Modeling good behavior is a huge challenge for me but I’m trying to improve…

      April 4, 2013
      • HAHA! Well, I don’t post about boogers or of certain other things and definiitely no naked pics.. BUT as their life affects MY life, yes I DO post. I think common sense is a good thing. Although I AM guilty of not using common sense sometimes 😉

        April 4, 2013
  23. I love this immensely!!! You are human and talking “shit” about your kids is in fact, human. We worry we will ruin our children’s evolutions through our weaknesses…..I believe loving them with everything is the greatest key and showing then our human parts….You are awesome and hilarious!! I appreciate mothers who are vulnerable and who have a sense of humor about it all !!!

    April 4, 2013
    • My kids see a lot of my human parts, that’s for sure. My vulnerability makes me relatable. I cling to that because otherwise I feel like a weak, sorry mom. Thanks for the comment.

      April 4, 2013
  24. dawniemikkelson #

    “Tags: Tiger moms” (ha)

    Love. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. And thoroughly relate. Also, fact: your kids are objectively insanely cute!

    April 4, 2013
  25. Kids don’t arrive ready trained, nor do you get a manual for them. As you say indirectly, they’re all different and unique, I still remember the old adage I was schooled with when I was a child, way back when, spare the rod and spoil the child. I think the odd spank for causing physical harm to a person is a good teacher as long as the face, head and neck are kept off limits. The fact that so many teens and young adults are out of control, IMHO, is because corporal punishment is now illegal. Gone are the days when a copper could give you a kick up the backside, not literally, and a stiff talking to so you would be too scared to commit any crime in the future.

    April 4, 2013
    • You and I came from the same world… I completely agree with you!

      April 4, 2013
      • Thanks Michelle, I wish our politicians would wake up to this fact.

        April 5, 2013
      • Yeah, me too!

        April 9, 2013
    • Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spanked Tate. Like less than five times but I’ve done it. It works like a charm, and therein lies the danger, at least for me. So tempting to spank him all the time, but I can’t imagine spanking him when he’s bigger than me so I need to develop other tools. Like mind games.

      April 4, 2013
      • Mind games and reverse psychology are good tools to have and use, if you only spank him occasionally then you’ll still have that in your arsenal until he outgrows you at any rate.

        April 5, 2013
  26. “Tags: tiger moms.”

    Love. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. And thoroughly relate. Also, fact: your children are objectively insanely cute.

    April 4, 2013
    • I fear that I am like a meek kitty mom. It keeps me up nights. Thanks for validating my hopes re their cuteness

      April 4, 2013

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