I have three kids. They don’t fucking listen. One day, God as my witness, they will listen. They will stop, turn around, not talk for five seconds, and say to me, “Wow, I never thought of it that way before. Thanks, Dad!” I swear it will happen. I will destroy entire countries if I have to make it so. But until then, every last bit of handy, fatherly wisdom I have to impart on these people goes right down a fucking black hole. It’s nothing but CAN I HAVE A TWIZZLER?! in response to anything I say.
Now, they tell you in any parenting class to manage your children with tools other than nagging. You can write them notes. You can give them disapproving looks. You can say just one or two words (“BEDTIME”) and have that be more effective than some rambling lecture. I get all of that and do my best to not repeat myself. But my God … sometimes … sometimes I have no choice but to say the same goddamn thing over and over again, hoping to implant the idea of normal behavior deep insides their brains. I WILL GET THERE. If I need to use a power drill, I will get there. Here are 14 things that, in a bind, I am reduced to begging of my children daily:
1. “Close the door.” How fucking hard is it to close a door? Why are you standing IN the doorway? A door is not a toy. You know what? Leave the door open. Just get away from it so that I can close it. That’s all I ask.
This applies to all doors, by the way. Children will open a fridge door and keep it open for hours at a time. I can’t tell you how debilitating this is. All the food will go bad, you little fucker. CLOSE THE DOOR.
2. “Where is your mother?” Where the hell did she go? Did she lock herself in the closet to hide from you? I’ve done that. She’s not allowed to steal my moves, man. All of you conspired to start screaming the second she left the room. Where is she? I need her to drag at least two of you away. Preferably the big ones.
3. “SHHHHHHHHH.” God dammit, why you gotta be so loud? We’re at a funeral.
4. “Sit.” For five seconds. Please. Just sit while you eat. After that, you can go toilet paper the neighborhood for all I care. My kids are incapable of sitting. You should see the moves they can put on a chair. Everything but their ass goes in the seat. It’s mind-boggling. Don’t you know how chairs work? Is it really that comfortable to do a perma-handstand on the thing?
5. “Careful!” You’re juggling knives! YOU SHOULD BE MORE CAUTIOUS ABOUT THAT. Please be careful around the other children when you’ve got that cleaver up in the air. Why don’t we go for a safe, slow ride on a pontoon boat instead? OMG NOT WITH YOUR FEET!
6. “You’re fine.” All right, so you juggled the knives, and now half your hand is missing. YOU ARE FINE. Relax. Don’t freak out. You can’t get upset over every little thing, man. My denial of your pain will toughen you up in the long run. If I tell you that you are okay, it is so. WALK IT OFF.
7. “We’ll see.” Oh, you want that dog? We’ll see. Disneyworld this year? We’ll see. You’re demanding $500 for picking up those Legos? Hmmm … let me pretend to contemplate that in order to postpone your tantrum for a later date. WE WILL SEE, WE WILL. Are you now placated?
8. “Almost there.” Not far now! All I have to do is invent time travel and erase the final, interminable 20 miles of this road trip, and we’ll be home before you know it!
9. “NO NO NO DON’T EAT THAT.” Not in your mouth OH JESUS.
10. “Now say you’re sorry.” We do NOT amputate our friend’s toes with a cigar cutter. That is mean. Now tell little Timmy you’re sorry for what you’ve done. And use these paper towels to clean up the mess.
11. “Did you pee/poop/wash your hands after pooping?” No? Go do that.
[Child goes to the bathroom, returns.]
“Did you do it?”
[Child shakes head.]
“THEN WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING IN THERE?!”
12. “God dammit.”
13. “Well, where’s the last place you had it?” Your room? It’s not in your room. You are an unreliable narrator.
14. “Please.” Please … just… just please put on your underwear. Please leave the dog alone. Please be good. Please say please. Please please please please let me know I’m doing this right. Please.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew’s book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Illustration by Jim Cooke.