* Hello, boys and girls.
Well, it’s now officially too late to start drinking, no matter how jittery my stomach is feeling. No matter how wide-awake I just got, no matter how long I have to stare at the dark ceiling until sleep finally claims me.
You know what? That’s bullshit. When I was a little kid, I used to worry about school. Truth be told, I worried about a lot of things. Not in a healthy kind of way, either. Neurotically, that’s how I worried about things. I did that shit up right. Ulcers, baby, when I was in fifth grade. School was the big thing.
See if you can follow this vicious cycle: I would worry about getting good grades. I would lie there in bed, staring into the dark, and I would obsess about making good grades. Then I would start to worry about not getting enough sleep, like what if I fell asleep in class because I was awake all night, worrying.
And then I would start worrying about falling asleep just before morning and not being able to wake up. All this just made me more and more agitated, anxious, nervous, whatever. And then my night would end when my parents finally got sick of listening to me cry and took me to the ER to get sedated. This was not a one-time deal, sadly enough. Can you imagine a little kid actually wanting to get a shot? That’s how I was, man, so ate up that someone jabbing a piece of metal in my arm actually seemed like a decent trade-off for a little sleep.
So I got older, and I decided that I was never going to worry like that again. It works out pretty well, for the most part. Most of the things that want to worry me, I just ignore them. Anything I can’t ignore, I kick the shit out of it. Think about that, Fred Flintstone! Stay out of my bathroom, you mutt!
Uh…just ignore that, okay?
Anyways, so if I find myself staring up at the ceiling, wondering if I’m going to get any sleep at all, I get up. I read a book, I play a little Playstation, whatever. And if I stay up all night? Screw it, man, what’s the worst that’s going to happen? You wake up, see the news, “Apparently the reason that the west coast finally broke off into the ocean was because that Ray guy didn’t go to work like he was supposed to.” Eff Cali—it’s too sunny and the people are too tan and so is the air. Too bad about Oregon, though—I’ve heard it’s pretty nice. Oregon’s over there somewhere, right? Plus, they had that game where you were in the covered wagon, shooting the shit out of all the buffalo and deer and stuff. If you’re too young to remember that game, check this out.
But, no, I will not stay in bed, hoping for sleep, when my body isn’t feeling it. That’s stupid. And you know what? Hockey Stick Jones (the name I have decided on for my child, if I’m ever unfortunate enough to have one) isn’t going to be a huddling pile of worry, either. If she wants to stay up all night and play video games instead of sleep, I’m not going to pressure her into going and getting into bed. I don’t care if it is bad parenting. Sometimes good parenting really messes kids up, I don’t care what the idiots on TV say. I’m not going to force her to lie there in the dark, alone with the monsters.
That’s where they’re at, you know, is in your bedroom in the dark, and usually only when you’re alone. That’s another thing that I’m never going to lie to my kid about. “Are there monsters, Ray?” she’ll ask me.
“Yes, Hockey Stick Jones, yes there are,” I’ll tell her. “But they probably aren’t in your closet like you think. They’re outside and they’re inside.”
“That sounds absolutely terrifying,” she’ll say.
“Oh, for sure. For sure.”
“But what does it mean?”
“Well, outside means out that door.” I’ll point to the front door, because we’ll more than likely be sitting somewhere in the vicinity of it. “There are bad things out there—bad accidents, bad scenes, and bad people. Lots of bad stuff. That’s what we grown-ups call ‘life.’”
And I’ll tap on her little noggin, and I’ll say, “This is where the monsters are on the inside. Right in your head. You’ll be surprised how many you’ll find up there.”
“There are monsters living in my head?” Hockey Stick Jones will shriek.
“Oh, calm down, you little crybaby. We’re talking figuratively here. I hope we are, anyways. Ooh that would be so gross if you had monsters living in your skull. I’d blame it on your mother, I swear: ‘None of my family ever had skull beasts.’ She’d say it was my fault, though, you know she would. Your mom would never take responsibility for the genetic mess it would take to pass down skull beasts.”
“I think we’re getting off the subject here.”
“Yeah, but we’re getting on to a whole new one that is much more exciting. Think of it, Hockey Stick Jones! Skull beasts! If you sneezed too hard, they would escape, causing havoc all over the world.”
“I wish I had a different father.”
“We all wish that. Now go to sleep, my little angel.” And then I’d kiss her on the forehead and stagger off for another bottle of whiskey.
That’s what parenting is really all about I think, is fucking your kid up so bad that you look good in comparison.
By the way, someday I’m going to write a self-help book for parents, and that previous sentence is going to be the first thing you see when you open the book. I don’t care what page you open it up to, either--you’ll see that sentence. It’s going to be in huge print, and everything else will be really small lettering, so that you don’t feel so bad about not really reading the book. You’ll flip through a little, you’ll be like, “Hey, this parenting thing doesn’t seem so hard at all—I’m going out for a beer.”
“What about us, Daddy? We haven’t had supper.”
“Yeah, I’ll probably grab a corn dog from somewhere. I think I saw a pack of M&M’s under the couch, you guys can have that.”
“Little Billy hasn’t had his medicine yet.”
“Yeah, Little Billy needs to cowboy up, then, doesn’t he? What kind of medicine does he take?”
“That’s mostly placebo, anyways. You kids have a good time—I’ll probably be back by morning.”
You’re going to be such a bad parent. I’m not kidding—what were you thinking, leaving those little kids alone, and Little Billy without his injection? Evil, evil, thing!
And your kids, they’ll be so messed up, they’ll probably start some kind of a war, you know that, don’t you? A World War, all because you’re such a dick.
But don’t worry—I forgive you. Because we’re friends. I’ll love you when nobody else will. And if you begin to feel a little brainwashed, don’t even worry about it—you’re just worn out from not having so many friends. But I’m your friend. Sure, I accept you for who you are. Yeah, go ahead and close your eyes. Imagine soothing waterfalls, imagine soft clouds. Just you and I, and if you feel like doing my bidding, that’s fine. You don’t have to, but you can if you want, like if you want to repay me for my kindness. After all, I was the only one to accept you when no one else would.
Oh, come on! I wasn’t really trying to brainwash you! Some people are so sensitive.
So, in closing:
1) Whiskey is good.
2) Bed-time is bad.
3) Monsters are real.
4) Skull beasts are not real...as far as we know.
5) Do my bidding!
* Just a quick bit or trivial trivia: While I was writing this rant, I was interrupted twice. Once was because my princess wanted me to come out to the front room and kill a bug. I got out to the living room and realized that it was not a bug, but a lightening-fast lizard. He was a brownish-orange color, and he moved so fast that without ultra-cool vision, you couldn’t even see him. I caught him under a glass, and then slid a pink piece of construction paper underneath, so that I could take him outside. In the process of doing that, I accidentally tore off his tail, which really screwed me up with guilt, until I realized that lizards are always losing their tails. Then I just felt used and emotionally worn-out.
The second interruption was my mom calling. It was a pretty good talk, but I wish we could have been on the back porch with a couple of beers behind us and a weekend directly in front of us.