Things I Never Thought I’d Say: An Open Letter To My Kids

An Open Letter To My Kids

When I asked my teen to pick up his dirty sock, I didn’t realize I’d have to specify that it not be left on the kitchen counter. I never thought I’d be telling him that I know how many days in a row he’s spent at my house by how many pairs of dirty socks I find stuffed in my couch. Or that I would have to hold a mock funeral in the backyard with a marked grave for single socks as a passive-aggressive attempt to get my kids to keep track of the dirty sock mates and get them into the hamper.

When I look back at the very beginning of my long journey as a parent, there are hundreds of thousands of things I never thought I’d say. Parenting seems to be 98% talking. 70% of that is repeating myself, while a solid 10% is just plain bizarre requests. I have not yet accepted that part of parenting though, and feel like there are just so very many things I should not have to say.

13YO: Can my brother do that? I’m dealing with pain here.
ME: Oh stop. I’m dealing with pain here… the pain of parenthood.

Dearest Children,

I should not have to say, “Your brother’s testosterone has not contaminated our Snickerdoodles” or that the skin between my toes is not committing suicide. I feel like it’s not respectful to hold my Coke between your legs just because you claim to like cold things on your femoral arteries. And tonight I’m going to need you to stand back about five feet because you’re sucking up all my oxygen.

We need some new boundaries here.

To my youngest, I’ve accepted that you’re a fairly rabid preschooler and most of it makes sense to me, but I’m not sure why you’re yelling at the freezer like it’s alive and licking the ice packs. Or throwing things down the stairs and yelling at them for ‘falling.’ Insanity would be arguing with a stubborn toddler who turns up the toaster, then yells at me for being ‘naughty’ and burning the food. Sometimes instead of telling you to stop, I feel like I just need popcorn for this show.

“That’s a lotta booger” is not really something I enjoy waking up to hearing you say with your finger hovering above my face. If I say, “I don’t understand you,” I’m probably not looking for you to try to explain yourself. I know it’s hard to resist, but your brother’s head wasn’t meant to be a cushion. And asking a male, “WHY ARE YOU NAKED AGAIN?!” meant something so much different before I was the mom of little boys.

To my oldest, I willingly let you borrow my car, but moving my seat is punishable by death in 30 countries. What good is it having a teenager if you won’t save me from big bugs? I mean, what am I feeding you for then? Sometimes I think you’re getting so mature but then you tell me you truly believe someone who told you there are cases of normal women impregnating themselves… and you didn’t mean by artificial means, but biological.

I really don’t like reminding you in public not to mention the size of my underwear or to have to tell you again to “Stop penising people!” even if that caused the truly inspired family breakout quote of 2012. That one time when you were three and I had to replace a toothbrush because you proudly exclaimed to your brother that you had used his to brush your penis was thankfully only a one-time event, but I still think I should not have to say for the fifth time today to take your hands out of your pants and stop yelling, “I’M PLAYING WITH MY PENIS!”

Ignoring me just cannot be good for public safety. And I really don’t like heavy discipline, so when you laughed because I told you to fear me, that was not cool. Neither is when you force me to say, “Don’t make me hurt both of our eyeballs with my icy glare.” I take no responsibility for telling you to “shut your pie hole” because you took me to that edge. It looks like I’m definitely going to have to add a huge sigh to the disapproving look I’ve been giving you all day.

Stop telling the toddler that he was ‘born from mom’s poop’ and no, I’m just not interested in using real snail slime to moisturize my skin. I know you’re really short, but does my ass have to be in every single photo you took at the zoo? And why did I hear a click while I was in the shower and you say something like, “Whaaat? I took pitch-chew!” then run off laughing like a maniac?

Some moms have trouble with kids drinking out of the milk or juice jug, but you got busted drinking out of the applesauce. I should not have to tell you to “Stop talking about titties. You have reached your titty talking limit for the day.” I think it should go without saying that you don’t need to tell me the chocolate I’m eating has on average seven bug legs in it. And I certainly shouldn’t have had to ask you to use a metal spatula to clean up the chocolate pudding you dropped because it hardened into a cookie. I do not get why the concept ‘pick up after myself so mom’s head doesn’t explode into my cereal’ is so hard to understand.

“DO NOT SEND MAGGOTS TO YOUR GIRLFRIEND” is an intervention not published in any parenting manual I know. Also, dearest boys, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. You only have two of them. Eyeballs don’t grow back just because we have insurance. And while we’re on the medical subject, I never ever want to say again, “Go ahead and lick that. I’m pretty sure lead poisoning comes with some really cool side effects” or to remind you that taking such a hot bath might hard-boil your testicles.

When talking to you about morality and being good people, I didn’t think I’d have to say that you’re too pretty for prison to get my point across better. It was also way too effective but short-lived when I started saying, “Ssshh, you’re too pretty to speak” and “Hush now, you’re too pretty to quibble” to get you to stop arguing with me. And finally, I should not have to say that the key to happiness is just two little words: “Yes, Mom.”

And after reading this open letter, I should not have to say to you that I’m the mom of four boys. At least most of that is pretty evident. Bare cupboards, heavy sighing, a house that smells like a dirty shoe, and too many kids? I’m practically Old Mother Hubbard. And now I know why other mammals eat their young.

There are some obscure things to love about being the mom of boys though. Like when they yell, “I’m dragon jousting on Uranus!” or “I had to flick a pygmy.” In the end, you resign yourself to the never-ending fart jokes and realize that little boys need to be smothered. With love I mean.

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