When you’re just a kid you look at all the life ahead of you as a series of milestones: I can’t wait to be a teenager. I can’t wait to get my driver’s license. I can’t wait to get a fake driver’s license. I can’t wait to have sex for the first time. I can’t wait to have good sex for the first time. I can’t wait to live away from my parents. I can’t wait to move back in with my parents and have toilet paper again. I can’t wait to get married. I can’t wait to get remarried, and this time to someone with money. I can’t wait to have kids. I can’t wait for the kids to move out.
We all share a handful of universal milestones. The only ones I have left are the kids leaving the house and death.
I’m not looking forward to either.
Our kids recently spent a month in America visiting our families, and my wife and I had a glimpse of our future lives together without the kids. It was a scary prospect. I don’t think we ate a vegetable or went to bed before 1:00AM for a month.
Kids force you to be responsible. You have to get up early so you can get them off to school. You have to prepare a dinner that includes vegetables because one of the greatest rewards of parenting is forcing your kids to eat vegetables. My wife and I will eat broccoli and say, “Mmmm,” in unison and then smile at the kids. And when they take that first bite of broccoli, the look of disgust on their faces is just priceless. My wife and I will exchange a look of satisfaction and I know we’re both thinking the same thing: This is why we do it. This is why we got into parenting.
Kids forced us to be responsible. But I had kind of hoped the responsibility would stick when the kids were no longer around. While the kids were gone we wore every item of clothing we owned before finally surrendering and doing laundry. The kitty litter was only changed right before guests came over. We only went to the grocery store once. Once in a whole month! I’ve forgotten what fruit tastes like.
If the kids ever leave I worry we’ll be dead in 6 months.
While the kids were gone Mrs. Greatsby decided she wanted to paint the kids’ room. We moved the bunk beds away from the wall and found 37 socks underneath. 37 socks! We’re constantly buying them new socks and a week later they’ve disappeared. My wife and I looked at those 37 socks and then exchanged a look, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing: This is not why we do it. This is not why we got into the parenting game.
If the kids leave, whom will we lecture about responsibility? Who will we judge? Who will make us feel superior? Who will provide the foil that makes us look like adults?
Responsibility is just so boring. I’m tired of being an adult. When I picked up the kids at the airport and we were riding home in the taxi, my 9-year-old son The Fonz turned to me and said something profound: “You know what I really like? Fun things.”