“Last one to the car smells like monkey toes” I yell as I hustle the boys out the door. It’s another weekday scurry trying to get out the door to the sitter and off to work on time. After a begrudging battle of wills to get them out of bed, dressed and fed, they are now running to see who can get to the car the fastest. I come around the corner after them to meet my wife’s glare.
“They’ve been pushing each other, fighting, and teasing each other all week so they aren’t the one who smells like a rotten egg when they get to the car last” she states matter of factly. Not exactly the “thank you for getting the boys going” I was hoping for; I get defensive. “I’ve never said anything like that to the boys before. Talk to the babysitter about what she’s teaching them.” I reply as I continue out the door after the boys. As much as I’m willing to own any bad habits my kids pick up from me, the truth is that our babysitter has spent more time raising my kids than I have. According to BabyCenter.com it’s going to cost me $478,000 to raise each of my boys. Yet, the majority of their life will be spent with someone else; either at daycare while I work to pay for their food, clothes, and house or at school. I’m just the landlord they have to answer to at the end of the day. So who’s to blame if they don’t turn out the way I want them to?
Yes it’s my genetics and I can definitely see all the pieces of my personality being expressed in each rebellious tone from the boys. But when can I drag the babysitter or 3rd grade teacher into court and say “it’s your fault my kid turned out crummy”? But it’s not just them. Leave it to Nickelodeon, Disney, or Discovery channel to teach my kids as much behavior as I ever could. Especially since it’s much more interesting to listen to a cartoon then me any day.
And to top it off, one day they’ll be sitting talking to their shrink who will summarize all of their problems with life as “You have issues with your father”. No, Luke Skywalker had issues with his father. My kids should have an issue with Dora the Explorer.
Alas, who is raising my kids? At the end of the day I’m the one who sits at the dinner table inquiring what they did and I’m the one who tucks them in at night. Despite spending the least amount of time with them, it’s my attention they crave and my voice they reckon to. When there’s a movie to watch, it’s dad they come to. When there’s a bike chain to fix, it’s dad they come to. When there’s a bully to confront, it’s dad they come to. When there’s a girl they want to ask out it’s dad they come to. When the same girl breaks their heart… well they go to mom, but dad’s looking over her shoulder.
I know I will continue to get blamed for plenty of idiosyncrasies my children display, but despite what I want to say I am the one raising my kids. I condone or confront all their behavior. And I can’t blame it on the babysitter, teacher, or Mickey Mouse. Any of those parents out there who want to do that are wrong.