The Worst Daddy in the World

Worst Daddy in the World

That’s me, baby. All you other daddies out there who thought you were the worst? IN YOUR FACE! YEAH!

This distinction wasn’t bestowed upon me during an official awards ceremony, and, as far as I know, there isn’t actually a trophy or plaque or certificate that I can use to proudly display this honor, but it is a noteworthy accomplishment, nonetheless.

I had a hunch that I was a serious contender for Worst Daddy in the World, because, yesterday afternoon, while Wonder Woman was at a doctor’s appointment, I overheard Zan and Jayna having a candid discussion about me.

“And I’m crossing Daddy off,” said Zan, referring to some kind of list they were using as part of their pretend play, “because he’s mean.”

“Yeah,” said Jayna. “He’s a meanie.”

Yes! My plan was working! You see, just a moment or two prior, I had heard Zan yelling at Jayna because he was pretending he was going on a business trip, and the stairs leading down to the playroom were the airplane — and Jayna, who was pretending to be his wife, wanted to go on the business trip with him, so she had seated herself on the airplane as well.

“Jayna, go back down the stairs. I’m going on a business trip alone!

“But wifes can come, Zan!” [Yes, she said “wifes,” not “wives”; she’s 3, and I’m going for realism here.]

“No, they can’t!” he told her with all the conviction of a beaten-down, 50-something salesman whose one joy in life is traveling solo to the annual beaten-down, 50-something salesmen’s convention in Vegas. “Now move! Move, Jayna!”

“Zan,” I said as I opened the bathroom door while still seated on the toilet, (I know: too much information … but I’m trying to make a point here, OK? You folks who don’t yet have children, take note: there is no break from parenting. You must continue to do it at even the most inconvenient and inopportune of moments.) “If you want to be alone, then you can go play in your room.”

“But Daddy, I’m going on a business trip and wifes can’t come!” [Again with the “wifes.”]

“You heard what I said, Zan. If you want to be alone, you can be alone in your room, but you can’t tell Jayna she’s not allowed to be on the stairs.”

“Yeah, well, you’re not in charge of me!”

“Actually, Zan, I am. You may not like that, but I’m your father and I am in charge of you! Now do as I say!,” I said, sounding like a complete dick whose brilliant plan for dealing with a belligerent 5-year-old was to act like a belligerent 5-year-old.

“Fine!” he replied. “Now just close the door! Close it, Daddy! You’re embarrassing me!”

Because our house is so small, opening the door to our closet-like bathroom while the kids were playing on the stairs that lead down to the playroom essentially placed them in the bathroom with me, and Zan—who, lately, is embarrassed by anything and everything Wonder Woman and/or I do, regardless of how innocuous that thing might be (granted, I can understand him not wanting to see me sitting on the toilet, but still)—was clearly uncomfortable with that arrangement.

So I closed the door, and, a moment later, heard the “because he’s a mean meanie” exchange outlined above.

A short while later, while the three of us were playing in Zan’s room, I just had to ask.

“So, guys, I heard you saying that you think I’m mean,” I said. “Is that really how you feel?”

“Mmmm no,” said Zan the Appeaser.

“Um, sometimes you’re mean, and sometimes you’re not mean, right?” said Jayna cheerfully.

Perfect. With the groundwork now laid, the Worst Daddy in the World award clearly was within reach.

The big moment came at dinner time this evening when the Wonder Twins started fighting over the cheese grater before Wonder Woman and I had even sat down.

“I want to put the cheese in!” yelled Zan.

“No, I want to!” countered Jayna as they played Tug of War with the grater.

“Stop,” I said. “Right now. Just stop.”

As I spoke, I placed my hand on the grater.

“I said ‘Stop.’ Both of you. Now let go,” I instructed them.

Pop quiz: Who here thinks they stopped and let go? Wow. Not too many of you. So, you folks with your hands up, you don’t have kids, right? OK, you’re excused.

Despite already having my hand on the item being fought over, and standing almost between the two of them, Jayna still managed to get her finger in the cheese-goes-in-here opening, and Zan still managed to subsequently pinch her finger badly with the hold-the-cheese-against-the-rotating-grater thingamajig, which, of course, caused The Screaming to begin. So I scooped the crying, screaming Jayna up in my left arm and grabbed the grater with my right hand, snatching it away from Zan as I scolded him.

“I told you to stop, and you didn’t listen! Now look what happened!” I said (yelled?) sternly, then turned away from the table, placed the grater on the counter and carried Jayna out of the room.

And then …

“OK, Worst Daddy in the World!” Zan hollered, his voice cracking and tears welling up in his eyes.

Yes! I did it! It took a little work, but in the end, I was the big winner! Yay, me!

But seriously, folks …

Part of why they’ve formed a sometimes not-entirely-glowing picture of me stems from me not being willing to put up with some of the shit that Wonder Woman is willing to tolerate, thus making me Bad Cop. I can live with that.

Some of it, however, stems from me working insane hours the past week-and-a-half while covering for my vacationing co-worker, and trying to keep up a world-class blog on top of it all, two endeavors that have completely eliminated my prospects for getting a good night’s sleep, or exercising, or spending any quality time with my wife or kids.

All of this has left me rather frazzled and short-fused, which does very little to enhance my parenting skills or my ability to tolerate screaming or crying or whining or fighting. Those things are a struggle for me under the best of circumstances, which this schedule I’m keeping clearly isn’t.

Time to get a little balance in my life.

Unfortunately, I don’t foresee striking that balance until, like, April, as my stint covering for my vacationing co-worker doesn’t end until a week from today, and my four-night stay in Austin, Texas, to cover the annual SXSW Music Festival begins a week from tomorrow.

But Saturday, Wonder Woman is presenting at a conference in Boston, so I’ll have the kids to myself for the day, and I plan to make the most of it. With any luck, they’ll strip me of my Worst Daddy in the World award.

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29 Comments

  1. peter
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    oh thank god there’s another one.

  2. Posted March 11, 2009 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, I have been the Worst Mommy in the world so many times I lost count! I hope you get some well needed balance soon!

  3. Posted March 11, 2009 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Wear it with pride. You’re their parent, not their friend. Your job is to shape them into independent, happy adults that other adults will want to be around. That means lots of this sort of thing in the short term.

    If I don’t get at least one “I HATE YOU!” every couple of months, I figure it means I’m not doing my job. I know he loves me.

  4. Posted March 11, 2009 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I once heard that you shouldn’t consider yourself a good parent until your children tell you that they hate you! This just means that you are being their parent and not their friend and not bending the rules just so they’ll like you.

    In my opinion, that makes you THE BEST DAD IN THE WORLD!

  5. Posted March 11, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Great story! Kids always seem to have to learn the hard way…like the time I told my oldest to not the touch the searing hot pan that just came out of the 400 F oven and he did it anyways. Then there was the time I told him to not touch the cigarette lighter thingamajig in the van and he decided to do it anyways. Then there was the time…

  6. Dana
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    LOL!!! Welcome to the club!!! I can’t remember how many times I’ve been the worst mom in the world and my kids hated me! I think I’m over getting that award now since they’re 17 & soon to be 20! You’re lucky you get to close the bathroom door! I fianlly got my kids to stay out of the bathroom and now the dog comes in and just sits there! I figure I’ve still got 3-5 years before my kids realize that I AM right and I do know a few things!

  7. gail
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Ah, but when they have children of their own and they say “I hate when I open my mouth and your voice comes out!” followed by “You must have done a good job!” you’ll remember these times and realize you really didn’t earn that award.

  8. Posted March 11, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Ahh, the bliss of parenting…
    Just makes you all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t it? I’m lucky, or maybe just a bad parent, but so far, I don’t think that my son has called be a bad mom, or said he hates me; that or: a.)I have chosen to forget, or b.)he’s an only child that didn’t have anyone to gang up on me with (beside his father), or c.)he’s just too sensitive to say things that hurt… Yea, I think that’s it… lol ;o)
    Course he’s only 12, we still have the best years ahead right??

    :o)

  9. Rocky in ND
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Just the other day I scolded my 10 year old for fighting with his brother (as I was making cookies) When the cookies were done I asked if he want any, the answer I got was “Not if you made them!” Does he think they magically appeared out of the oven??? (Of course he just watched me make them)

  10. TheOtherJennifer
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    When I said “Because I Said So!” last night as my daughter sat on the counter sideways to wash her hands…I realize that all things come full circle.

    And when she leans on me when I read, I realize that all is forgiven.

    Guilt is great, isn’t it?

  11. Posted March 11, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Aww – Geting that award means you are the very bestest daddy! I won the “Meaniest Mommy” award several times over. Check out my blog and read the “Mean Mom” poem someone gave me and fits to a T any parent raising kids!
    Here’s the link to that post:
    http://centralturk.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-02-03T05%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=5

  12. Posted March 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I never had kids because those around me assured me it was a bad idea. I guess that means I have the “Potentially the Worst Mom” award. More power to you.

  13. Posted March 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Frustrating, rewarding, funny, infuriating…it’s all part of the package! I don’t know how many times my daughter told me she hated me. I would always follow with an “I love you anyway” which she hated even more. I’m evil like that!

  14. Posted March 11, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Dave above, wear it with pride, man! As the wife of a lovely man who has often worked 70+ hour weeks, to keep us in tillamook cheese and good beer, just as we can be assholes, the kids can be little assholes. I’m just saying. They are screaming for boundaries. It’s their job. Ours is to put up that electric fence and zap them into humans that other people can bear to be around. Of course, this is also written by a mother who attended her child’s middle school band concert last night- a concert that was partially disrupted by unattended children running around the auditorium like attention-starved vandals high on amphetamines. Grrr…

  15. Posted March 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I am going to wear a shirt to the next concert that reads, “Control your child, or I will insert him back into your uterus”

  16. Posted March 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m only 2 years in on this parenting job & I’ve already found that “Worst Mommy of the Year” award floating around my house 278 times. I’m dreading the day when she can award it to me herself …

    I can SO see the cheese grater incident & I saw it ending in blood. But with 2 kids, I expect everything to end in blood and stitches. That way when it doesn’t, I’m pleasantly surprised & things feel a little better to me. I’m dark and twisty like that.

  17. Posted March 11, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    At least there is SXSW to look forward to right???? A consolation prize of sorts???

  18. Attilla the Mum
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Cut yourself some slack, DS. You’re not beating your kids, starving them or subjecting them to being seen in public with you dressed in plaid shorts with sandals over your sock feet (are you?). Sounds to me like you’re trying to raise a couple of civilized human beings, and you’re doing fine.

    Me, on the other hand? Does my name give it away? I had to physically drag 5-yr-old into the preschool building this morning. All the while growling, “Move it. Mommy is late for WORK.”

  19. Posted March 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh…it’s almost as if you were retelling a day in my house. I have been hearing for YEARS how I am the worst parent, I make my childrens lives completely suck…and anyone would be better than me…And yet…they keep coming back for more…Go figure.

    and about having to parent from the bathroom…dude…funny!! but disturbingly true…so very true.

  20. Lindsey
    Posted March 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth..when I was applying to college and was prompted to write a college admissions essay on someone ‘influential’…I chose my crazy, over protective, ‘mean’ dad and wrote about all of the evil things he did/wouldn’t let me do as a kid and how I turned out so much better for it. Not only did I get accepted, but I went to school on a full ride. Another accomplishment of mine that can be attributed to my dad’s devil horns. Maybe being ‘mean’ could save you some money one day? :)

  21. Posted March 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Don’t take it to heart. I said that to my dad when I was about Zan’s age, and I remember saying it and following it up by telling him that I would be much happier with a dad who was more like my best friend’s dad.

    I was frustrated or angry or something, but I didn’t mean it. To this day, I feel that my father is the most amazing man in my life. Sometimes I remember the day I told him he was the worst father in the world, and even though he no longer remembers it, I do, and I regret it more than I could ever say.

    I know, I’m not supposed to be serious, but oh well, I slipped up…

  22. Posted March 12, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    That point you were trying to make..
    You know – when you were sitting on the toilet.
    What was it?
    I couldn’t get passed that picture in my head.

  23. Posted March 12, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Just found your blog and will be visiting frequently! Dontcha just love REAL life?? Really enjoyed your story…

  24. Posted March 12, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! I know how hard you have worked for this achievement and blah, blah, blah..LOL! Don’t kids just know how to make you fee like crap for being a good parent? So dramatic, so heartfelt, and so vulnerable, you can’t help but bleed right from your heart when they say stuff like that.

    So far, I’m just “Auntie”, so I have been able to avoid those not-so-flattering titles by spoiling all 11 nieces and nephews, giving them lots of candy, letting them stay up late, telling each one they are my favorite in secret, and generally turning them into terrors before handing them back to their parents with a smile. Yes, life as “Auntie” is much easier. Props to you brave ones for being the uncool, mean, and very loving parents.

  25. Posted March 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    What a great post!! You made me laugh so hard that I had to call my husband at work and read him parts of your post! He loooves when I call him at work with stuff like this. Anyway, very funny!! You are right, there is no break from parenting!! : )

  26. reen
    Posted March 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Are you kidding? I have a trophy case full of the “mom” version in my house. So far I haven’t heard “I hate you” or “You’re a bad mom” BUT, much worse, “You hate me!!” Ugggggghhhh.

    You’re coming here for SXSW? What a fun break from all that slushy wintry business. And when you get home, you’ll be Best Daddy In the World once again!

  27. Cindy
    Posted March 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Ah, yes … Trying to tell your kids off while sitting on the can. Very hard to do, especially if you have to actually seperate them and they’re not in the same room with you. Try actually nursing while seated on the throne, and having to verbally get your other two to stop fighting. Nice image, eh? :) Okay, okay, YOU can’t technically nurse a baby, but you get the picture. (I hope nobody’s offended by that, but hey, if your baby is hungry and your not feeling well … you do what you gotta do).

    I SO get your cheese grater scenario! We’re in that stage with our oldest two right now!

  28. Posted March 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I once told my kid that if he didn’t do his homework he’d end up homeless. I think that deserves a bad parenting award, don’t you?

  29. Posted November 5, 2009 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Since having children, I have, on occasion, had to apologize to my OWN mother for having been hateful as a child. Like the time I refused to let her go to the bathroom on her own. And the time I wrote in my diary that she was A BITCH!

    Poor dear . . . she was just living her life, trying her best . . .
    .-= TheExpatresse´s last blog ..Grand Guignol Photos or What I Did Last Week =-.

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