What a shame that Bill Cosby turned out to be a serial sexual predator (allegedly), because I really miss his parenting advice.
Honestly, I used to make a fair amount of my choices based on the answer to the question, “What would Cosby do?” Unfortunately, the answer ended up being, “ roofie your protégé and remove her clothes,” which is completely useless advice when it comes to raising children.
Nowadays, I can’t even justify feeding my kids cake for breakfast without feeling creeped out. (Remember that bit from “Bill Cosby: Himself? “ “Eggs are in chocolate cake! And milk! Oh goody! And wheat! That’s nutrition!” Classic. Of course now we all know what he was really putting in that cake, by the way.)
I still take a sense of parenthood away from the perception of what Cosby stood for: raising good, hardworking, high achieving, moral children through a sense of security, responsibility, and, very importantly, humor.
Because you must have humor when raising children. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps them above ground. There have been many days, when there was poop on the floor, or vomit in my hand, when the dogs peed on the rug or someone drew swooping circles across the newly painted hallway in crayon, that I have just had to put the paper towels down and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
And of course, sometimes the children themselves are incredibly funny. There has been nothing more delightful in my lifetime than watching my children grow up to have their own senses of humor. The laughs we are able to share are memories that I will cherish forever.
And the laughs are, as they should be, unpredictable.
Last night, for instance:
There was nothing remarkable about last night. I got home early-ish, Tom did too. He fried up some Italian sausage to be served with spaghetti. The girls had been home all day, lounging luxuriously amid their Thanksgiving break. We were all in pretty nondescript moods.
Now, this may come as a shock to you, but I absolutely love sex education. As a mother of two daughters, it is probably one of my favorite subjects to teach them (topped only by “did you know that ‘washing the dishes’ actually also includes wiping the counters and sweeping the kitchen floor?” and “did you know you have to feed the cats every day?”). As you can imagine, the girls don’t greet my educational facts with much enthusiasm, so, it behooves me to present all the necessary information with a nice dose of what I consider to be humor.
Anyway, so we’re eating, and for whatever reason, I’m regaling my younger daughter with stories about what will happen when she reaches puberty. This is one of my favorite things to do to the child, because she is so grossed out by the idea of it all that she can’t even bring herself to say the word. She calls it “purbetty,” as a way to keep the yuckiness at bay. Anyway, so I’m telling her about all the places hair is going to sprout from her body, and she’s literally rolling on the floor in disgust. Meanwhile, the older one, now a teenager and embodying full-fledged adolescence, is joining in the fun as the horrified nine year old is screaming in psychic pain over what is going to happen to her poor, lovely childhood body.
So, we’re cackling away at body hair jokes, when I turn the subject to chores, cheerfully wondering aloud who is going to do the dishes and why they hadn’t been done during the day.
“Well,” said the youngest in her best Valley Girl voice, “It’s hard to have time. First, I have to watch TV all day, and then I have to look in the mirror for a while, and then I have to get all my Legos out and play with them all.”
“Careful,” I remind her, sipping my club soda and lemonade. “You’re talking to a couple of people who’ve worked all day.”
“Actually,” she said, still in Valley Girl mode, “I am so busy. First, I have to make the bed, and then I have to do the laundry. Then I have to fold it and put it all away. And then I have to rotate the light bulbs…”
Holy sh–. Club soda and lemonade came out my nose. Doubled over in pain, I reached up to give her a high five.
“Good one,” I said.
“Ooh, club soda,” she replied. “That’s gotta hurt.”
“Totally worth it,” I said, cradling my face. “Now go do the dishes, and don’t forget to sweep the floor.”
And this morning, when I wrote out the chore list, you can bet that “rotate the light bulbs” was on it, and it always will be.