T Nation

Food for Thought: Parenting and A**holes

May be more appropriate for “Get a Life”, but what the hell. This is my home…

"Good news for people: Anyone can have a baby. Bad news for babies: Anyone can have a baby.

Most A-holes become parents, but not every parent becomes a Person. A person is someone who has their shit together, contributes to society. A person knows the difference between a want and a need, a craving and a necessity. A person can do what an asshole can’t; Listen. Share. Wait. Work hard doing yucky things in order to advance the wellfare of others. A person doesn’t expect to be congratulated for any of this, like an asshole does. That’s what makes them a person.

How can you tell if someone’s being an asshole or a person? Next time you see a child throw a tantrum, study the parent’s face. If they’re an asshole, you’ll notice envy, nostalgia. If they’re a person, you’ll detect equanimity, compassion, or even humor.

[Of course some grown ups are allowed -even paid- to be assholes. It’s called Showbiz. But even in Showbiz, once adults become parents, they are expected to begin adding some ‘person’ to their ‘asshole’.]

Now, in a fair system, it would be a clean transition. Meaning, once you become a person, you shouldn’t have to worry about the asshole coming back to haunt you. When you become a person, the asshole should vanish. Personal development should be a tidy succession of stages which do not mingle or blend in any way. But they’re not. At all.

In my experience, when you outgrow the Asshole, you DON’T. You merely displace it. It doesn’t disappear. It loiters, and plots it’s big come-back. From my asshole’s perspective, I’m living in its house. Sleeping in its bed, next to its lover, and eating its food. The asshole wants it all back. It lurks, lingers -it stalks the Person, waiting for that inevitable moment the guard will drop. Then it will reclaim its life.

In a fair system, we’d be one or the other. A person, or an asshole. But it’s a tug of war. And the stakes are actually high. Kids. Spouses. Families hang in the balance.

There’s an old saying: don’t shit where you sleep. For example, if you find yourself on a tiny planet, hurling through the infinite void of space, and you are inextricably linked in this experience with 7 billion other people -then don’t treat those people like shit. If you sleep on Earth, don’t shit on people. Earth is really just a big slumber party. So be a person. Simple, right?


The asshole is clever. Sophisticated. Patient. It has nothing to do but monitor my Person’s fragile grasp of maturity, my tenuous grip on composure. Every asshole knows a person gets distracted, exhausted, and eventually lays down. Just for a nap. In the blink of an eye, the person is unconscious and the asshole is driving the kids to school.

It’s coaching soccer. It’s running the fucking Girl Scouts Association of America. Wait, it’s a Senator? What can you do, how can you intervene when you see some asshole taking control, lording its power over the innocents?

Well, there is an effective measure, but I’ll warn you now: It’s counter-intuitive. If you see an asshole doing something bad, just do what they do, and watch what that does.

I learned this when I was being an asshole to my daughter at a dinner party. She was asking me a lot of questions, like any healthy, curious kid should. But I had my face buried in my phone. I snapped at her, “…honey, please! Not now.” Without missing a beat, the guy across the table chimed in, snipping at my daughter,

“yeah, leave your daddy alone, he’s texting!”

I stopped. Put down my phone, and said, “Excuse me? Did you just reprimand my daughter?” The guy smiled. Oh. I get it. Reverse psychology. But it worked. He embarrassed the asshole out of me.

So now, I use that trick. For instance;

You’re in a grocery store, and some asshole mother yells at her kid for touching a box of Fruit Loops. She’s like “put that down, you greedy little shit!” Now, don’t act on your first impulse. Like, my first impulse would be to ab-dopt that kid.

(Ab-dopt is when you abduct and adopt a cool kid, rescuing them from their asshole parents. Ab-dopt, I’ll use it in a sentence; ‘Angelina Jolie wants to ab-dopt Octo-mom’s kids.’ But I digress.)

You want to abduct that kid. But first, try this: When she scowls “put that down, you greedy little shit!”, you walk over to her kid and add: “or I will slap it out of your Goddamn hands…”. Yeah. That mom says, “excuse me? WHAT did you just say to my child!?”

Then you reply…

“Exactly. What did I just say? I said something cruel and inappropriate. You noticed it. See? You possess the capacity to detect and reject the mistreatment of others. That’s why you defended your child. Next time, defend your child from your self, or I’ll be back to ab-dopt your little cutie!” Then you take a picture of her and run away.

Kids have enough problems these days without us asshole parents making it worse. Like, did you know kids have insomnia now? Insomnolant toddlers. I guess that’s why the television networks run kids programming all night long, every night. All over America there are five year olds with blood shot eyes, watching a Wonder Pets at 3:13 in the morning mumbling,

“Fuck. I gotta get to sleep. I got a play date at nine.”

It’s no mystery what’s giving kids insomnia: Asshole parents.

Have you noticed these dads who bring their five and six year old daughters into the men’s locker room at the gym? What the fuck? I guess they look around, see a dozen naked grown men with their dongs flopping, and they think to themselves ‘OK, come on in, Princess. Follow daddy into the putrid cave of hairy strangers.’

These guys -these assholes- usher their daughters into a skin circus of bloated anthropoids with unsheathed lingams. How is this even legal? Here’s a rule of thumb: If your daughter is old enough to know there is such a thing as a ‘stranger’, and old enough to know there is such a thing as a ‘penis’, your job as a parent is to make sure those two concepts -stranger and penis- never meet in her experience. NEVER.

That’s why your Kindergartner is up watching Word Girl at 2am- she’s trying to block out the dicks you burned into her brain. Is that really a nest of memories you want to put in her family tree?

Now, before you become impressed with that mature, protective sentiment, the asshole will contravene what the Person just said. The asshole wants to say something stupid and wrong. And I’m a big enough Person to let him.

Hi. It’s the asshole here. What that Person just said about taking daughters into the mens locker room is all true. However, if you happen to have a boy…

Moms, I can say from experience, it would be pretty cool if you would take your boy into the lady’s locker room. Let him wander amid the wonders. Leave him in the corner of the Sauna. Let him rub a chub in the hot tub. I can promise you he wants to hide in a locker, marveling at the parade of pulchritude. Is it a violation of privacy? Yes. It is a veneration of puberty? YES.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. Only an asshole would adhere to such a sexist double standard. Fine. But I’m an asshole, not a liar. Men are gross and women are graceful. It’s an archaic gender-alization, but it’s true. And if this planet has a hope in Hades, it’s in the women’s locker room, not the men’s."

Stewart Davis