Children are jerks.
More precisely, they’re animals. Wild, uncontrollable animals with the common sense of rabid monkeys and the manners of a Kid Rock tour bus at Waffle House.
“Bye, Dad,” the Girl, now 11, said as she pounded down the stairs toward the front door (the only way to descend steps, obviously). She and the Boy were on their way to the bus. In the morning. In the winter. In the snow.
She wore flip-flops, a skirt and carried her jacket (not her coat) under her arm. Outside it was 3 degrees. People suffer frostbite when their skin is exposed to freezing temperatures, which included all 29 degrees above what it was now.
“Hey.” Even as I said ‘hey,’ I knew this attempt at communication was futile. Children only respond immediately to the following words: Minecraft, ice cream, snow day, nuclear explosion, supper, Xbox, grandma and “what makes you think that thing in your closet can’t open the door?”
No average word will catch their attention and causes a parent to resort to yelling, which in my case is a string of ampersands, at-symbols and pound signs.
“What?” she shouted, holding the door open to the weather conditions of Hoth/Narnia/the Misty Mountains.
Didn’t I say children are jerks?
“Put on a coat,” I said. “Or a parka, or a space suit, or at least shoes with toes.”
Then the bus pulled up and both kids ran screaming from the house. The Boy at least wore a hat.
This is common behavior, apparently. Parents across the country are forced to tell their children (who can spell, do math and operate advanced electronics) to wear a coat when it’s cold. I’m sure parents in Florida go through something similar.
Florida child: “Bye, Mom.”
Florida parent: “Watch out for alligators.”
Florida child (paints self with blood and heads toward the swamp): “OK.”
What worries me most isn’t that our child will be cold (because it’s her fault), it’s that she’ll make us look like terrible parents (also her fault).
“At least put on your …” I started to yell after her, but knew the effort wasn’t just too late, it was futile.
Children are many things. They are kind, frustrating, funny, cash-draining and confusing. Note, I didn’t say cooperative.
I’m not bothered by the fact that an entire generation of no-coat-wearing, Tide-Pod-eating, put-ketchup-on-everything people will some day be in control of the planet. I’m bothered by the fact that these maniacs will be driving soon. If they don’t have the sense to put on a coat, how do you think they’ll handle a four-way stop?
When I picked the older two up from school later that day, the Toddler made a conscious decision to pick up where the older girl left off.
“No coat,” she said, flopping to the floor. “No socks. No shoes. No car seat.”
So I had to prove to her I was bigger and stronger and knew more bad words.
After serious pouting in the car, we arrived at school to retrieve the Coatless One and her brother. The Toddler grabbed my face in her little hands and looked at me in the eyes.
“You not angry anymore,” she said. “Me not sad anymore.”
Ouch. Did I say it was children who are jerks?
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.