You know, I always used to laugh at the phrase, "I do, and I do, and I do for you kids, and this is the thanks I get!" but now, I fuckin' get it. That's parenting, boiled down to one, right-the-fuck-on sentence. You do, and you do, and you do some more and you basically don't get dick in return. Sure, there's an occasional hug or even a rare "Thanks, Dad!" but, if you're looking for an immediate return on your investment, parenting ain't the game for you.
And I'm fine with that. I'm in it for the long haul -- I don't plan on seeing any real payback until way down the road, when I'm dried out and wrinkley and crappin' out petrified smellets in my nappies.
Like, take this weekend, for example. Both days were geared completely for the enjoyment of the spawn. I took Miss O to her swimming lesson, took Mr. Z to the library, went to see a concert on Saturday night, took both kids to family swim at the Y, grilled out for dinner tonight and then went to a new ice cream jernt for dessert -- all to tickle their cute but ungrateful fancies. I think they enjoyed all of it -- I have no idea.
But here's the thing -- Saturday afternoon, I said to the old lady, "You know, they have those free concerts downtown. Let's go tonight -- the kids will love it." Sure, they usually go to bed at 8 and the concerts don't even start until 7:30, but what the fuck, it's summertime and we need to live a little. So we drive down there, park, and start walking to the concert. I think the band was called "Sea Cruisin'" or some shit, and they were playing "50s and 60s classics"! It's exactly what you'd imagine -- four old fuckers, "rockin' out" to "Little Sister," "Brown-Eyed Girl" and "Twist & Shout." The thing is, they were probably not much older than me and, to tell you the truth, they weren't bad -- I mean it was painfully cringe-inducing but they had their shit down.
Where was I... oh, we were walking to the concert and Miss O tripped. This kid falls down once every goddamn hour, lately -- I don't know if she's just in a clumsy phase, needs new shoes or suffers from extremely brief bouts of narcolepsy, but she's a fucking klutz. Of course, she skinned her knee, and pretty badly, too. So, she's bawling and the old lady runs into a CVS to get a box of band-aids. Okay, problem kinda solved. Then we find a spot to sit, amongst the "ramps & canes" crowd that's boogie-ing down to "The Wanderer." We spend eight bucks on two ice-cream sandwiches for the kids, which they kinda eat and mostly just smear all over their heads. Then, during a particulary slow, quiet tune, Mr. Z knocks over this really long, REALLY LOUD, two-by-four barrier thing and it crashes to the ground and everyone looks over at the freak family with the ice-cream covered spazmo children. So I fix the barrier and then we just sit there, staring at all the normal families, with the peaceful children who dance and sing and "have fun" until we decide it's time to leave.
Did they enjoy the concert? No fucking clue. By the time we get them to bed, it's about 9:30 and we say goodnight and add our worthless weekend caveat, "Okay, we let you guys stay up really late tonight, so be sure to sleep in so you're not all crabby tomorrow."
They both get up at 7:30 this morning and they were a fucking wreck. It was like tag-team bawling all morning, the climax happening when Mr. Z comes running into the kitchen screaming, "MISS O PINCHED MY EYE!!!!" I didn't even know you could do that!
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the payoff. There isn't any. You've gotta just do shit that you think they'll enjoy and maybe they will and maybe they won't. They certainly won't tell you either way. But it feels good to make the effort. I think.
Then, maybe someday they'll go to another kid's house and realize how fucking sweet they've got it going on here, and just maybe they'll think to themselves, "Wow, Dad was right -- we do have it pretty good. I should've really shown him how much I appreciated all his efforts more often... too bad he's dead now."