The Institute for the Exorcism of Parental Pride
Most of my friends don’t have kids. In fact, most of them aren’t married. I’m the Marge Simpson in a Sex and the City crowd. Besides the messed up hair, there’s only one real problem with this setup: I have to find other things besides Lucy to talk about.
No matter how wonderful they are, you can't expect people who don’t have children to be interested in what your child can say or how cute she looks when she tries to gallop. You can't even hope for sincere interest in the contents of her diaper, no matter how big a part of your day it is.
At my friend’s wedding last weekend, I was surrounded by a sea of childless urbanites, none of whom had puffy eyes or peanut butter on their pantyhose. To avoid boring these clean and elegant people with chatter about Lucy, I found myself making conversation about business development, Playboy and something called limoncello. I never did figure out whether this was a fruit, a musical instrument or some unholy combination of the two.
All I really wanted to talk about was how cute Lucy had been on the plane ride to the wedding. Two little girls were sitting in the seat behind us, and Lucy wanted to get to know them. I told her that to make friends, she would have to tell the girls her name. Amazingly, she did. She stood up, peeked between the seats, patted her chest and said, “Sucy.”
While it’s true that she can’t pronounce her name correctly yet, I think Lucy deserves lots of points for trying to make friends. And I deserve lots of points for not knocking those little girls’ heads together like coconuts when they ignored Lucy’s introduction.
What people like me need, I’ve concluded, is someplace to unload all this parental pride. Someplace clean, shiny and impressively official, with an important name, a Web site, sterile instruments and jars filled with the brains of dead Nobel laureates, professional golfers and people who know how to fold fitted sheets.
It should have a hotline for reporting after-hours achievements. “Press 1 if your child speaks French. Press 2 if you are French. Press 3 to request an application to college in France.”
And during the business day, it should be staffed with earnest scientists holding with clipboards, ready to be knocked flat by the genius, beauty and prodigy packed into a the slightly damp Huggie standing before them.
“It’s remarkable,” the scientists should say, whatever the child happens to be doing. “This sort of thing just doesn’t happen very often. Your child is one in 10 billion.”
This, after all, is what parents want to hear: something that confirms our pride and wonder in what we have wrought. In a matter of months, these children go from being tiny creatures that need constant monitoring to stay alive, to being heavy creatures that need constant monitoring to keep from killing themselves. Some things they do early; some things, late. But all of it creates irrational thrills that make the world feel like it’s spinning faster than we ever thought possible.
Please, someone build an institution for parents. Keep us from boring our friends and revealing how uncool we’ve become. But most important, give us validation that the small beings that dominate our minds are as wonderful as they seem.
Or at least give me a place where I can feel safe telling my latest Lucy story, the one where she caught a glimpse of a young Tom Cruise on television. Before I had a chance to change the channel, she dropped the toy she was playing with, pounded her chest and said, “Name Sucy.”
She’s 19 months old and she already knows Tom Cruise is hot. Is this kid a genius or what?