Welcome back everyone. Mad props to my 13 followers! Off to this week's topic.
Back in the 1990s, Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in a comedy called True Lies.
Excuse me for a moment.
Can I call you back? I'm writing a column. Oh? An action movie? Really? OK, good to know.
Sorry about that. Anyway, in this "action" movie, there was an amorphous Middle Eastern terrorist group called the Crimson Jihad, and at one point in the narrative, its leader, its Osama bin Laden, if you will, threatened, in his most awesome terrorist voice, that he would would destroy one American city every hour until his demands were met.
What does this have to do with anything? I'm getting there. As a side note, I love the Middle Eastern terrorist accent because I hail from a large family of Middle Easterners (although they're better described as Middle Eastern hummus-makers), and when they get all hot and bothered about something while speaking English, they sound like members of the Crimson Jihad. "No, I said TWO tablespoons of olive oil!"
Anyway, shortly after my son was born in 2005, my wife and I decided that we had to win the sleep battle. I attribute this decision to the fact that during that terrible first night home from the hospital, which was the first time I'd ever been responsible for a child, I prayed for a meteor to hit our house and put me out of my misery. That was when I realized that the entire galaxy of parenting orbits around the sun of a good night's sleep. Not the baby's sleep, because baby's gonna get his sleep whether you like it or not. I'm talking about the parents' sleep. Because if the parents are stumbling around blind and incapable of rational thought for the first two years of the kid's life, things just aren't going to end well.
And that's why, once we were able to identify his various cries (hunger, dirty diaper, etc.), and isolate the one that simply meant, "I'm gonna cry because I want you to come pay more attention to me because I am the freaking center of the universe," we adopted our parenting manifesto:
Mommy and Daddy Don't Negotiate With Terrorists.
Holy crap, what a terrible thing to say about children!
But before you judge me for thinking such a thing, let's look at what children and terrorists have in common.
1. Terrorists seek to disrupt your way of life.
Before my kids were born, I went running in the evenings, we leisurely cooked dinners, we ate outside on the deck, we watched Seinfeld reruns, and we took trips. Currently, there is a Netflix movie on our kitchen counter that arrived about 2 months ago. I don’t even remember what movie it is. In the last two weeks, my son has asked me 2.3 million questions, including my personal favorite -- "Why does he want his friends to stay thirsty?" -- which he asked after he saw the Dos Equis commercial with the Most Interesting Man in the World. I think he asked me this immediately after I'd cut my finger working in the yard and I was bleeding all over the place.
2. Terrorists cling to irrational belief systems.
Two years ago, my son saw Toy Story for the first time, and he concluded that Buzz Lightyear hung the moon. I mean, the kid was obsessed. In October, I took him to see the double-feature re-release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, including the preview for Toy Story 3, and he was so happy his head almost exploded. About a month ago, when I asked him if he was ready to see Toy Story 3 (in theaters this Friday), he said "No." He doesn't want to see the movie, he wants nothing to do with any of the characters in the Toy Storyverse, and, quite frankly, if I informed him that Emperor Zurg had detonated a dirty bomb in Andy's room, he'd probably say something like, "those jokers at Star Command should get their act together." I have no idea why this is.
3. Terrorists don't care what they destroy to get their way.
Your sleep. Your hobbies. Your relationship with your spouse. A single coherent thought in your head. Your ability to use the bathroom uninterrupted. Dinnertime. Your dignity. Mushroom clouds over all these things.
4. Terrorists use propaganda to win the hearts and minds of the public.
When she gets tired, my daughter grabs the closest item that resembles a blanket with her right hand and sucks her left thumb. I've seen her grab bath mats, oversized couch pillows, jackets, and even my necktie as blanket substitutes. It is undoubtedly the cutest thing I have ever seen. I'm becoming increasingly concerned about her rapidly expanding vocabulary because I'm prepared to clear out the nearest Build-a-Bear Workshop for her if she asks.
5. Terrorists are willing to acquire and use biological weapons.
In the last five years, I've been puked on, peed on, bled on, and pooped on. I once had four colds in six weeks. Two weeks ago, one of my kids sneezed into my mouth during an ill-timed yawn. My friends, I've been the victim of biological terrorism.
My point is this. You're not just a parent. You're a soldier in a war. And you have to win the war, lest your kid end up in juvenile court, where I spent some time representing Social Services in a previous job. Trust me, you do not want to see your kid strolling up the hallways of the J&DR court. This is why you must fight dirty. You must use star stickers on charts to reward good behavior! You must count "1, 2, 3" to get them to get their PJs on and then take away Darth Vader Bear if they don't comply! You must let them think they've won battles that you weren't going to fight anyway! You must let them think it was their idea to start doing chores! You must remind them that they live in occupied territory, where government troops can come in and conduct warrantless searches in the interests of state security!
Remember: Mommy and Daddy don't negotiate with terrorists.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this week's column. Because if you're not with us, then you're with them.
Next Week's Column: You Need a Hobby