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August 01, 2009

This Past Week With My Kids Was Great

The rain finally stopped here at my little patch of Connecticut. I suppose that’s good, although I am a fellow who appreciates precipitation and does not even mind the word “moist,” as so many people do. Inclement weather affects my wife, though. She gets mopey and agitated whenever she cannot see the sun for more than a couple days. Perhaps she believes, like some ignorant pagan, that the sun has gone away forever, I do not know. On those days when she is moody, I try to do what any responsible husband would do and tell her that her problems are all in her mind and she should just shut up about it. Even though this never helps her mood, at least it lets her know that she’s annoying me. That way, if it ever gets violent, I will already be on record that it’s her fault.

Fortunately for her, she missed this week’s poor weather because she spent the week in sunny Los Angeles with friends. After taking care of the kids pretty much by herself for three months while I was in production on my show, we decided that she deserved some time off. (She decided; I had no say in the decision-making.) So off she went to Malibu while I remained behind with the children. Big mistake.

The mistake was hers, because now I know, beyond any doubt, that I am the better parent. These children were never better cared for than this week. God, they are some well-cared-for children! When my wife is home with them alone, I am constantly receiving panicked phone calls from my spouse about how terrible the kids are behaving, the messes they have caused, the fires they have started, etc. When they were with me, however, they were models of decorum. Am I saying that they were perfect because I am a perfect parent? Of course not. Nobody is perfect, but I will say that, at least when it comes to parenting, I am as close as a human being can get. Perfection is like the speed of light; nothing can go faster, but this week I think I proved that we can get awfully close.

These children have never been happier than when their mother was out of the picture, a lesson I am definitely keeping front and center in my mind the next time she gives me any shit about anything. The fact that they were so happy without her is by no means an indictment of her. On the contrary, she’s a terrific person and I’m sure she has her own special gifts. But when it comes to parenting the children we made together, I am far superior. Example: our daughter enjoys hurting things. (Her brother, the dog, all living creatures.) This week, instead of reprimanding her for her casual displays of cruelty, I sat her down and made her watch “The Silence of the Lambs.” Whenever Anthony Hopkins’ character came on, I would say, “Is this how you want to end up? IS IT???” Later that night she told me she couldn't sleep. I said, "If you can't sleep, watch the movie again." Highly effective.

Another example: my son often gets upset when loses at any competition. After camp this week, I took him mini-golfing and promptly whooped his ass. When he started to cry, instead of reprimanding him for being a sore loser, I told him if he was really upset we could play again until he beat me. Needless to say, he never did. I absolutely destroyed him at round after round of mini-golf, and after five hours he said he was too tired to keep playing. I said, “No, cry baby, you want to beat your old man – now’s your shot.” He said he didn’t want to beat me anymore. He just wanted to get out of the dark. I gave him a hug and we went home.

People will undoubtedly read these examples and think I am being cruel. But love isn’t always lollipops and teddy bears. Sometimes it’s Tabasco sauce and bloated raccoon carcasses. Sometimes love is showing your kids the world the way it is and not the way we wish it could be. This is a lesson my wife has yet to fully grasp. She wants their childhoods to be “happy.” I want them to be happy too, the same way Marines are happy when they are done with boot camp. Which happiness is more satisfying? The milquetoast happiness born from goodnight kisses or the kind forged from a crucible of steel? Ask anybody who has ever survived a near-death experience. They will all tell you the same thing: they never took life for granted again. That’s how I want my kids to feel when they emerge from childhood.

Which is not to say it’s all “hard-nosed Daddy.” Not at all. We play games together and read stories at bedtime. Right now we’re reading a book about the way things work. Last night we learned about oil rigs and Soviet tanks. Did you know that the T-34 Soviet tanker commander was also the gunner? They didn’t and I didn’t either. So we both learned something.

My wife got back late last night. The first thing she noticed was how muscular the children looked. Damn right. That’s what happens when you get rid of the baby fat. Now that she’s home, there’s going to be a struggle for primacy in the house. It’s abundantly clear to me now that I am the superior parent, a point I’ve been trying to make to her ever since she first got pregnant. The question: what to do about it? I don’t want to demean her by making a blanket rule that I’m in charge of everything but I’m afraid that’s what it’s going to come down to. She’s not going to be happy about the new situation but she’s not happy about much these days, anyway. Part of me wonders if the weather is really the problem or if it’s something else. My guess? It's the weather.

   

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Mikey

I hate to sound like your mother, but Michael, you have a gift for humor! Well done, again.

Noelle

you are an excellent parent. kids have to learn early how things really are. :)

Reen

You are horrible. Just horrible. Your wife should pop on here and give a sassy response to all of those accusations!

I hope these are the types of hilarious essays we'll find in your new book about family life. (Sorry, I can't remember the name of it...)If so, wow, talk about a winners streak. Your star is really rising my friend.

Reen

P.S.

This is one of my favorite funny family entries that you've written to date. You do "wrong" so right.

Ariel

When's the parenting book coming out?

Jennifer

Can you please come over today? My daughter is being a real a-hole and I am waaaaay too nice...

Jen from Vegas

p.s. LOVE the show! I can't wait to see when you play the gymnast. Looks a little frightening, but I still can't wait!

Jaime

"...I try to do what any responsible husband would do and tell her that her problems are all in her mind and she should just shut up about it."

What?? You don't even suggest she's probably PMS'ing to boot?? You are slipping my friend.

But you are so dead on on this parenting business, you guru. Because sometimes love _IS_ all Tabasco sauce and bloated raccoon carcasses, and that is why, every night at bedtime, I make sure to throw myself to my 3 yr-old's bedroom floor screaming, at shrieky deafening decibels atop jerking violent convulsions, that "I don't wanna go to beeeed!!" while he stares blearily in fear with his hands over his ears at Bad Mommy...but this only lasts until around 4am when he finally suppresses reality effectively enough to drop off to slumberland. Mission accomplished!

Also, this way, when I stumble into his room at 6am and pull off his covers, crying that I wet the bed as I cuddle up to him in my urine-soaked nightgown, he totally "gets" how important a good night's sleep is. Job well done to me!

Natural consequences. That's just good parenting. Good luck Mikey!

Bailey

Now I just want to have a bunch of kids so I can start parenting the crap out of them, by way of the Michael Ian Black parenting method.

Michael

"Which happiness is more satisfying? The milquetoast happiness born from goodnight kisses or the kind forged from a crucible of steel? Ask anybody who has ever survived a near-death experience. They will all tell you the same thing: they never took life for granted again. That’s how I want my kids to feel when they emerge from childhood."

...and this is actually how I felt after childhood... Actually, even more so after high school... definitely more so after high school.

mariella

ha thats funny but hey they have to learn some how,well i think your the funniest Man ever;)xoxo

thecitychicken

Sigh...I *WISH* my childhood had bloated raccoon carcasses. We only had fetid possum carcasses. Spoiled kids.

Zane

I just spent the day in Malibu with dear friends hanging out and having a great time staring at the ocean, drinking wine and laughing all afternoon. Your wife made a great decision, I hope it wasn't too hard for her to get back into real life mode of mothering all three of you.

Anonymous

Why don't you just beat the crap out of your child whenever he/she's bad?


Works every time ; ^)

The Naked Redhead

Great story, though I feel like you missed a key element of good parenting: reminding your children constantly that they are in danger of going to hell for their behavior.

I think the methods you used are fantastic, but if you were looking to really instill good, life-long lessons into their little souls, fanatical religious ideals are the way to go. You think "Silence of the Lambs" was scary, try having your daughter remember forever that God said that girls who have sex before marriage are dirty, dirty whores. THAT'S parental success.

Kristen [RAGE AGAINST THE MINIVAN]

I think you may be on to something. I spent the day having family time with my kids. I took them to the beach where we rode a ferry to an island for a picnic, took a ride on a carousel & ferris wheel, and bought them ridiculously overpriced frozen treats. And on the way back to the car, my 4-year-old son tells me he's FUCKING BORED (expletive mine).

So yeah. May try your technique instead.

Lonnie

Oh, you are soooooo mean, Mike! Good luck in divorce court!

Felicia

She came back? Because I just got back from CA last night and the weather was glorious... Maybe your marital woes are making the heavens cry.

JJ - The Laundress

If loving this post is wrong. I don't wanna be right.

Golf Carts Phoenix AZ

You have a great sense of humor huh. I wanted to hear more from you. I was really left laughing my heart out.

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