Parents enjoy lying to themselves. I am convinced these lies help anchor us in some deluded form of reality so we may survive our children. Let me share an example. One of the most magnificent stories parents tell involves the false joy we might experience on a future vacation. I mean, as parents, we are practically obligated to teach our children about the ways of the world. And what better way is there to educate the little Einsteins than by taking them on a real-life adventure!
So, for weeks, we plot, scheme, and strategize an immaculate trip that the whole family will love. We find the most amazing places with the most incredible sites, which will indubitably please even the most brooding member of the household. When the day finally arrives with all our ‘i’s dotted and ‘t’s crossed, we pile into the family-mobile and take off into the wild unknown.
How long does it take before you are screaming like Ron Weasley’s mother into the backseat of your car? 1 hour? 2 hours? Did you actually make it 3 hours? I envy you.
When you first set off on the adventure, you play it cool. You are a calm, rational human being, still holding the image of lucid waters and trees ruffled by a delicate breeze. You hear the mirth and merriment of a family bonding over the simplicities of life. You speak to your children, sharing with them your make-believe visions of the future, crossing your fingers that they can dream the same dream that you dream.
AND THEN IT CRUMBLES.
After a few moments, the basic bedlam in the back accelerates to absolute anarchy. One child is touching another. And this child doesn’t like how the other is looking at them. For the love of hedgehogs, seatbelts are off. And we have entered bout one of the title fight; yes, they are actually swinging at each other. Children are crying and bruises are forming. What do you mean someone purposefully spit on the cherished stuffed animal? And who broke the electronic device in the first fifteen minutes? We barely have left the house! You ripped paper to shreds! Really?! Where did you even find paper to tear into miniscule pieces and why did you shove them in the cup holder and then try to make them float in your spilt drink?
We are pulling this car over! We might even turn it around…actually, we know that is another lie. Because we have invested way too much time and energy into planning this venture into hell, and we will—by any means necessary—go forth and spend money we don’t have and these little monsters will LOVE us for it!
But they don’t care. They don’t have the brain development to understand our sacrifice, give adequate thanks, or process our adult emotional state. As parents, we have lost all sense of ourselves before we have made it to the first destination. Cars are whipping by us on the highway, the scenery has completely changed (which the kids haven’t noticed and we have barely enjoyed), everyone is screaming of hunger or the need for a toilet…Our senses are completely haywire. We might as well be at war with the Hulk leading the warpath. All the while, we are trying to balance the meaning of unconditional love with the measure of our wits, and failing miserably. We are delirious. We are doubtful. We are depressed. The only thing we can be sure of is that we have nosedived this whole parenting thing, and next vacation will consist of drawn curtains and Harry Potter marathons.
Another lie. Because—hey—next year, the child seems more mature. Right?
The real question is what does a parent do with these vacations and the lies that surround them? The answer is EMBRACE THEM. I guarantee you that the struggle is worth every moment. When your child grows up, they will be thankful for the opportunity you gave them, they will remember the wondrous vacation, and if lucky, they will suffer with your grandchildren in a very similar way.
Joshua Robertson is the Goblin King, a proud millennial father of nine children. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology.His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys and ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.