As I lay down in the hospital bed, carefully holding my oldest (Jill) for the first time, I was bemused and still a little addled from the morphine that they knocked me out with.
My first thought, as I looked down at this tiny little bundle that had just been literally plucked out of me, wasn’t “Wow, I’m a parent now.”
It wasn’t “Oh my god, she’s gorgeous”.
It wasn’t even “I love you”.
Really, it was more like “I’m going to apologize in advance for screwing you up royally. Your therapy is going to cost a fortune, but this is going to be so much fun!”
See, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfect child, and that’s in large part because I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfect parent. We all mess up from time to time. The thing that determines just how much your child is scarred for life is both how badly you mess up and how evil you are.
Now, I’m not talking about abuse. I’m not talking about being a drug or alcohol addict with no intention getting off the substance. I’m not talking about anything that is blatantly harmful to you or your child. In my opinion, that’s not screwing up your child, it’s outright failing them.
I’m talking about the kind of thing that makes your child embarrassed to be seen with you out in public. You know: the not-so-subtle evil that only parents are truly capable of achieving.
As you may have figured out by now, I’m not a perfect person or a perfect parent. Not only that, but I pride myself in being evil.
I’ll give you an example.
One fine summer day, before there was any serious talk about having children, my man and I were out hiking an old forest here on Vancouver Island. We were bantering happily back and forth, our little bear bells jingling merrily as they dangled off our backpacks.
Being outdoorsy on this island means that having a bear bell or two… or twenty… is just plain smart. Bears are common, and therefore an encounter with one while you are hiking or camping is a very real possibility.
Anyway, back to my story.
As I walked along the trail, a little smile crept across my lips.
“You know, if we ever had a kid, they would come in pretty handy when we go out hiking,” I said to my partner.
My man, being both awesome and equally evil, naturally encouraged the obvious set-up. “Oh?” he asked. “Why is that?”
“Well, we could get them one of those little walking harnesses,” I began. “You know: the ones that look like a stuffed animal backpack, and have a leash attached? We could sew a bunch of bear bells all over it, and put it on the little tyke whenever we go out hiking. Then, all we’d have to do is give the leash a little jerk every few minutes to make the bells jingle.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” my man added. “In fact, while we are talking about scarring our future child for life, why don’t we name it Horatio Zaphod?”
The thing with the leash and the bells hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t given up on the idea- I just think it would be a lot funnier if we do it when our kids are teenagers. Especially if we’ve invited some of their friends to come along on the hike.
I all-out vetoed the name idea. I mean, I know I’m an evil parent, but that’s just plain cruel.