Dear Parents, Sometimes You Are NOT Crazy

Dear Parents,

I’m going to hit you with some new news here, and it may be shocking, so brace yourselves.

Ready?

Here we go.

Sometimes you are NOT crazy.

Now, I know. I know. Believe me, I know. We parents are crazy most of the time. We are out of our ever-loving minds, in fact. And I’ve written about being crazy here and here and here and here and here, into infinity. We are NUTS, and I’m not denying it. I’m really not.

It’s just that…

Sometimes you are NOT crazy.

Even when your kids look at you like you’ve lost it again. Even when they really sell it with shocked faces and looks of bewilderment and crocodile tears spilling down their sweet rosy cheeks. Even when they look utterly confused by your behavior and choices and the things you are telling them, I just want you to consider… 

Sometimes you are NOT crazy.

Sure, MOST LIKELY you’re totally off your rocker, but — and I need you to really hear me here — MOSTLY LIKELY does not mean Always, friends. It just doesn’t.

For example, hypothetically speaking, let’s say your kid gets jock itch or a yeast infection.

These things happen to the best of us. 

Yes; let’s say your kid gets jock itch or a yeast infection and you hand that kid some appropriate topical medicine with this instruction, “Take this into the bathroom. Apply a small amount to the itchy bits.”

And the kid says, “To my privates?”

And you say, “Yes. To your privates.”

And the kid says, “By myself?”

And you say, “YES, by yourself.”

And the kid says, “Can’t you do it?”

And you say, “No. No. NO.”

You know, because not touching your teenage kid’s private parts seems like a Good Idea. Distinctly NOT crazy, right? Can I get an AMEN here?

But let’s say said kid becomes sad at going to the bathroom by him/herself.

Let’s say said kid asks you again and again to apply it, instead.

Let’s say YOU’RE NOT CRAZY so you say no repeatedly. Also HELL, NO a lot of times in your brain but not out loud because you don’t want your kid to feel bad and you once made the mistake of telling your kid he or she could ask you anything — anything at all — and it feels like the wrong time to explain that you didn’t actually mean it. You didn’t fully consider all the questions he or she may ask when you made that ill-advised promise.

So let’s say your kid asks you to apply the medicine to his or her privates and you say NO, and then the kid becomes inconsolable. Desolate. As though he or she truly Cannot Believe you would abandon him or her in an hour of desperate need. As though you have done the equivalent of asking that child to walk across burning coals. As though you have done the equivalent of asking that child to walk across burning coals and slide down razor blades into a lake of boiling oil.

Such is this child’s misery.

Well, let me just say, hypothetically again, YOU MAY BEGIN TO QUESTION YOURSELF at this point. You may wonder if you’re getting this one wrong. If your child is very, very, very gifted at this kind of thing, like my friend Meghan’s daughter (about whom Meghan writes, “I’ve never known anyone who could turn things around on me so fast. She could punch me in the face, and I’d end up feeling guilty for making her “feel like a bad person” when I said “ow”), YOU MAY START TO BELIEVE YOUR CHILD HAS A POINT, and you may actually consider acquiescing to his or her demands.

Well, here’s a word of advice: STOP IT. 

Consider — against overwhelming cumulative past evidence, perhaps — consider the idea that SOMETIMES YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, and sometimes the child does NOT have a point, and ALWAYS it’s OK not to apply jock itch/yeast infection medicine to your adolescent child yourself

OK?

OK.

I’m glad we had this little chat.

In conclusion, sometimes you are NOT crazy, and also I had a very weird day.

Sincerely yours,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
12 comments
  1. I just want you to know that I like you and your posts make me laugh out loud and we are preparing to be foster parents so I’m sure I will have moments where I’m thinking to myself AM I crazy?? and I will think, Beth said I wasn’t sometimes so it’s all okay.

  2. Yes. So far I am so glad they feel comfortable asking me about stuff, but it does get a little weird sometimes. I increasingly say “Dad can help you with that, Son.”

  3. Oh dear lord… ROFLOL!! Well, at least s/he trusts you enough to ask? And no, you’re NOT crazy. LOLOLOL Hope they feel better soon!

  4. It was the saddest day of my life when I figured out that my sweet, pure-hearted son was a master manipulator and was playing me like a toy piano. He was five. Both of my children have the ability to make me question myself when I say cruel, outlandish things like “You have to go to school” and “We can’t have donuts for dinner” and “I won’t do your math homework for you”.
    Beth, I love your blog. You are a writer like me – funny and casual but grammatically correct – and I appreciate your humor and talent and your willingness to be the Not Perfect You for all of our consumption.
    And I totally didn’t know about Uruguay. I’ll have to look in to that.

    1. Uruguay is kind of like totally awesome. (Which is why we are expatriating, obviously!) I highly recommend it as an alternative to Scandinavia (Iceland wouldn’t let us in, so we settled for someplace with a similar values system – and warmer!)

  5. My teenage kids have started calling me patient 33271. Like seriously when I call or text them, that is what comes up. My husband works swing shift so it was just me home with 5 kids…..sometimes I actually believe them when they say I am going crazy. Thank you for pulling back from the edge.

    1. I kind of feel like your kids are missing out on a great opportunity to call you 24601, here.

  6. So funny! We had a similar incident with our 15 year old and a suppository for vomitting. “Mom. Dad. This can’t be right,” is what he cries when we explained where and how. We felt really bad for him but, uh, “you gotta do it son!” We stood outside the door and shouted support…and just about choked trying not to giggle where he could hear!

  7. Ye gads. YES.

    My 15 yr old apparently thinks moving our family to Uruguay is a FANTASTIC idea and she can’t WAIT whenever she speaks to anyone besides me, but when it’s just me and her it’s all:

    “YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE” and “WHY MOM WHY” and “CAN I HAVE $350 TO BUY MY VERY OWN LAPTOP since, you know, you are RUINING MY LIFE” and so on. Until I feel like a monster.

    Stinky little manipulator, her.

    And I am NOT crazy to move to a country where her rights to her body are respected and she can go to college without crippling debt (actually, with ZERO debt) to be a veterinarian (!!!) and have a guarantee of a job when she graduates with a double degree, and live on the beach (!!!!!), and if she wants to play the oboe for the GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC, because they believe arts are IMPORTANT down there, and I can get the medical treatment I need to be a present and actual MOM and not a thing lying in bed whimpering at every vibration in the house….

    Right? I’m NOT crazy, this plan is NOT crazy, this is a perfectly NORMAL thing to do….

    I am NOT crazy.

    (And please, make her stop laying the guilt trip! For the love of Mike!!)

  8. This is hilarious, but also JUST what I needed to hear. My teenage son (who is leaving for college in a month…..) and I have been ROYALLY getting into it lately. Probably because I only have a month to give him character. So he looks at me the other day, in the middle of one of our spats, and says “You’re crazy…..”
    Um…… no I’m not. Thank you.

  9. OMG! Such a hoot to read! Having similar type of convos at my house with my own 5! Glad to hear my little master manipulators are not the only ones. And I have always steadfastly told myself I am not crazy, but then the talking to myself kind of negates that! 🙂

  10. Thankyou for the laughs. That sounds like a pretty crazy day. And yes you are not crazy this one time. Maybe others to but I’m not sure I suppose we may need to have to look at them at a case to case basis.

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