I Haven’t Killed My Kids Yet

Jeffrey Dotts daddy-o

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I used to think that I was a man in the wilderness. I was not falling head-over-heels in love with parenting. When we started on this adventure, I was led to believe that love would find a way and I would become the owner of the best job in the world. Three years later, I realize that it isn’t and I am not alone. I am a man in the wilderness, but I’m surrounded by women out here and they all, at one point or another, have confided in me that they feel the same way sometimes. And they can’t tell the other women. This amazing job called parenting, is just like any other job with highs and lows. And we are all immediately subject to the Peter Principle—we’ve been promoted to the level of our incompetency and are terrified of being discovered as frauds.

So in validation to all who walk in the wilderness…

Sitting with my girls at breakfast, I realized that I’m a shitty nurturer. I don’t have the patience for it. When it’s meal time, I expect that people eat—even if those people are 36 inche tall three year olds with tiny stomachs. I don’t have the patience to cook up some awesome blueberry pancakes and a delicious fruit smoothie only to watch my twin daughters ignore all that plated glory and, instead, make hippo sounds with contorted faces more closely resembling constipated ferrets than hungry hippos.

“Look, if you’re not going to eat, don’t ask me to make awesome food!” That comes out of my mouth. Those words. With venom. Directed at three year olds. It probably would be different if it didn’t happen every day, every meal. But it does. The term “bat shit crazy” is the how I refer to what’s going on inside me when an obvious reaction (eating) does not follow a deliberate action (feeding.) I mean, what in the hell is the problem?

Then I have a moment of clarity—I have no idea what I’m doing. Who am I to expect that my kids should be hungry when I’m hungry? Why should I expect them to eat at 8:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 6:00 pm? I rarely eat at those times. My life doesn’t lend itself to that schedule and neither does my body. It never has. My body is hungry at 6 am, but I’m still in bed then. My body is in a battle with itself—pseudo-sleep for an extra 47 minutes or feed on protein and animal fat so I can be ready to take a power nap at 11 am? It’s rarely a tough decision. Besides, I can’t take that power nap at 11 am because the girls are ready to get to the zoo so they can hang out with sculptures of animals rather than looking at real ones. I eat whenever; I graze all day.

I’m an asshole. Like my daughters at age three, I make everything about me. Their moods are my responsibility, their appetites (or lack of) are my fault, and the unwillingness of one of them to relinquish the diaper is the outcome of my opportunity missed. Likewise, their large vocabulary and competency replete with innuendo and banter are my contribution (forget that their mom is a genius from a genius family and my parents were able to convince me that they were the smartest people in the world.) I like to think that all of the cool things about my kids, I nurtured in them. And all the crazy shit that they do? That’s mine too. And it’s that second part that makes me take a little personal inventory. In an effort to remain sane, I check myself. Maybe they are their own creation. Just maybe, they have their own ways of being that they’re trying to teach me. Someday, when they’re all grown up, maybe I’ll know what I’m doing.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Dotts

Jeff Dotts is a full time dad and husband in Seattle. He spent 15 years working for young people from under-resourced communities. Then he got tired and decided to take the easy route and stay home with his twin, now-3 year old girls. Genius.

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