Today is my Dad’s 60th birthday.
Dad’s an artist. His preferred medium is acrylic on canvas, though he’s never so creative as when he’s splashing witty barbs at jerks and boobs. You want my Dad’s earnest critisicm? Sorry, that’s exclusively reserved for me, his daughter, the Worst Mommy in the World.
Since Eliot’s first breath, Dad has single-handedly devoted himself to lamenting my maternal failings, and a good thing he’s retired because frankly there are just NOT enough hours in the day to keep this oral catalogue updated. It’s best not to get into the particulars of my craptastic parenting — I mean, where to start? Alphabetically? Frequency of offense? — and to just summarize it thusly: if one of the girls is crying, or has a cold, or hesitates before giving him a hug, Dad can immediately link it to something I have done or failed to do. Nola sneezes? Tracy does NOT know how to dress these children. Two-year-old throwing a tantrum? Tracy didn’t properly bond with her as an infant. Eliot’s in bed by 8pm? GOOD GOD WOMAN, CRACKHEAD PARENTS HAVE INFLICTED FEWER LASTING PSYCHOLOGICAL SCARS.
On the good-parenting scale, Dad views my every maternal act as just above species that eat their young, but, you know, JUST.
And to what does he credit his encyclopedic grasp of the care and feeding of children? Of course: RAISING ME.
(Let’s get that flaming logic hole out of the way first: dude, if you raised the worst parent to walk the earth — the HITLER of Mothers — we might want to studiously reexamine your qualifications.)
Now I’m going to overlook the fact that I have twice the number of children Dad did, therefore conceivably double the parenting expertise, and cut straight to tarnishing Dad’s credibility. Because for the most part, I was a child in the ’70s, and for the most part, Dad was profoundly baked in the ’70s.
Did I have even the subtlest awareness of this as a child? Absolutely not. It’s only in hindsight that the real picture begins to emerge, and that picture includes a blacklight and Day-Glo posters and macrame planters and WAY too much Jethro Tull and Steely Dan on the reel-to-reel (Google it, kids) and A DOOR MADE OUT OF BEADS, WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE, COMPLETELY HIGH?
Or maybe it just means that Papa luuuurrves him some little girls.
“So, Big Dave, how ya feeling at 60?”
“Eh, pretty much the same: like a 21-year-old trapped in the body of an 85-year-old. . .”
Love you to bits, Dad.