FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Serf’s up!!
“Dad, you need to make my sandwich”, my twelve year old son, Aden, informed me this morning. And so began our daily dance. Every single day, we both don’t want to make the sandwich, so every single day we bob and weave trying to avoid it. His strategy is to dink around and stall for twenty minutes collecting his school stuff and falsely searching for his shoes and socks until I have to make the sandwich. My strategy is less sophisticated: I sit on the couch drinking coffee and yell at him to “hurry up”. This doesn’t work. He screws around until I am faced with the choice of making his stupid sandwich or wasting a half-hour of my valuable morning time driving him to school because he missed his bus. I always make the sandwich. I hate making his sandwiches. I have made hundreds of them. I used to enjoy it. I used to feel dutiful and loving and proud while making his lunch. I don’t feel this way anymore. In the past, I would sneak a secret treat into his lunchbox to surprise him. I would imagine him finding my gift and declaring to all his classmates seated near him in the school cafeteria that he and he alone, had the best Dad ever! I don’t care about this anymore. Now, I just want him to make his own damn sandwich.
I’m not sure when this changed, but I suspect it has been a progression. I recall no definitive moment standing as a benchmark between times. It just happened. Somewhere along the way, things changed and the doting, ever-concerned father was replaced with a somewhat indifferent and passive man bearing a rather eerie resemblance to my own Dad. It is happening. I am becoming my Dad. I swore I never would, but it was inevitable, I suppose. We become our parents, just as they become theirs. And so it has been since time began.
As I ponder this phenomenon, the only conclusion I can draw is that all kids possess a diabolical power to transform their otherwise reasonable, rational, thoughtful and intelligent parents into mindless and shameless servants. They need things that only we can provide and we have a duty to provide these things. They know we have this duty and so, they manipulate our sense of this duty to turn us into resentful, yet still compliant lackeys placed on this earth to serve only their needs. We are mobile, but beaten robots. We are the defeated.
Since the dawn of parenthood, kids have been screwing over parents exactly this way. It’s what they do. Our job is to take it. It’s what we do. I say this without ill regard or malevolent intent. It is just so. It doesn’t bother me all of the time, just most of the time. I have become a servant, a serf, whose purpose is serving my kingdom’s masters. The masters happen to be a lovely, slightly snotty, eight year old girl and the aforementioned too-smart-for-his-own-good twelve year old boy. They direct my day, hour by hour, minute by minute. They own me. I say this without complaint, only somber resignation. It is what it is and I signed up for it.
“DAD!! DAD!! DAD!!, Diego threw up in my room. Come quick!!” my girl bellowed from the hallway just as I sat down on the comfy couch for an afternoon snack. I didn’t want to clean up dog puke. But I did. I didn’t want to scrape the still warm and soft, half-digested Purina off the carpet. But I did. I did this and I will do this for some time, I suspect. I am here to serve whenever and wherever directed, including and probably especially, on the super nasty jobs. So it goes.
“Hold on, Sweetie!! Let me get a towel!” I replied to my little gal… with a much better understanding about why my Grandma and Grandpa always looked so happy watching my parents serve their masters…
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]