A good friend and I swap parenting stories all the time. Her children are a bit older than mine: 12 and 7, where mine are 6 and 5, but still they get along well together. Today, after a heated discussion of the merits of spanking (Result? We’re both in favor), we came to a conclusion that is as frightening to me as it is enlightening:
As parents, we are living in a POW camp. And WE are the POWs.
Don’t believe me? Allow me to describe the situation. First, if you have any doubts that parenting is war, you are clearly not a parent, and you should borrow someone’s child for a day or two before you finish reading this. You might want to ask them first, parents are touchy about that. Parenting IS war: Your adversaries are hostile, they are well-armed (we’ll get to that), and their goals are in clear opposition to your own—and you are struggling to occupy the same space. That, my friends, is the very definition of war!
Furthermore, you, parent, are a POW. You are a prisoner—you can’t leave. It goes on for years, at least eighteen. Your former associates (your child-free friends) turn a blind eye to your plight. The food is rudimentary at best: chicken nuggets, anyone? Every day you go to bed exhausted after hours of repetitive tasks, the worth of which you are forced to question. You have only your wits to keep your captors from total victory over your body, mind, and spirit. You’re a POW!
Life this far behind enemy lines requires strategy. The little ones are everywhere, even if you only have two of them, so you have to outthink them. Mine already have the advantage; they have a bottomless supply of energy, whereas I actually require sleep. I set my alarm progressively earlier as the school year rolls on, but no matter how early I get up, my kids have beaten me to it! Further, they’re ninjas…I have been awakened from a deep sleep by a mouse in my bedroom floor, but every morning without fail, my son and daughter manage to sneak all the way across my bedroom, steal my laptop from the floor beside my bed, and escape with it, all without waking me. (What they are doing with it, I’m not sure…so far I have only caught them playing kiddie games on the Internet—but who taught them where to find these games? This is a great mystery to me. And if the kids are that resourceful, why don’t they do something useful, like my taxes?) I think I might be in over my head on this particular point.
As I said before, they are well-armed as well. My captors have established a perimeter in this camp; it’s called the living room. It is mined with small items called “toys”, and they come in a variety of shapes, all loosely described as “sharp”. The purpose of this perimeter is to keep me from gaining access to the food supply (read: kitchen), which, incidentally, was stocked by MY hard labor. And I can’t escape; they’ve established a second perimeter outside, consisting of larger “toys”. Further, they carry still more weapons toys with them at all times, for use in hand-to-hand combat.
They are also well-armed with regard to their combat skills: this is the most baffling thing of all to me. Let me explain. I am not certain how it could be, but there is definitely some magic going on here! I said earlier that my friend and I both are in favor of spanking children; this is NOT a topic I want to open here, because it is intensely charged for, well, everyone. Just accept that I favor it, and accept that I also know how to be responsible about it—I am not now, nor have I ever been, abusive, nor has the friend I mentioned. A topic for another time, maybe. At any rate, the magic: How is it that you can take a slender, fifty-pound child, try to line them up for a spanking—and suddenly they grow five more limbs? What sorcery is this? Suddenly, this child has the tentacles of a squid, and the flexibility. Then, in a second act of sorcery, the child becomes a combination of Houdini and any MMA champion. I’ve never in my life seen a human being move that way! Obviously, I initiate far more spankings than I actually complete.
I’m not attempting to give advice tonight. Since I’m the POW, I don’t feel qualified to give any advice tonight. Go read a parent blog, or maybe just watch “The Great Escape”. But I will leave you with one final, terrible concern that I have: I think…I may have Stockholm Syndrome. Because I love my captors. And I want what’s in their best interest. Oh no…it’s too late for me! Save yourself!