parenting in real life

I determined once (in a very good unsober state) that the majority of my life's disappointments were caused by the vast amount of 80's movies and tv shows that were burned into my young pulpy brain.

I thought that school, and high school, and boys, and parties with high school boys, would happen a certain way. That marriage and children and a house and car and haircut appointments and Mom necklaces would all look this way and make me feel this way. I knew the ups and downs of life; at 11 years old I traced them like memories I already had when scanning the covers of the VHS New Releases, or devouring the latest issue of The Babysitter's Club.

This is what I would turn into. Own. Feel. Kiss. Love. Marry Corey Haim.

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Cool. So fucking cool.

LIES. Oh my friends, they were LIES. And false hopes and dreams dashed and then Corey Haim died. And the most overwhelming sadness and disbelief set in that I was going to have to mold this life of mine into something wonderful. Nobody else was going to swoop in and do it for me. 

Magic was fake; same with coincidence and boys who stole cars for you. 

Is it ok that I still feel sad about that?


Here's the upside to reality: Freddy Krueger isn't real. Fifty years from now, when our spines are like rock sugar and we eventually succumb to the sweet rocking Marley vibes of a water bed, there will be no knife glove spurting through our organs from deep within the waves.

Nightmares dissipate like a fog rolling out as soon as I snap my eyes open. Thank you, real life, for that.


One night, inching its way into the inky skies of 3:30 am, when you are awoken by the cellular knowledge that there is a presence near you, taking up the now displaced space and air. Eyes snap open. Your baby rabbit heart-rate stills when you realize it is just your three year old, versus a serial killer from 1984.

But then.

Her face.

Her lower arms.

Smudged, and in the mostly dark you think/groan OH SWEET SHIT. She is covered in shit.

Then she murmurs, so sadly and softly that your ears reach out to hear it, then recoil, "Mama, my nose is bleeding."

It's 3:30 am. Do you know where your emergency parenting skills are?

So, under the clinical lights of the bathroom where you perch her to do your inspection, it is now very clear that it's dried blood coating all the exposed skin not sheltered by cupcake pajamas. 


I always ramble on (again, when unsober) to my childless friends that you parent as you live. If you're a dick, you dick parent. If you're a spazz, you spazz parent. If you're cool, you're a cool parent. (And all the Moms on the playground go home that night and try to replicate your winged eye liner.)

But every now and then I snap my own theory, like a juvie football team racing through a paper banner, and surprise myself. Because nobody that knows me would ever say under oath how calm I remain in stressful circumstances.


Warm washcloth to destroy the gore. CHECK.

Soothing words that calm her features so she just closes her eyes as I scrub blood off her temples. CHECK.

Googling "how to stop nosebleed" with nimble fingers at a time of day I forgot existed. CHECK.

The ability to crouch for much longer than my terrible upper leg strength typically allows as I take full charge of Operation NoseBleed and shut that nose tap down. CHECKITY CHECK CHECK.

My nosebleed game = ON POINT is basically the crux and meat of this tale. And I didn't even have to watch Corey Haim deal with one before he got his license to pull it off. That's pretty fucking cool.