Bloggers exploit their kids. We do. I do. The site you’re on right now—and every other parenting site, for that matter—is rife with moms and dads who turn their children into content. Why is that? Because we are not all that interesting on our own. Think about it. Who would you rather read about: An adult who persevered through a jammed printer at their insurance adjustments firm, or a kid who cooked a bag of popcorn in the dryer? No brainer.
But is it fair what we do? Our kids never get to share their side of the story. The reason I put the popcorn in the dryer is because Dad was watching football and kept saying, “In a minute, hon.”
So I’m giving my child his opportunity to be heard. Over the course of two sessions (one at our kitchen counter, the other at Moe’s Burritos), I interviewed my eight-year-old son, Jackson. I asked him how my wife, Brandy, and I are doing as parents, what we do well, where we need to improve, etc. I thought I’d hear gut-punching, sobering truths about my parenting skills. What I got was a series of sweet, sincere, zig-zagging thoughts on everything from cancer to Osama bin Laden to Old Navy.
I know you write stories about me. That’s awesome! Actually I told everyone in my class that I was in the magazine, and Nicholas was the only one who believed me. And then my teacher had a Parenting magazine, and she looked at it, and she said I was there. And everyone was like, “What the?!?”
I like being in the magazine, especially because I get to wear cool clothes and stuff in the pictures. If I could go somewhere to get cool clothes, it would be Old Navy.
What could you and Mommy do better? Hmm. I don’t know. I don’t think you get too mad. You know who would make me really mad? Gabe in The Lightning Thief. He’s the stepfather. He says things like, “Get me a soda!” and orders people around all the time.
I know you try hard as a dad. People make mistakes. No one’s perfect. You know who’s perfect at being bad? Osama bin Laden.
My favorite part about you guys is… like, you’re kind and stuff, but what I really like is your talents. Mom is really good at reading, and you’re really good at drawing.
You and Mommy make me the laugh the hardest. Remember that time you did something so funny, and I was drinking milk, and you made me spit milk out on the table? I think you were doing a funny voice or something.
A mom and dad’s job is to take care of kids until they get their own house. Maybe when I get older I might help you and give you some money. Like if you can’t afford to pay the bill and they’re going to take away your home, I can give you the money you need.
Dad, I have $5. So when we go to Target, can I get one of those packs of Halo guys? If I don’t have enough money, maybe you could help out?
When I grow up, I want to be on a SWAT team, and sell my art. I’ll be an artist and a SWAT team guy.
Know what I just saw? I saw a little girl that was bald. I think she has cancer or something. Like my friend Carter. He wore a bandanna on his head, and I thought there was something wrong, that his hair was falling out. But actually the bandanna was holding the hair on. There is this medicine that you take for cancer that makes you bald.
Do you know how to play War? Oh, that’s right. You know how to play. I know you were supposed to buy playing cards for us. I understand that you’re busy and stuff. Actually you’re always busy because you’re always going to work. Can I tell you what would be awesome? If our home was two miles from your work. You would have more time with us, and you’d get home faster. Maybe I could wish for that on my birthday.
Oh, you know what? I have one wish that’s a secret. Like a really really big secret. I’m going to keep it to myself. You guys will find out the secret when I’m 19 or 20. Actually, I can’t give you any more hints.