True Confessions of Parenting Gone Wrong (and how you can create your own ad campaign out of it)
Nobody’s perfect, right? Try as we may to channel our inner June and Ward Cleaver, most of us fall short every now and again. I like to call these transgressions from perfection my “bad mommy moments.” Forgetting to pick up my toddler up from preschool, sending a pink pillow with my son to Outdoor Ed, cracking a raw egg on my daughter’s head (more on that later). The list goes on. In fact, when I start running through the list, my son was probably right when he left me a note that said: “To: mom and dad: You suk so much for being the wrst parins in the wrold.”
If you’ve ever traumatized your kids with your own lapses into bad parenting, you might appreciate the latest ad campaign by the spaghetti sauce maker Ragu. If you need a good laugh, go to YouTube and check them out. LOL funny, I tell you. The commercials celebrate “The Longest Day of Childhood” and suggest that kids deserve a big plate of spaghetti with marinara because, and now this is only my interpretation, but because really, you are “the wrst parins in the wrold.”
One episode shows a chubby boy walking in on his parents cavorting in the bedroom–and the resulting look of horror on the kid’s face. Another episode shows a girl staring at her hamster, which according to a sheepish-looking dad on the couch has had a miraculous recovery from some hamster-borne illness. A voice croons:
“Your hamster was sick, now he’s feeling all right
But his fur colors changed…he was gray, now he’s white.”
If we can’t laugh at our imperfect parenting, we might just cry. Ragu recently launched an app that lets you celebrate your trauma-inducing parenting moments by creating your own “Longest Day” commercial. Upload a video or a series of pictures, type in a description, and the app puts it to music. A word of caution: I had trouble uploading horizontal pictures. Verticals worked better.
Now, I generally don’t go running for the camera when I’m having a bad-mommy moment, but I did take pictures of my oldest son when he was a toddler and I’d dressed him up in a pink tutu and a furry pink stole with a sparkly brooch. My husband, who was sleeping, was appalled to see his man-baby dressed like a Disney princess (all the while playing with trucks). I loaded those pics into the app and it was pretty darn funny. I had better luck loading vertical photos than horizontal photos. The app works on iPhones and should soon be out on Androids, too.
What follows is a full confessional of bad-mommy moments, any of which could have qualified for “Longest Day” status, if only I’d had the video at the ready. I’ve also added a few doozies submitted by other bad parents I know. Mention the phrase “bad parenting moment,” and you will invariably get knowing nods and a good story.
- So the egg thing: I was baking muffins with my daughter one afternoon. She was losing her enthusiasm for the project, so to keep things lively and entertaining, I thought I’d crack an egg on her forehead instead of the edge of the counter. Now, if you’ve ever cracked an egg on your own skull (which I did next to see what the heck she was crying so hard about) you’d know it really hurts.
- I have a pile of clothes in need mending. It is some four feet high and stuffed in a closet. I generally leave the torn shirts and pants in the heap long enough that the kids grow out of them. It’s an efficiency, really. But the October I was delinquent in sewing the gaping hole in my daughter’s mermaid costume, she ended up fixing it herself with a wad of masking tape.
- The Tooth Fairy is so darn unreliable, don’t you think? I can’t tell you how many times my kids have put a tooth under their pillows and the next morning, it’s still there. Sometimes it takes three nights for the money to show up.
- Last year, that ding-dong Santa promised my daughter a Fijit friend to be delivered post-holiday, posthaste. Then Santa, who’s as bad as that rotten Tooth Fairy, kept forgetting. Then I found a sad note in the mailbox that read: “Dear Santa, Wer is my fijit frend? It finally arrived in late February.
- Here’s a tip: When you’re backcountry skiing while towing two toddlers in a sled, do not take the turns at high speed. The sled will tip over and they kids will cry a whole lot.
- Sometimes I promise to bring lunches up to school and I forget, forcing my kids to eat the school macaroni and cheese. This is torture. When I’m super busy, I’ve been known to bribe my kids with $1 if they’ll just eat the macaroni and cheese and save me making cold lunch.
- My friend Mary has a brood of gluten-free kids, so most days she makes them lunch. When they come home, they put their lunchboxes on the counter. On one particular morning, when the school lunch was gluten-free, she told the kids they’d be having hot lunch. (She is also not a fan of whipping up lunch during the morning rush.) Her youngest didn’t get the message and grabbed yesterday’s lunch off the counter. After school, the poor little critter said simply, “Mom, my lunch was terrible today.”
- Generally speaking, I try not to yell or scream at my kids. But one day, while I was cleaning leaves out of a window well, my darling toddler chucked a rock the size of a softball down onto my cranium, leaving a nasty goose egg. I must admit to raising my voice in an exceedingly unkind tone and perhaps using some inappropriate language. Sometimes you can’t help but lose your cool.
- When my kids were babies, I would occasionally arrive at my destination before realizing I hadn’t actually strapped them into the car seat. Doh.
- I went out shopping and forgot my cell phone on the day my son started throwing up at school. While I as at Macy’s, he was suffering for hours on the couch in the nurse’s office.
- I have forgotten to bring my children to doctor appointments and birthday parties and to pick them up from school and soccer. The worst is when I forget it’s my turn to run the carpool and other people’s kids are waiting on the steps for me. My friend Christina reports that she has on occasion driven all the way to piano lessons only to realize one of her three kids was still at home.
- Full disclosure on the pink pillowcase: I was walking my fifth grader to school with all his bags packed for outdoor ed when he asked me,
“Mom, which pillow did you pack?”
Me: I don’t know…a pink one…pink-ISH, you know, it’s sort of off-white, I mean.”
Son: Whaaaat!! Come on!!! Pink? You have GOT to be kidding me!!!!”
(The crisis was narrowly averted by me dashing home and getting a blue pillowcase before the bus left.)
- After taking a parenting class about consequences, I decided to stand firm on the oft-repeated threat: “If you’re not ready by 8 o’clock, I’m leaving without you!” My son likes to remind me that I drove off that day and made him walk alone to school through the cold and the snow on a day that also happened to be pajama day. Wrst parin ever.
Finally, a note to my kids: At least your parents never left you behind after church and drove off with all your brothers and sisters in the back of the stationwagon pointing and laughing at you as you sprinted down the street, in tears, chasing the car. (True story.) At least you never lost part of your finger to frostbite like the skier I met at Red mountain whose mother routinely took long hikes in subzero weather with her newborn in a baby backpack. And at least I never fed the animals at the zoo by dipping you headfirst into a cage or let you sleep with snakes or let you play with guns while drinking beer. There are parents out there who are worse than me. (You can see pics of them at www.thechive.com ; just search for “bad parents.”) My darlings, it could be worse.
So, if you’ve ever had a bad parent moment, share it in a comment here. And remember, nobody’s perfect. Least of all parents.