Valuable Lessons In Parenting Heard Through My Bedroom Walls
I was a very popular neighbor to have in New York, because chances were, if my bedroom shared a wall with yours, you were going to be having a lot of sex. I could move in next to a hermit, a leper, or a 75-year-old virgin, it really didn’t matter. I don’t care how cold a streak you were on, if we were neighbors, you were going to get it on. Because otherwise, how else could I constantly hear the sounds of sex coming through my bedroom walls? Morning, evening, and afternoon, whether everyone should’ve been out drinking or quietly mourning a national tragedy, it made no difference. There was always boning for me to revel in. Honestly, there are sound editors on porn sets who haven’t heard as much screwing as I have. And not just the normal stuff either. Crazy sex, yelling sex, for a brief time in the late 90s I think I lived next to a couple who liked to have singing sex. I assumed this would just be my lot in life, that no matter where I lived, my neighbors would be doing it. Kinda like Sisyphus, but more gross. Then I moved to Los Angeles however, and everything changed.
I’m sure people in LA have sex too. I mean, you’ve got to do something to break up all the hiking and evaluating of farmers’ markets. But for the first time in my life, my neighbors have not been getting it on. Which is great, because they’re a family comprised of a toddler, a 30-year-old woman, and her elderly grandma; a sexual tableau that would be a bit much for even my experienced ears. But don’t think that means I get silence. Oh no, there will never be silence.
Instead of sex, what I hear — sometimes during the day, but constantly at night — is, well, parenting. A very specific approach to parenting, and not one that I have encountered before. I’ve never had kids, but plan to just as soon as I can find a girl willing to date me longer than one month, so I’m taking notes. I know that although many of you readers are young, you too will want to have children one day, so I thought I would share these lessons in parenting with you. Here are the pointers I’ve picked up, and the moments of guidance I’ve enjoyed. Please feel free to share them with friends.
When All Else Fails, Yell: When you’re properly raising a child, there really is no substitute for a good yell. Especially at two o’clock in the morning. “But wait,” you ask naively, “shouldn’t the child be asleep at 2 a.m.?” The answer is, I don’t know. Probably? Like I said, I’m not an expert. This also may be a good time to mention that the grandmother who sleeps in bedroom next to mine, and does the bulk of the yelling, is, well, terrifying. Essentially, she looks like a character Tyler Perry is workshopping for his next movie. She’s gigantic, extremely loud, and entirely unintelligible. But if it’s the middle of the night and you want yelling to be done, she’s the one for the job. Even I find myself trying to follow her commands an entire apartment away, which seems like a sign of good authority.
There Is To Be No Jump Rope In the House: I’ve never seen anyone love jump rope as much as this little girl loves jump rope. I see her outside jumping with such joy that I am almost inspired to join her. Then I remember that I am frail, and an adult stranger jumping rope with a child is the sort of thing that gets you arrested. But don’t jump rope in the house! Both Grandmother and Mother agree on this point. Loudly. Children will fight you on it, but stay strong.
“You Eat Another God-Damned Mouthful of That Turkey and There’s No Nic Cage for a Week!”: I have no idea who this threat was made to, or if it can even be considered a threat. I mean, if someone presented me that bargain, I would start forcing turkey into my mouth as fast as humanly possible. And are they talking about Nic Cage movies, or do they know Mr. Cage personally, and view their time with him as the greatest of life’s treasures? I don’t know. All I can do is report that this happened.
What Other Parents Let Their Children Do is of No Significance: This is a big one. Somewhere, somehow, there is a parent willing to let their child do just about anything. Light shit on fire, eat endless mouthfuls of turkey, pick up the hamster by his tail, etc. Children feel this is an important precedent, and I’m inclined to side with them. I mean, if other verdicts are good enough for the Supreme Court, it seems like that should stand for child rearing as well. But that is why I do not have kids. Also, when rejecting your child’s argument, it helps to phrase your ruling as, “I don’t give a shit what those crazy motherfuckers do!” Really drives the point home.
“Get Your Hands Out of My Underwear Drawer”: For some reason this child loves to get her hands on Grandma Perry’s underwear. I don’t know why. I can think of nothing I’d enjoy less. But I can only assume this is a dream of children everywhere — to steal old lady’s underpants. Don’t allow it, future parents. They’re a gateway drug. I think?
See, how much more instructive is that than people just having sex?
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Bonus points if you actually use different voices/accents for the different people in the imaginary conversation. That is a prestigious level of shower insanity.
I had a number of other essays I wanted to write tonight. There were other topics that deserved attention, essays I humbly felt might shed light on the human condition, on the difficulties and odd experiences we all deal with on a daily basis. But here I am, writing a defense of pubic hair.
6. The Usual Suspects
When your audience is this big, how can you really “know” it?