The other morning, I chatted with a friend of mine. The conversation admittedly felt a bit one-sided. We spoke almost exclusively about my kids. You know, the usual stuff. Identical girl twins. Two-and-a-half. Four weeks in the NICU. They don’t stop climbing on things nor do they stop talking. After about five minutes of this, you know what this “friend” has the nerve to say to me? “That’s great, sir, but you’re holding up the checkout lane. Do you have a ShopRite card?” Inconceivable! (I hate that movie by the way. Don’t try to defend it.)
So I check out with all my Happy Tot pouches, even some for my kids, wondering why does this person not want to hear about them. Then it dawns on me. No one cares! I mean, except for you guys that are reading this right now. But ultimately, unless you are my relatives, you are likely listening to me drone on while your eyes roll to the back of your head and you wonder if I’m ever going to stop talking. I’m not and I’m sorry, but there’s a perfectly good explanation.
See, I am actually now well aware that neither my parent friends nor childless friends have any interest in hearing about what my kids did that day. In fact, I would argue that parenting anecdotes (unless especially funny or unusual) are now fifth on the list of everyday things no one wants to talk to you about. I am absolutely guilty of all five of these, but I do my best to temper at least the top four. Because, say it with me….”NO ONE CARES!” That’s right. Good job, everyone. So what is this top five? Glad you asked.
- Your job. This is typically just a first meeting discussion, usually right after an introduction where I focus on the handshake and totally ignore your name. I will now just call you “Buddy” because I wasn’t listening. We then have to exchange pleasantries about what we do for a living. It’s an inevitable topic because outside of your family, it’s what you can most easily identify with and put a label to. It’s also incredibly boring and I would rather stare at you in silence thinking you might be an astronaut potato farmer or something awesome like that before you tell me you’re an accountant.
- The weather. This is the aftermath to a boring job discussion. Silence must be broken. We are both familiar with what rain is, and we can see it, so naturally, “Wow, it’s really coming down out there.” Of course since you’re an astronaut potato farmer, now we have to spend 10 minutes talking about how Mars is not an ideal planet for potatoes due to its regularly inclement weather. Ugh, I hate Buddy already.
- Your fantasy teams. Oh, you drafted that guy instead of that other guy and lost your game by 1 point? I don’t even want to hear about your real football team.
- Your poker bad beats. You mean you had pocket aces and he beat you with 4-9 offsuit?? Oh man, I want to hear every detail. You lost $5??? I’d have paid you $5 to not have heard the story.
- YOUR KIDS! Yup, and here we are, down at #5. Look, I love my kids and I’m sure you love your kids. But no one really wants to hear about their straight A’s or flawless recitals or touchdowns. Why? Because we’re self-absorbed and they’re not our kids. It’s ironic that I write a blog about my own, because, say it with me, “NO ONE CARES!”
All my friends without kids must be wondering then: Why do you talk about them so much? The truth is just that we literally have nothing else going on in our lives. My family is my life. I no longer spend Tuesday nights at Bar A’s Beat the Clock. Thursday night softball remains a part of my past. Weeknights or weekends with friends have become extremely rare. We don’t go to Bonaroo or Firefly. We don’t go to Jets games (neither do the Jets it seems). Happy hour doesn’t even happen. And I really wouldn’t want it any other way.
Basically, if you want to have a conversation with me and don’t want to talk about my kids, then you have two options. The first is you better have some really cool shit to talk about so I can live vicariously through you. The second is you better be okay with me making up details about my life like how I’m now an astronaut potato farmer and they made a movie about me.
What’s sad is I have distanced myself from childless friends, very close friends. Not on purpose, but maintaining friendships when you have very little common ground is a challenge. They’re traveling the world while I’m deciding which Costco my family is going to trek to this weekend. I hope in due time to renew those friendships as the kids get older.
As for parent friends of mine, I don’t mean to be insulting. Your kids’ report cards should be very important to you. But I don’t care that your kid got an A in music class. Just like you shouldn’t care that my children ate waffles this morning for breakfast.
Most of the time, I find parent conversations to revolve around one-upping each other. I’m guilty of it, but usually it’s of the, “Your kid did something ridiculous? Okay, hold my beer” variety. These I am actually okay with, because as I stated in my first-ever post, why did you have kids if not to laugh at them? So if you have stories like, “My kid got their head stuck in the banister twice” (me as a kid) or “My kid is deathly afraid of cartoon owls and we had to take down the wall decals in their room because of the nightmares” (Thing 1 just the other day, despite the decals being there for 2+ years), well those I’m all ears for.
I have the greatest kids in the world, and guess what? So do you, because what counts is how special they are TO YOU. So when I ask you to repeat that “no one cares,” your response should really be, “Who cares?” You have every right to be proud of them and talk about them, so go ahead. Have at it.
What matters is that they’re the greatest kids in YOUR world and that they know this. Life is hard enough and these impressionable young minds need parents who are proud of who they are and support them in what they do. So talk away, because while I probably am not really listening and am just waiting for my turn to tell you about how great my kids are, you’ve still earned the right to speak of them with pride. So am I sorry? I mean sort of, but not really. My girls will always be superheroes to me, ever since their first days in the NICU. I’m not offended if you don’t want to hear about them, but it’s not going to stop me from talking about them. Did I tell you how I’m teaching them to farm potatoes on Mars, Buddy?