Tonight, we went to my cousin’s apartment in Brooklyn to celebrate his son’s first birthday. Given the dysfunction in their house, everything that was a plan ended up not being the final plan – his wife’s sister, husband, and son were hours late (even though they had originally wanted to meet at 5pm), the cake had to be cut and eaten before dinner as opposed to after, and the restaurant got switched because of their random demands (and my cousin’s lack of balls to assert himself). Despite all the snarky remarks, ignoring, and passive aggression that were obviously in the room, little Ryan was oblivious. In pretty much all the photos I took of him, he seemed happy and healthy.
While it was great to see my little pseudo nephew (first cousin once removed… whatever you want to call it), the entire time we were sitting at their apartment and then at the restaurant, it was like I was subconsciously making a mental list of all the things I hated and did not want for my own kids and life. The list goes something like this:
1. Do not make snarky remarks to your husband in front of family/friends.
2. Don’t ignore your husband.
3. Let your child stand up and fall. And then get back up. Stop preventing him from failing. He’s never going to win if he doesn’t lose occasionally.
4. Be assertive and don’t let any neurotic or selfish in-laws dictate your child’s birthday plans. You set the date, time, and location. If they want something else, they don’t have to come. Your child, your decisions.
5. If your child rejects food, stop force feeding him. He will end up throwing it all up later anyway, and guess who will have to clean it?
I have other mental check lists, too, for other parts of life. Some have been prompted by my parents, some have come as a result of Ed and his life, and others are inspired by other neurotic people I know. It will be easier to say it than do it, but if I write them all down, maybe I will be harder on myself to enforce these rules.
By the way, Bart (Ed) came to the birthday event last night, but we never took him out of the bag. In retrospect, it was probably a better thing because it’s not like we need to expose him to any more stress than necessary. He left this world to escape it, not to relive all the tension again.