That Crazy Parent

Teachers could tell you many stories about those crazy parents, the ones who overreact to every little thing and create drama over slight misunderstandings. We have all encountered those parents. I am actually fortunate to say that while I have dealt with those parents over the years, my stories are very mild in comparison to most. I am not a conflict magnet, and maybe my easygoing nature keeps parents from really losing it. But I am a teacher, so I have heard the stories of irrational Hulk-like creatures rampaging through the halls.

Nevertheless, I have seen enough overreactions and heard enough stories to know that I never want to be that crazy parent. One time I said to a coworker that I wished parents could just be rational about their children, and she told me, "Parents can't be rational about their children. I can't, and you won't be able to either." If I didn't have as much respect as I do for this colleague, I probably would have assumed she was one of those crazy parents too.

Well, here I am now with my first child making her debut in about 10 weeks. My wife's pregnancy has brought many changes to our lives, but there was one I did not expect.

I have started to become that parent.

It started subtly. I have always been protective, but I noticed that as my pregnant wife would cross the street that I would become particularly alert to traffic. Really, all my senses have become heightened since I found out I would be a father. I just notice things more quickly, particularly threatening things. I didn't think much of it because the changes were only slightly noticeable. It wasn't like I developed some kind of Spider Sense.

Then a couple of weeks ago my wife shared something on her Facebook page about the birth. It was a harmless comment about something she learned in her birth class that she really liked. Those of you who have shared anything about your parenting/birthing choices on Facebook surely know where this is heading. You can't share anything on Facebook related to parenting without  receiving unwanted advice, unwarranted criticism, or unwelcome opinions, typically from people you barely know. My wife's post received some condescending comments from a few acquaintances who really felt an overwhelming urge to put her in her place. These people generally drive me crazy, vehemently sharing their views with almost strangers about any topic. However, I usually ignore them. If they want to embarrass themselves on Facebook by looking like know-it-all idiots, they can go right ahead.

This time was different. The comments were really mostly harmless, just condescending. Some of them may actually have believed they were being helpful. My wife was mildly annoyed by it all, but she responded with a clearly-worded, rational, polite answer, as either of us would normally do in the situation. For some reason though, I was irate. I wanted to say terrible things to those people. I wanted to hurt them... and I'm a pacifist.

I do get upset with people from time to time, but I am usually good at calming myself and keeping my cool. I rarely have angry outbursts about anything. But for some reason this time, I couldn't shake it. I was really worked up about it for almost two hours. I couldn't stop thinking about how angry I was and how much I wanted to hurt those people... people I don't really know because they said some slightly condescending things to my wife (who is perfectly able to handle herself) about an unimportant Facebook post.

My Wolverine claws were out, and I was about to go on a berserker rage over nothing. It just felt instinctive like I needed to protect my wife from harm. Rationally, I knew (and kept reminding myself) that nothing had happened, that it was really insignificant, but it felt serious. I finally managed to get over it (but can't you tell I am still annoyed) and move on. In the process, I realized that I was only a few steps away from being that crazy parent that teachers tell stories about.

So to my future daughter, this is just the beginning. When you actually get here, I am only going to get worse. I apologize in advance for being that crazy parent.

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