From Calgary, home to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth (though I’m partial to the Stampede and Suicide Race in Omak, Wash.), comes a fine shout-out to DadWagon from columnist and stay-at-home dad Jeremy Klaszus.
In his column for the Calgary Herald, Klaszus wrote about dads who get angry at their children. I was, naturally, the lead example in his column: now all of Alberta knows that I wanted to kill my pre-lingual lovemuffin because he was screaming in the tub a week ago.
I’m happy enough being the poster child for paternal anger, though, because as Klaszus rightly points out, anger and frustration are pretty common emotions that have nevertheless been edited out of our collective story about having and raising kids.
He argues that it’s not that different from postpartum depression. Those who’ve never experienced it wonder how you can feel that way about your own children. Those who have been through it just don’t talk about it afterwards.
Klaszus also links this Omertà to those rare instances where parents actually do beat their kids, sometimes to death. It’s the worst kind of crime, of course, but it does have roots in the same daily vexations that Klaszus and I share. I don’t presume to understand all the awful mysteries of infanticide, but I would bet that parents who kill their children are not contract killers. They are assholes and bullies perhaps, but not professional assassins. There’s rarely a plan. And not all of them are mentally ill. Sometimes they are just people who start getting angry and don’t stop for whatever reason.
But there’s nothing particularly unique to Canada about all that. What did seem as foreign as a looney to me in Klaszus’ column was this exchange:
I appreciated Thornburgh’s honesty because the previous morning, I’d been ready to angrily throw my own 18-month-old daughter out the back door. She’d been shrieking impatiently as I made her oatmeal. Eventually I snapped, repeatedly and loudly shouting “BE QUIET!” until my wife came downstairs to intervene.
“What’s going on?”
“She’s losing it,” I said, accusing the wee one.
“And you respond with a tantrum of your own? Go upstairs and take a few minutes.”
Is that true, Canadian readers? Up north, can a wife really just give her husband a time-out like that? That’s bad news for me, because I hate time-outs almost as much as my kids do. And yet I was thinking of moving to Canada when Sarah Palin is elected president in 2012. What to do?