I’d like to be one of those parents who can say that my kids have never heard me use profanity. But I can’t do that. In fact, if you live within a mile of my house, it is highly likely that if you have kids, they’ve heard me use profanity. Stepping on shit my kids leave to blend in, chameleon-like, on my multi-colored rug makes me profane. And my kids do this a lot. Like, a lot a lot.
My kids’ preferred time of unintentional sadism is perpetual. My kids lay landmines around the house at all times of the day and leave them at night, surprise Easter eggs to be discovered by an ill-placed step on the way to get some water that my very well-hydrated kids wake from their sleep to request with urgency.
Their weapon of choice right now is Bey Blades, the tiny multi-piece spinning tops that are two parts plastic and one part metal that doubles as the kind of shit that makes you ponder life and procreation once you step on one. It makes you consider both your life choices and why anybody would have kids, a parallel decision for many of us (a retrospective one for a vast many of us as well). I’ve stepped on many Bey Blades. I will step on more. I hate Bey Blades with my whole heart but I can’t tell my children this, it would crush them. Every time I step on a Bey Blade, though, I consider, all the way through to prison, the possible ramifications of literally tossing my child through a window: Would he land on his feet? If nobody is around to see him fly through the window, did he really do it? How thick are my windows...would they make it through or would it just result in a thud and a confused collapse onto my couch followed by tears and me saying sorry over and over? All paths lead to prison. Stepping on shit in the middle of the night makes me think of what prison might be like.
I’ve stepped on Legos. And tiny toy dinosaurs. Fuck stegosauruses, fam. Triceratops? I’m glad they’re extinct. If they weren’t I’d be personally responsible for their demise since I step on so many, their horns piercing the bottom of my feet while I pick up something else to throw at a wall, hoping that this expression of both my pain and rage will somehow help the immediate pain subside. It never subsides immediately. It always takes long enough for me to envision wrapping up all of my kids’ toys and throwing them in a bottomless hole while I smirk with an evil grin as they look on and cry. I don’t want my kids to cry, let me be very clear; they do not seem to share this same concern for me or their mother, which is a shame really. You’d think at least their mother would be able to miss this type of cruel and unusual penance.
Actually, now that I think of it, she’s laughed at me several times when I’ve stepped on Legos, dinosaurs, Bey Blades, swords, etc. so I don’t wish her any leniency. The first time I saw her step on a Bey Blade piece I did an internal, mental victory lap as she yelped. One should never wish ill on their spouse, but nowhere in the Spouse Guidelines does it say that you cannot feel vindication and celebrate silently over their realization of your pain. Also, since we’re here, I’m the one who always gets up at night to get the kids their necessary hydration, risking feet and limb as I pray that that last call to “clean up” before bed was a complete victory. It is never a complete victory. My squad always goes 15-1. Always. I always find the one.
My kids, the little scamps, even have managed to play practical jokes. Just yesterday as I was coming downstairs from my top floor after gathering all of the trash from my former man-cave, which is now the children’s playroom, I spotted what looked like a rodent near a suitcase and did what anybody does when they see a rodent: I yelled: “OH SHIT, OUT DAMN SPOT!” It wasn’t a rodent, it was a damn toy dinosaur. That dinosaur went out with the trash for being a lie and a cheat like Joe Jackson.
In case it isn’t clear, I hate stepping on shit. My feet, they yearn for peace. My youngest son stepped on a Bey Blade the other day and, of course, it hurt like hell. My wife scooped him and hugged him with her soul. Nobody picked up the Bey Blade. I stepped on the Bey Blade later on. There were no hugs.
I know that I will step on more sharp toys on any of the three floors of my house. It’s inevitable. My kids don’t give a single solitary fuck about my well-being or my ability to walk when they’re adults. They don’t want me to step on anything that might cause pain, but they don’t mind if I do either. This is parenting. I am a parent.
I step on shit in the middle of the night.