Parenting Schizophrenia

After my first born son graduated from high school, I arrived at this conclusion; parents are psychotic. The aforementioned bittersweet event launched a moment of refection or hysterics, depending on perspective. Bottom line; the American Psychiatric Association was founded shortly after Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel.

According to Wikipedia Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a single person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. We begin with two sane carbon units. These sane units naively decide to reproduce. After conception comes joyous celebrating on the part of both parties. Then, almost imperceptibly, the female unit begins the slow dissent to DID. Post celebration brings unusual food cravings, grotesquely swollen ankles, hideous stretch marks and weight gain accompanied by an unnatural desire to clean and organize, also known as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). These changes cause distress to the formerly joyous female. Some days she becomes completely irrational causing her mate to slink away fearing for his life.

The anxiously awaited day arrives. Slippery, wet, screaming, newborn appears. Caught up in the tender moment, the delusion parents erroneously believe that life, and pregnancy weight gain, will return to normal. Instead, more DID symptoms begin to manifest. Sleep deprived parents suffer from the inability to recall important information like when they last showered. Endless laundry and dirty diapers often lead to a lack of intimacy between the once amorous parents. Formerly communicative questions like, “What’s for dinner?” may launch a sudden outburst of anger without justified cause. Adaptation becomes the new normal, each milestone bringing its own unique set of psychosis.

Caring for an immobile baby presents relatively few challenges. But the new parents are discontent and feel Junior should progress to individual mobility. One day Daddy comes home to the excitement of Junior scooting, crawling and ultimately walking. Adulation is bestowed upon the talented offspring who is ecstatic in his newfound freedom. As unsuspecting baby heads for danger, in the form of a breakable heirloom, Mom and Dad immediately realize; baby’s broadening world has brought the need for border tightening to theirs. Mobile baby requires constant supervision. Bathroom breaks suddenly become a family affair since baby can no longer be left alone. The abrupt imprisonment, compounded by lack of privacy, may lead to severe impairment in daily functioning. Yet another telltale sign of mental illness.

Little Junior’s first attempts at communication are oh so endearing. The adoring parents encourage the cooing by imitation, a strange phenomenon when emulated by adults with an educated grasp on the English language. Nonetheless, somehow Junior’s cooing evolves into fully recognizable words, and sentences. Euphoria dissolves quickly the first time Junior tells Mommy, “no!” Oh the shock. The precious bundle of upwardly mobile drool has exerted verbal independence. The credulous parents have no inkling that this first assertion of independence sets the stage for future skirmishes. The ugly truth of denial arises.

Life progresses quickly. Wandering in a schizophrenic haze blinds parents to reality; each passing milestone brings them one step closer to a precipice. In a blur of Kindergarten graduations, skinned knees, little league baseball games, and science fair projects the years pass quickly. Hormonal changes creep in quietly. The mild mannered, cherubic, sweetheart inexplicably transforms, overnight, into the Incredible Hulk. No one knows what sets the monster off or where it stores the large quantities of food it now consumes. Confused parents wonder at the necessity of 11 p.m. showers followed by a repeat performance at 9 a.m. the next morning. Perhaps tossing and turning equates to heavy exertion? Timid parents dare not question Hulk’s grooming habits; any answer provided would be an indiscernible mumble. Instead, gritting their teeth, they dutifully pay the ever increasing water bill. During these tumultuous teenage years the Monster mischievously maneuvers closer and closer to freedom’s ledge. He wants to jump and cannot understand why his parents keep screaming, “NO!” The parenting conundrum; equipping the child to jump while simultaneously letting them go. No easy feat.

As the adolescent emerges, shedding his Hulk skin, shocking truths reveal themselves. From somewhere deep inside, wisdom gurgles up and flows out of the mouth of that almost, fully grown adult. The shocked parents realize their sanity has returned. The transfer of knowledge is complete. Baby boy is ready to take on the world. Mom and Dad are standing by knowing their job lasts a lifetime but adequate preparation makes this leg of the journey a pleasure for both parent and child.

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