I am a parent's biggest dream and biggest nightmare. That makes me sound like some sort of super-wealthy child molestor with an early 20th century English accent and a cane: "I'll pay you one meee-llion dollars for one night with your child!"
That, of course, is not what I'm talking about. Here's what I'm talking about:
I am the King of All Children.
I'm not just their king. I am their earthly deity. For some reason, kids between the ages of 0 and 10 think I am the greatest freaking guy of all time. They think I am so cool. It doesn't matter if I am actually interacting with them or ignoring the hell out of them, they will follow me around and beg me to play every silly game imaginable on earth. I have some sort of magnetic presence that makes kids so hyper that you'd think they snorted 5 or 6 lines of Pixy Styx and mistook the Robitussin for Kool-Aid again.
They give me new names. They make me play impromptu games that they are inventing as they go along. They hand me musical instruments that I don't know how to play, and beg me to create songs. They even insist that I pick them up and throw them into things that aren't safe to be thrown into.
I know you think, "Oh yeah, Kids make me play with them, too." And I'm sure they do. But not to the degree that they harrass me. I don't even have my own kids. But damn, when somebody throws a family party full of people my age and a bunch of kids, my girlfriend has to explain to any of the adults we've never met, "Look, Roth Wriscey is not going to be able to talk to any of you much tonight. It's not his fault. He's like the Elvis of children. He could try to run from them, but they'll only tackle him. If you get more than one minute to speak to him tonight, you'll be lucky. He can't tell them to go away. They won't. You can't even tell them to go away, AND THEIR YOUR KIDS!"
And they never really believe her until about half-way through any party. And that's great. Because for the first half of the party, those parents always give me these boring tired-out jokes like, "Hey, if you're gonna wind up my kids, you should have to take care of them tonight when they won't go to bed." Sure, they sort of laugh, but they're really irritated with me. I try to explain to them that I don't have a choice: That the little girls are going to make me spin in circles with them, learn hand-slap games and let them climb me like a jungle-gym. And that the boys are going to shoot me with imaginary machine guns, throw every damn toy on earth at me and punch me in the nuts. I don't stir them up on purpose. I could never even acknowledge the existence of these children and they'd still think I'm the coolest guy of all time and scream their lungs out in my honor. I know I can't stop them. I've tried! So I've learned to just accept my role on earth as a real-life SpongeBob SquarePants and enjoy it.
Get this, I am not allowed to go to my girlfriend's house between 6 p.m. and 8:30. Why? Because she lives at her best friend's house. And her best friend has a 7 year old girl and a 4 year old boy. They love me so much, I could talk them into killing you. (Yes, you, you reading this.) And those kids don't even know you. And they can't drive. But if I asked them to do it. They'd google your address and steal their mom's keys and stop at a gun shop along the way to finish you off. All because I said to. They also think my name is "Mr. Potato Head." And Mr. Potato Head here had to ban himself from visiting his girlfriend during those hours of the evening, because that's when those two disciples of Mr. Potato are supposed to eat dinner and go to sleep. And if I even set foot in that house and try to walk straight to my girlfriend's room - Yeah, that'll be the day! When I do that, those kids run up and latch on to each side of me and beg me to eat their food. Not because they don't like the food, but because they think it would be so cool if Mr. Potato Head honored them by eating something that once touched their plate! Yes, they think I'm that cool. And once I'm there, those kids won't eat or go to bed no matter how much their poor mother threatens the life out of them.
So just know this: If I'm ever at a party and get your kids so wound up they won't go to bed after you get home, just remember one little thing. You got to have fun at a party full of adults for the first time, without being constantly interrupted by the taps of your kids telling you that so-and-so called them a name. They didn't bother you at all. They were too busy punching me in the nuts. You're welcome