Louis C.K. is one of my favorite funny people and is quickly becoming my parenting role model. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter he talks about parenting, among other things. About his daughters, he says:
I talk to them about work, and I hope they both have shitty minimum wage retail jobs when they’re old enough. I really try to be aware of not letting them grow up weird or spoiled, which is easier to do here than it is in L.A. My 13-year-old daughter leaves the house at 7:15 every morning and takes a smelly city bus to school way uptown. It’s like 8 degrees out, and it’s dark and she’s got this morning face and I send her out there to take a bus. Meanwhile, my driver is sitting in a toasty Mercedes that’s going to take me to work once both kids are gone. I could send her in the Mercedes and then have it come back to get me, but I can’t have my kid doing that. I can’t do that to her. Me? I earned that f—ing Mercedes. You better f—ing believe it.
This makes it clear that Louie wants the best for his daughters. He doesn’t want to give it to them, he wants them to understand it and earn it on their own. There will be no snowflakes in the Székely household.
I had shitty jobs when I was a teenager. So did my wife. Working some crap, dead-end job imparts a certain appreciation upon you. It taught me the value of money, education, and ambition. As much as I loved working in the video store, there was exactly zero chance that I wanted to make $6 an hour for the rest of my life. I want that for my daughter the same way that Louie wants it for his. Of course, I’m also in no danger of giving my kid(s) the life that he can give his, so I guess it will be an easier lesson for me to teach.
This isn’t the only example of Louie dolling out parenting advice. In his stand-up acts he frequently discusses the hardships of parenting. My personal favorite is when he points out his four-year-old is an asshole because sometimes she refuses to put her shoes on when they need to leave.
Louie talks about parenting being hard and boring. I can’t remember the exact wording or context, but he said that you might not be a good parent unless you’ve given your kid the finger when their back was turned at least three times. His point in all of this bleak humor is that if you are doing your job as a parent, and striving to raise a functional and productive member of society, it will not be easy.
This mentality resonates with me in a number of ways. As I’ve said before, parenting was not an easy or natural transition for me. I don’t know if it is for everyone, but it seems like we are expected to naturally fall into the role of parent. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my best to be a good dad from day one – it just took me a little bit to develop my parenting skill set.
Everywhere you turn, there are people making parenting look easy. My brain does it’s best to reassure me that this is a carefully crafted illusion, and that I outgrew magic shows decades ago. The rest of me does its best to crush me into a quivering pulp because I’ve not been an apex-parent from the start.
Society has done my generation no favors by manufacturing success for us. Trophies and awards were handed to us at every opportunity. This has resulted in a group of people who are generally averse to failure or difficulty, and expect to succeed without much work, not to mention our need for validation after every few seconds of effort.
Louie offers a hilarious counterpoint to this.
According to my wife, there are all sorts of mom blogs about this very topic, but I’m not a mom, and Louis C.K. is pretty awesome, so I’ll be taking my parenting advice from him. When faced with a parenting dilemma from now on, I’m going to ask myself what Louie would do, and then do that thing, even if it’s giving my kid the finger and then eating a lot of buffalo wings and ice cream after she goes to bed.
I choose to do this because he is honest and it normalizes my feelings. I want to be a good dad more than I want to be anything else, and it’s easy to get discouraged when I’ve been conditioned to believe that success is guaranteed. Having a voice that helps me feel like my feelings and struggles are normal is a very important thing.
Being able to laugh at a dad talking about how hard parenting can be lets me know that I’m okay, and I’m probably doing a good job. If it was easy, and I thought it was always fun, I’m probably not paying much attention or actually parenting my child.