I AM a card-carrying member of a parents union. Perhaps you've heard of it. It's called the Thoroughly Irritated Radically Educated Dads. TIRED, for short.
TIRED members have years of experience dealing with children, and we've pretty much seen it all. We've stayed up all night with wailing babies. We've squeezed into kiddie rides at amusement parks. We've taken little boys to football camps. We've eaten burnt cakes from our daughters' Easy Bake Ovens.
We're the guys who've seen every bodily fluid known to man. Not because we're doctors, or soldiers, or nursing-home operators. No, we've seen every type of human nastiness because we've changed diapers.
You might think that the things we've endured as parents caused TIRED to adopt "Thoroughly Irritated" as the first two words in our name. To be honest, though, parenting isn't what made us thoroughly irritated. Parenting is what made us "Radically Educated."
We learned acceptance in that awkward moment when we saw our kids run for the first time, and realized they wouldn't make it to the NFL. We learned pragmatism when we saw our kids' love for science, and realized they'd get to keep their knees as chemists. We learned gratitude when we recognized the word "love" on a homemade birthday card in spite of the awful penmanship. We learned flexibility when we made dinner, and realized that pork and beans and lettuce could indeed make a meal.
Our radical educations have taught us a lot, and we, the members of TIRED, are thankful for the experience. So why are we "Thoroughly Irritated?" To put it bluntly, our irritation comes from Other People's Brats - OPB, for short.
You might think this is a harsh thing to say, especially as a father. But when you've done everything possible to raise your kids to be respectful little people, it's hard to stand by and watch someone else who's done just the opposite.
These people are raising OPB. And the men in my union are TIRED of it.
We can no longer sit in Starbucks and watch 2-year-old Johnny hitting his mother because she bought him a Grande Chocolatey Chip Frappuccino instead of a Venti Mocha Frappuccino with whip.
We can't take the Toys "R" Us spectacle of 4-year-old Jimmy screaming bloody murder because his mom bought him a $200 electric scooter instead of the $500 Escalade with spoilers and spinning rims.
We can't watch little Mary bite her daddy's finger at Target because he refused to get her a pack of Super Airheads at checkout. And finally, most importantly, we can no longer watch his wet-noodle attempt at discipline.
"Now, Mary," he says, sounding like Mister Rogers, as blood runs down his lacerated finger, "what did we learn about biting yesterday?"
"Shut up, moron, and buy me some Airheads!"
We, the dads of my union, are TIRED of Other People's Brats. We're so tired in fact, that if we went to a party and the DJ said, "You down with OPB?" we'd yell back, "Oh no, not me!"
That's why TIRED has decided to become more than a union. We've decided to become parental enforcers.
We're the guys you call when little Johnny is in Starbucks wielding his mother's Skinny Vanilla Soy Latte as a weapon. We're the guys you call when Mary Katherine commandeers a ShopRite shopping cart and uses it to play bumper cars in the parking lot. We're the guys you call when Other People's Brats are out of control.
But don't call us if you want Mister Rogers. Call us if you want Mr. T. We pity the fool who would bite our finger in Target, or scream bloody murder in Starbucks, or throw a temper tantrum in Toys "R" Us, because the dads of TIRED don't do timeouts.
Don't call us if you want Barney to sing, "I love you, you love me." Call us if you want Godzilla to start "Burnin' Down the House," because whether America's parents like it, here is the truth: If we're going to avoid raising a generation of entitled brats who think it's someone else's job to give them what they demand at a moment's notice, we're all going to need to get TIRED.
So send us your bratty, send us your disrespectful, send us your huddled masses yearning for boundaries. We the dads of TIRED are happy to give them a starring role in "Scared Straight." The way I figure, it's the only way to set America free from the tyranny of Other People's Brats.