Resting Dad Face

Being an adult is rough. No joke. There are things that we’re forced to endure on a daily basis that, if I knew as a kid, would have kept me from being so eager to get here. To be completely frank, the ability to buy alcohol and vote totally wasn’t worth the trade-off.

You deal with a lot of things that make you want to roll into a ball and sleep. Whether it’s something drastic like the hateful words of a loved one or something as innocuous as your car making that funny noise that you know will end up costing you $750, there are plenty of reasons to lose it. It takes all the effort in the world to not pull over to the median on the highway, open the door, and lay down right there on the divider.

Police come over, ask if you’re OK, and you just start flailing your arms. “No! Go away! I hate you!”

You could do that at ten. Remember? Your TV show gets pushed off for an hour because baseball ran late or your brother ate the last Jell-O Pudding Pop, so you throw yourself against the wall and slither to the ground in a heap of misery. Tears and despair flow for all to see. You wish you were dead. You scream it to everyone who will listen. The most common phrase? “It’s not fair!”

Inevitably, some adult came over and goes, “Life isn’t fair”. You make that noise that little kids make. “Ehhh!” You throw your arms into a circle and lean your head so far back that you almost fold over. The adult walks away, the thing that upset you is still there, but, truth be told, the full body spasm made you feel a bit better.

Having a hissy fit helps. It feels good. Scream into a pillow. Punch a bathroom wall. Knock everything off your dresser with a Cobra Kai leg-sweep style swoosh of your arm. They all work. It takes the built up energy in your body and turns it into a kinetic explosion of rage. You get it out.

Then you grow up and all of that is off the table.

You can’t knock the milk jugs off the Starbucks counter or tell your boss “shut up, you’re ugly.” You take what life throws at you and push on. You go numb on the outside while the world spins insanity on the outside.

Making matters worse is that the issues now stretch far beyond an announcer saying, “The regularly scheduled Muppet Show will return next week due to the New York Yankees versus Toronto Blue Jays next on your local station.” It’s worse than any of that. It’s real. It’s deep. And, in many cases, it hurts.

You can’t mope your way through the day like you did in fifth grade. You can’t tell your coworkers to stay away from you, like you did to your classmates. You can’t cry in the corner or throw your backpack against the wall at recess. You have to take it. You have to plaster on a plastic smile, greet the world, and pretend that everything is OK. That’s being an adult.

Sure, technically you could still do those things. Technically, you can still do anything, to be honest. Technically, you can kill people and eat marbles. It’s the repercussions that make it off limits. Telling off customers, screaming at supervisors, and trying to fight the guy at the post office are all moments that will earn deeper punishments than you ever faced in your early years.

It gets even worse if you have kids. You don’t read that a lot in parenting blogs, huh? Not a lot of paragraphs begin with, “Know what sucks about having kids?” But, know what sucks about having kids? You have to keep that bubbling inferno capped even in your own home. Explosions, while making you feel good, can scar that little person watching the Muppets..

You can’t scream. You can’t yell. You can’t say all the bad things that – ugh! – you’re dying to say. You have to smile. Eat your Cream of Wheat. Talk about the latest cute thing the cat did. You do it all with that blank expression on your face.

The resting Dad face.

One day, you can tell your kid about some of the insanity you had swirling around, but not today. A nine year old doesn’t need to hear about your worries over the status of your job, your unrealized dreams, or your paralyzing personal issues. Telling them won’t give you peace of mind or find a solution. All it will do is pass the anxiety on to a person who isn’t capable of dealing with it.

No. That’s on you. You’re the adult. You get the beer and ballots, so you take the stress. Your kid lives his or her life and you live yours. You keep that bottled up and, at least on the outside, you go numb.

Then, just when you can’t take it anymore and you’re struggling to keep it all together, you look over. You see your kid, the one you are fighting to keep from knowing your inner turmoil, throw herself against the sliding glass doors of the kitchen, screaming that someone took the last juice box. She bellows out with the pain of a million daggers.

It’s not fair!

Then, like a battered warrior, you tell her the one thing you remember from days gone by.

Life isn’t fair.

And you walk away, feeling a bit better, as you see her throw her head back and spasm her body like she’s being electrocuted. Watching it might not be the same as punching a hole in the wall, but to a dad who has no other outlet, it’s definitely worth it.

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