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Captain Fantastic vs Mom Fan Tastic


Moments before watching Captain Fantastic at the cinema (where they now serve wine bless them), I shouted at Kai for jumping on the couch with a vienna in each hand. He would jump, then bend down just low enough for Beast to take a bite then take a bite himself. He then ran through the house, with a very full mouth. Laughing, with Beast chasing him like prey. There is so much wrong with this picture. 1. Processed meat. Just Evil. 2. Running while laughing while barely being able to chew his mouth was so full, my grandmother would have died right there on the spot. 3. Sharing saliva with a beast who licked his balls an hour ago. The list goes on. Now here I was, comparing my project-keep-the-carpet-clean with Captain Fantastic’s project-free-the-food and feeling guilty for shouting at a child for being a child. I felt every bit as inconsistent as the moment had been, since clearly this (jumping on couches) is sometimes allowed. Captain Fantastic would so not like me. And I want him to like me.

First of all, Captain Fantastic would never feed his kids processed meat. His kids hunt for their own fresh meat. Captain Fantastic’s kids probably eat a whole range of fruit and veg, including berries, nuts and the odd insect I’m sure. Me? I Google the worst pictures of bad teeth on the Internet and tell my kids their teeth would look like this if they don’t eat the butternut spaghetti I just hunted for at Woolworths. (This did result in Kai actually scooping the spaghetti up with two hands, he could not eat it fast enough. But it also caused some psychological damage, the extent of which we’ll probably only know one day when they’re teenagers).

CF kids can’t be bribed with screen time, they read before they break out in impressive song and dance with an impressive range of musical instruments. Mine get withdrawal symptoms when I limit them. I sometimes fear that Bailey really would die if she’s not allowed to watch baby dolls being bathed. Or that I would. On YouTube. For the 7 millionth time.

Yesterday morning I had to tell Kai to stop licking his sister’s bedroom window. That sounds so dirty, and yes it was. With three kids, washing windows is really low on the priority list. She was literally losing her mind over the window licking. She started hitting him, as one would when your window is being licked. This made him up his game, he ran around the house to the outside to lick the window from there (even more gross), where she could not touch him. CF kids would not do that.

On the way to school she got him back by copying every word he said. Until he whistled. She can’t whistle yet. Believe me, you don’t want to make this 4 year old girl angry in a car on the way to school. Think maze runner mixed with the fierce little dwarf in Game of Thrones. Captain Fantastic would be calm through all of this. Should he be in this situation with YOUR kids (because his kids would never do this, if they ever had a disagreement they could not solve, they’d probably be sent into the wild with just a hunting knife each).

The night before this morning was rough. Like I told a friend, had that night been person, it would have been a bully, with pimples and dirty fingernails. It was mean. It beat me up. I lost. Contrary to my expectations, CF kids all sleep in their own beds. They might not bath on a daily basis but they’re fit and super productive, they don’t sit around smoking weed all day. They read books about quantum physics. They question things. They think for themselves. They question things. They also only exist in small numbers, here and there, if at all.

My point is let it go because you are not Captain Fantastic. You’re a working mom (I include stay at home moms who don’t have a formal job at a company, they work harder than you). Let it go because your kids will turn out fine even if they go (way) over the recommended hour of screen time a day. They’ll be fine even though you have to shout/bribe/threaten to get them to dress, brush their teeth etc etc. But also, just let it go. Let them be a bit wild. Let them be a bit free. Since they can’t run naked through a forest all day, let them run naked through your house, over your couches and that carpet that you had cleaned yesterday and that was so impressively dirty that the carpet cleaner felt it necessary to make a video clip of all the crap that came out of it and then felt it necessary to send it to you. That carpet that smelled so good for one hour and now smells like processed meat mixed with wet dog. Let them.

Over a glass of wine with a good mate, I came to the conclusion that the only thing Captain Fantastic and I have in common is stubborn facial hair. And I’m ok with that.

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