Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Worst Parent in the World

The Stiletto Gang is thrilled to welcome friend Joelle Charbonneau today!

Are you the perfect parent? Not me!

I am the worst parent in the world. Okay, maybe that’s overstating. I mean, I’ve only been parenting for a mere three years. There are lots of folks out there who have been doing this for a lot longer, which means they have had more opportunities to screw things up. Right?

My son is three. He’s my first and after the scares he’s given me he might be my last. Like any parent, I try to keep him safe. The thing is, my best efforts to be a responsible parent seem to end in tragedy. Kind of like the time I took him to the park and he wanted to go on the big slide. He was a large nineteen-month-old, but the really big slide looked – well, really big. It seemed irresponsible of me to let him go down alone. I mean, what parent would let their kid go down a really big slide all alone when they were only 19 months? He could fall off or worse. So, I did the only responsible, safe thing I could think of – I went down the slide with him.

And he broke his leg.

No, I didn’t fall on him, although in retrospect that would have made far more sense than what did happen. My son squealed with delight, kicked his left foot out and caught the edge of the slide for just a moment – long enough for him to twist it perfectly and cause a tiny break. All because of my desire to have perfect parenting skills.

Just yesterday when he did as I insisted and went to pick up one of his toys he tripped and fell into the corner of the coffee table. Now he looks like a boxer ready to take on the next contender. Yep, despite my best efforts I seem to be doing everything wrong.

Or am I?

I admit that I have started to look for guidance for my parenting life in my publishing journey. The first four manuscripts I wrote I did with careful consideration for the subject matter and the tone. I tried to do them perfectly. None of them sold. In fact, despite my best “parenting” of those they weren’t and still aren’t publishable. However, the fifth book I wrote I did without worrying about being perfect or even selling. I sat down at the keyboard, let my goofiest ideas take over and had a blast. I wrote for myself and forgot about the need to be perfect. That book, as wild and wacky as it was, sold.

So, I guess I’m working on learning how to stop trying to be the perfect parent, but I need help. If you have any tricks you’d like to share about how to survive the parenting experience, please do! I have a lot to learn, but the one thing I know is that like my books, the kid is going to have some rough patches and he’s going to have some fabulous moments and I hope that when I go back and look at my whole parenting story I will find that my son and I both enjoyed the ride.

Joelle Charbonneau has performed in a variety of operas, musical theatre and children's theatre productions across the Chicagoland area. While Joelle is happy to perform for an audience, she is equally delighted to teach private voice lessons and use her stage experience to create compelling characters in her mysteries. The first of the Rebecca Robbins mysteries, SKATING AROUND THE LAW (Minotaur Books) was called “Sexy and funny” by Kirkus Reviews. The second book in the series, SKATING OVER THE LINE, will hit shelves on Sept. 27th, 2011.


  1. My best worst parenting tip is to ignore your child. Really. I do not believe it is my responsibly to entertain my child 24/7/365. I ignore my child regularly, and he has developed the ability to entertain himself. Occasionally by removing the drapes and tying them around the dog, but still. He's self-entertaining!

  2. Things happen with kids. Don't blame yourself. #5 had to be taken to the emergency room on the average of every 4 months, this was from the time he was a baby and all through high school. Always something different from sickness to accidents.


  3. Worst parent? Try this: every time my poor boy got a tummy ache I would give him Pepto-Bismol to try to soothe it. I wouldn't recall that he had an adverse reaction to it until he was vomiting it back up EVERY TIME. I swear, he was twelve before I just stopped buying it, poor kid.

    Also, I do not remember his friends names, his phone number, or his preference for spinach over brussels sprouts, but who cares about all that as long as his college registrations get paid up on time! Enjoy your boy and don't parent him to death. He'll be fine.

  4. This business about not having anymore due to the scares is a hoot to me. We were older parents, in fact I was a Geriatric Prima Gravidas (whee!), when our first was born. We were a bit overzealous. When number two came along as a surprise, and we had two to keep track of things eased off in a hurry. With him- I catch him doing things and simply say, "Okay fine. Don't break your head." With our first now- she flips out over minor injuries, and I catch myself repeating my dad- "Is it bleeding? Do you need to go to the doctor? Should we take you to the hospital?" She giggles, and it's over.

    The bruises on the heads are a given right now. Relax. Better yet, go outside and bruise yourself while playing hard. It's good for the soul.

    And remember, at least he's not eating bleach.

  5. As the others said, bumps and bruises are part of the trip. The important thing is that you all enjoy life, instead of planning every minute. Given your post, I'm going to check out your book. I'm a newcomer to this blog.

  6. Joelle, thanks so much for being part of the Gang today! Love your post, even though I'm not a parent (well, we have three kids with fur coats and four feet!). I would be freaking out, too, so I sympathize. I can definitely say that I'm a perfectionist with my books, but good things do happen when you let loose. I'm having the most fun and greatest challenge with my latest (trying to finish up revisions now!), and it's something I might not have even tried except for saying, "Should I go for it? What the heck!" And my editor and agents went, "Woo hoo!"

  7. Sarah - you made me choke on my water I was laughing so hard:)

    Marilyn - So far we've only had one hospital visit, so I guess I'm going to count myself lucky.

    Beki - thus far I know all of my son's friends' names, but he's only three so that means I only have to remember two or three. Try me in a couple of years.

    Julie - Okay - I'm using "At least he's not eating bleach" as my new mantra.

    lil Gluckstern - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you like the book. Please let me know if you do!

    Susan - thanks for having me here. It sounds like our editors and agents would get along great. And I am amazed at how much more fun I have writing when I say "What the heck."