My buddy and fellow mom, TG, is agonizing over her parenting again. It's a tough thing to be a parent, no lie. My favorite thing is when somebody who's not a parent comments. You can tell that these people are completely convinced that their child will be idiosyncrasy-free. Some of them even work with kids, often special needs kids; and this experience slants their opinions just a tad. Not that I don’t agree with them – I do! But people who aren’t parents becoming sudden experts in parenting - Hold your ground! Be the parent! Who's in charge? they cry with unindoctrinated fervor.
Ha! I say to them. There's a special circle of Hell reserved just for them, and it's called "Dinnertime With The Child Who Will Not Eat."
This show runs nightly and twice on Saturdays.
I just had a several paragraphs here on bad parenting. You know, shit that parents do that really irritates me? Like letting them watch dvds in the car when they're driving five minutes to the store; that sort of thing. Wouldn't want to force junior to notice that there's a world out there, would ya? Then I looked at it and realized that it not only sucked, but much of it reeked of the pot calling the kettle black (not with the car-dvd thing, though). So I thought again and came up with the one single thing about parenting that irritates me the most.
The one single thing that pisses me off is when parents don't realize that there are separate sets of rules for kids and grups. As in, grups get alcohol. Kids don't. Grups get to drive. Kids don't. Grups get to cuss a penalty-free blue-streak when something goes wrong. Kids get whupped if they talk like that. I figure they've got years ahead of them to turn into lazy, fat, shit-talking assholes, like we all are. But in the meantime, under my roof - you are gonna be a freakin' Mother Theresa, you hear me?? I cuss a lot. It's pretty bad. But if my kids ever try it, I say, "Uh uh, you don't. That's grown-up words." They accept it pretty readily. I think it's a relief for kids to know that there are separate rule books. They don't want what we've got. They can't take it. Getting in trouble just means they need more "handling."
What was my point in all this? Reading, reading... Dadadada...TG... Oh yeah, the questioning of oneself as a parent.
The self-questioning that goes on pisses me off too. (TG, I'm not attacking you here - keep reading.) Am I doing it right? Should I be harder on them? Should I be easier? Is this the right preschool? Should I let him eat what he wants? When he wants? What if he won't eat? What about profanity? PG movies for seven-year olds ok? No? Eight year olds? No tv? Some tv? How about music with profanity? Ok, just two cuss words on the album?
We live in this fucked up society of expert perfectionists who have made shit so friggin' difficult. Your kid's rude to you? It means he's got some psychological issues. You spank your kid at Target because he's being an asshole? People look at you, and if you're really lucky, someone will come over and "speak" to you. Don't forget your helmet to ride your bike - you know, the two foot tall bike with training wheels? Yup. Even on your driveway.
Come on, I've even been hit by a car on my bike and I didn't hit my head. (If you have a hit-your-head-on-a-bike story, save it. You're a minority, no matter what the ER docs say. Their experience is as slanted as the teacher who works with inner city gangsta kids.) Should I volunteer at school? Will it hurt my other kids if I don't spend that time with them? Do I need to keep an eye on things at school? Am I bad parent if I just don't wanna?
You should have seen the Lad's teacher when I went in to talk to her about some kid teasing him. She was nervous about the whole thing, and mostly nervous about how I was going to react. It became this weird triple negative that I had to battle before I got my point across (if I ever really did). It went something like this:
-Me telling her that this kid is teasing my kid at school.
-Teacher assuring me she's taking it VERY seriously. (Don't freak out, Jerry.)
-Me assuring her that while I know that kids are kids, yeah, I want it looked at.
-Teacher telling story about pissed off parent from the last "incident" like this. hey had to call other parents, the principal... she's testing me here. (Don't freak out, Jerry. You're not freaking out, are you?)
-Me assuring her that I'm not like that parent, I just want my kid to be happy at school.
-Teacher seeming to get nearly complacent about the whole thing. She's not going to get ripped a new one. I'm not a bitch. I'm not going to hassle her. She can blow me off.
-Me suddenly feeling like I'm not going to get this solved without getting really bitchy. (I'm freakin' out! Me, Jerry Seinfeld, is freakin' out!)
Obnoxious parents have made teachers so gun-shy that it's become hard to be just... normal. Balanced. Polite, courteous, and assertive without being an asshole.
I don't question myself much when it comes to parenting. Oh, yeah, I've got my moments, but in general, I'm the mom = I know best. At least, that's what my mother always said to me. "I'm the mom. I know best."
Stands to reason that as the mom, I know best now.
But then, late at night, I do sometimes question whether I question myself enough.