don't freak out jerry

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.


Blue944 said...

Oh my God...Took 7 tries and 10 minutes for the comments box to come up. That is probably why you get 90 hits and 10 comments. Please get haloscan.

Now that I am here, I wanted to say that I generally try to avoid conversations around parenting skills. Although I am a parent, I was more of a long distant parent. This creates different challenges other than the day to day challenge that is parenthood.

I completely agree that the overall perception of how someone should parent their children seems to have drastically change since I was a kid. My parents used to send us outside and tell us to come back when it gets dark. We used to ride our bikes all over town, use them to jump over the Grand Canyon for fun and we never knew what safety equipment was. We coddle the kids nowadays. Make the parents afraid and get them to buy shit.

I said this on TG site as well...bad parents are generally oblivious to the fact that they are bad parents...questioning whether you are a bad parent probably means that you are a good parent.

Sorry about the long comment, but who knows when I will get through again.

Greg said...

Sex you an excellent parents and I know this. I don't have to give my reasons. Your kids will grow up to be sucessful free thinking individuals, they won't hate you when they turn 13, and they will attract alot of members from the opposite sex, unless you don't want them to.

There's my premonitions.

jake said...

being a parent scares me to death...seriously I'd consider suicide. you that are parents are amazing people. love makes all the difference. I sincerely believe that no matter how you act as a parent, if you truly love your child they will know it and respect you for it. even when you feel like a jerk or a bad parent, the love makes up the difference.

That Girl said...

I have tried to comment on your site for 24 hours now! I typed a longreply last night and don't remember anything I said. It was something like, "My mom used to take me to bars with her and now I wish I could get away with it. It's thoughts like that that make me question the good mom thing. I guess it's like thoughts of the Fed Ex guy when you're married. Just thoughts." That's actually not what I said, but it'll do.

I hope Blogger isn't jerking off this weekend too.

T Kwong said...

Incerased safety is not a bad thing. While a significant number of safety advocates go crazy (booster seats until 9? Fuck off) a little too much, seatbelts, helmets, guardrails, sand instead of concrete under your monkey bars, etc. aren't entirely bad things. I think you're more complaining about the crazy over protectiveness that society is grabbing on to.

Sorry, blue, but you're line about, "... we never knew what safety equipment was," is horseshit. We didn't know about a lot of things even twenty years ago, doesn't mean it was good for you then or now. I agree that you should be able to send kids to run around until dark, it's not exaclty the most realistic in some non-suburban haven. You can still do it in a lot of places, but for most people it's nothing but a funny idea. Sorry if I'm coming off as way too hostile, but this is the, "good ol days," shit I can't stand.

Sex, I'm sure that you're kids will turn out fine. I may not agree with your profanity rules, but that's another reason I'm not having kids.


sex scenes at starbucks said...

blue944 - Why 944? but anyway, I'm not trying to be defensive here, but my hit count has little to do with the commentbox issue. My hits are way down lately in fact. Thank you blogger. (that and because I'm editing my book instead of posting as much)

"questioning whether you are a bad parent probably means that you are a good parent"

in my considerable experience with said questioning, I've found it generaly means that they are trying to get someone to tell them that what they are doing wrong is actually ok. Generally, it's some petty thing that means little anyway, but they are looking for some sort of external justification. I think this is largely a bullshit reason to do anything.

Jake - I can tell by reading you that you're a thinking, feeling individual with great taste in truck names. You'll be a fine parent, and when it happens you'll find out that the immediate fear goes away but that there is a deeper, ingrained fear that will never leave you. And once you see that little face, you'll realize you'd never have it any other way. When you've got a kid it's hard to remember life without them. Remarkable and ordinary all at once.

Greg - i sure hope we're doing a decent job. My greatest hope is that they don't grow up and hate me. I think a healthy dose of hate now may save us from that. Thanks for the pep talk though.

TG - we take our kids to bars. I really believe in that sort of thing because hopefully then drinking will be no big deal, moderation and safe habits and all that. At least, that's the way it was for me growing up. (see next post).

Tommalicious - you don't agree with my profanity rules? As in I should let them swear? Or should I not swear in front of them?

I should clarify that I don't use cuss words as anything besides expletives in front of them, as in "damn, that guy nearly hit me!' I don't use them as verbs or adjectives or anything like that. With kids it's like letting them eat junk food instead of carrots. They've got a lot of years to talk shit, but not on my watch.

Vir.ti.go said...

I'm one of "those" parents that let their kids watch the DVD on the way to the store. However, it is educational. Mr C already knows and recognises his alphabet and he just turned 2 in Jan.
I also can't quite get around to teaching my kids to not interrupt. I figure they get enough swats for other stuff.
For the most part they are friendly, good natured, mindful kids, who will hate me when they turn 13 because that is what 13 yr olds do.
You and PHF are doing a good job and your kids love and respect you. This is from someone who knows.