Monday, November 27, 2006

Other People's Parenting

Back in my AOL days, there was a message board in the parenting area called "Other People's Parenting". It was a hoppin' board, full of snarkiness. I was a bit too busy (parenting!) to keep up with it regularly, but I'd sometimes head over there when I needed a bit of snarkiness.

One of my most-used lines, sometimes even a mantra, is "I did my best parenting before I had children." Because it's all too easy to look at someone's parenting (at the mall, in the park, at the grocery store, at church) and judge. Kids often pick the absolute worst times and places to fall apart. And it's hard to parent with an audience.

HOWEVER (you knew I couldn't be all understanding and sympathetic for a whole post, right?), there are things that we can do as parents, when our kids go completely bat$hit in public (or semi-public, even). Like lose the audience. Get away from the crowd. Go to the restroom with your toddler. Or to the car. Or the hallway. Somewhere that you can be a grown up and remind junior that, yes, indeed, you are an authority figure and are to be respected as such. (And if you can do all that without raising your voice or hitting anyone, even better!) (Because I'm not going to be impressed with your disciplinarian approach if you hit your kid in the aisle at Kroger.) (Especially if you hit the kid with your shoe.)

It's hard to watch people trying to reason with toddlers. It's hard to watch people make empty threats. There's a rule I try to follow (I'm not perfect, though). Don't say it if you're not going to do it. That goes for positive things and negative things. Don't tell the kids you're going to make smoothies and then not do it. (See, I'm not perfect. That was yesterday.) Don't tell them they have to clean their room or they don't get to go to the movies when you know good and well that the only thing that would prevent them from going to the movies would be an act of God or projectile vomiting (which is the opposite of an act of God...possibly even an argument for atheism). They'll test you. They'll find out if you're for real. And if you're not, they know that it's open for negotiation. And that? Is the path of destruction. Beware all ye who enter.

Did I mention that my darling son, The Boy, who often has difficult moments, was a perfect angel all Thanksgiving weekend? He played with his cousin (well, step-cousin, but that's just too many syllables) and had the greatest time. No testing at all. Even took a shower without arguing with me. Aunt S., feel free to send T. to our house whenever you want. You probably don't even need to call. He and The Boy are like peas and carrots and seem to bring out the best in each other. So that whole post I was going to write about The Boy and how he deals (or mostly does not) with peers? Maybe not so much. He really did great this weekend.

Susie, of course, was perfect. She's good at that. She entertained and corralled her younger cousins (ranging in age from three to five). She was patient. She was kind. She was tireless. I don't really know how I got such a child. She's really amazingly mature in those situations.

And The Husband was so good sticking to his diet and exercise program. His brown corduroy pants were tight in the spring and they were falling down yesterday. Progress.

And our Christmas lights are up. Yay.


lil bro said...

I don't think you "got" such a child, or children, I think, despite your whackiness, you have raised two great kids. Honestly I was doubtful when you first told me you were pregnant, but you've done a great job so far, and I think it's really improved you as a person, too. Not that you were a bad person before, just that it's, well, improved you.

And no, I'm not trying to suck up to get a better xmas present. Just trying to give you a long overdue compliment :D

Another Working Mom said...

Dude, if you want a pony I'd probably get you one at this point. I like to take at least partial credit for the kids' awesomeness. I *did* contribute 50% of the DNA plus raised them. And those kids should be darn grateful what with the cloth diapers and breastfeeding.