Ok…I’ve been sitting here for over an hour trying to compose this lovely, touching post about the various kinds of parenting, and how each style affects how we, as a society, are raising our children. I’ve been trying to be insightful, sensitive, nonjudgmental, and open-minded.
I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted from trying to be tolerant. I’m exhausted from trying to be deep and philosophical. I’m totally exhausted from trying not to swear. But most of all, I’m exhausted because my kids won’t leave me the fuck alone.
My kids have been on summer break now for one month. As per previous years, this is about the time that I start going crazy.
The first month is ok. It’s nice to be off the routine: no lunches to pack, no homework to help with, no spelling words to learn, no phone calls from school telling me my son was caught surfing porn sites.
The kids are happy to be lounging around, watching tv, playing video games, inviting friends over.
But after about four weeks of this, everybody starts to get a little bored. Now the kids are looking for me to entertain them.
The problem is though, I don’t like entertaining them.
My mother once said, “I sure am glad I had my kids when I did. You “modern” mothers have your hands full.”
Never were truer words spoken.
When I was a kid, there was no such thing as your parent playing with you. My mother never read to me, coloured with me, made crafts with me, biked with me, watched cartoons with me, or talked to me. We did, however, bond every afternoon over “General Hospital.” Good enough.
This was a time when mothers were free to clean their houses, make the meals, and sit on the couch watching an hour or two of television without the incessant voice in the back of their minds telling them they really should check to make sure the kids weren’t swimming face down in the pool.
I try to be this kind of parent. I try really really hard. But it’s very difficult to accomplish this when the world is now filled with mothers who feel compelled to play with their kids. First of all, why do you have to play with them? Is that not why most of us have more than one child? So they can play together?
I have one friend who not only buys all the latest gadgets for her kids, but she’s out there playing with them. Is it not enough that they have a trampoline? You have to go out there and jump on it with them? They have a football. Why do you have to throw it? You’ve brought them to the waterpark. Why do you have to go down the slides with them? I’m not doing that. I don’t want to get my hair wet. Have you any idea what I look like without the benefit of a blow drier and a straightening iron?
I have another friend who is all about the memories. Memories. Memories. And more fucken memories. Easter egg decorating parties. Slumber parties. Extravagant playdates where she’ll actually drive the kids to the next town so they can walk on the boardwalk, buy souvenirs in the shops, eat the best soft ice cream in the world. You’ve already invited two extra kids over? Why do you have to now entertain the whole lot of them? Can’t they be left to run around in circles and make their own memories?
And at what point do we say: Now they have TOO MANY memories. How do they know what is a memory and what is a normal every day activity? How can they tell that having a slumber party is more special and therefore more worthy of the “memory” category than, let’s say, poop scooping. Ok. Obviously, there is a difference. But what if the parent is out there poop scooping with the kids, and makes a game out of it: who can find the most piles? The winner gets a trip to the next town for a walk on the boardwalk and soft ice cream! See what I mean? How easily the lines become blurred!
Now, if I’m going to be honest, as much as it pains me, the issue is not really society’s. The issue is mine. Clearly, I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to. But…BUT how long can I hold out when my kids come home from the extravagant playdates and the all-night slumber parties where the mother was right in there serving snow cones and grilled cheeses at 3am, and say, “How come you never do anything like that with us?”
How come? Because I’m a mean mean mother. Because I like my sleep. Because I don’t like Monopoly and therefore don’t feel the need to teach you how to play it. Because I like quiet and don’t feel the need to lecture you about the environment, good and evil, and the significance of the first African-American president.
And now, because of these other mothers, my kids will also grow up with memories. Memories of a mother who sat around on her deck chair all summer, devouring Stephanie Meyer novels and fastforwarding through the DVDs to all of the Edward scenes, instead of playing hide-and-go-seek and tag with them.
So “modern” mothers. Thanks. Thanks for nothing.
~this is me sticking my tongue out at you~