It’s kind of funny, actually. Considering whatever image I portray of myself as a mother, to think that I am actually kind of strict. Well. I don’t think strict is the right word. Let me see if I can explain. A lot of times, I think parents focus on the wrong things. When I hear the boys talk about the things their friends are in trouble or grounded for, it kind of blows my mind, especially when I compare those things to the shit those same parents are allowing their kids to do.
We’ll start small. The school bus. You see, I was not allowed to ride the school bus when I was a kid. I did for 1st and 2nd grade maybe. But then I punched a boy in the face. And I got in trouble. But the thing is, I punched the boy in the face because he was picking on my sister….. and THAT is why I didn’t ride the school bus anymore. My mom just didn’t think it was worth it. You know? And as a mother myself, I don’t, either. If I did not homeschool, I would not let my kids ride the school bus. ‘Tis true. No, you cannot protect them from everything, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fucking try.
When I was a kid, I was not allowed to go to the county fairs, or any kind of traveling-slash-non-permanent fair things. Like, ever. Never. Not once. Nope. The rides weren’t safe. Not that the rides at any permanent establishment are 100% safe, but the theory, at least, is that they are safeER. But it wasn’t just that. Something about E. Coli, dark-haired men lurking in corners, money-sucking scam artists, and the fact that my Mom just felt like traveling/county fairs were shady operations all the way around.
Perhaps she read far too much Stephen King. Perhaps she was a single mother with only one pair of eyes on 3 little girls. Or perhaps, just perhaps, she was right. I chose to err on the latter. My kids have never been to a traveling/county fair.
I was never allowed to go to a lock-in as a kid. You know, where you stay somewhere overnight, the theory being that at some point, the doors are “locked” and its a big party? Even at church. But especially places like skating rinks and such. Nope. Never allowed. My kids aren’t either. Never have, never will. They don’t even bother asking.
Likewise for spending the night at kids’ houses when the kids’ parents are not home, even though my kids are 17 and 15. I didn’t even let my own kids stay home by themselves while I went to the grocery store until their ages were in the double digits. I know, right?
And don’t even get me started on mowing the grass. Holy shit. I still can’t get the images of severed limbs and chunks of flesh tangled in lawnmower blades out of my imagination. If it weren’t for their Dad, they still wouldn’t be allowed to mow the lawn.
Yet, after all that, most parents think I am just straight up lazy and weird. I don’t care if my kids cuss or flip birds. I really don’t. Not at all. They aren’t stupid. They know when those things are appropriate and when they aren’t. I don’t care about what they wear or how they cut their hair. I personally don’t have a problem with facial piercings, but Sarge balances me out on that one, and I do NOT question his judgment because there is a voice inside me that says he is probably right.
I’ve never really cared about how long they play video games, which I think Sarge wishes I did a little more. But I defend my laziness in that regard because he is not home during the day to see how much they choose to balance themselves when left to their own devices. I mean, c’mon. How can you bother putting rules on a 17-year-old who asks for a good pair of running shoes because “until my college classes start, and until I find a job, I really feel like I need more balance in my day.”
And when said running shoes are delivered, he actually uses them. And by that, I mean he starts running 4 miles a day…. sooo… you know, let me just say that allowing your kids to learn how to balance themselves for their own internal motivations is always far better than pushing your ideals onto them. Even if that means one kid goes through a phase where you’re pretty sure his brain has permanently melded with his PS3’s motherboard. *cough…andrewcough…ahem*
I’ve never really given two shits if my kids break something. It happens. Kinda like when they were in that phase when they were totally into riding a baby crib mattress down the stairs and would crash into the wall across from it. That’s what that goopy white shit and sandpaper is for.
I am a little more of a stickler than my mom was about keeping their rooms moderately sanitary. Good lawd… my room at their age…. could have easily been condemned… well, until boys started coming over. Holy crap, I just realized! My mom let me have boys in my bedroom!! Wow… I’d forgotten all about that…. yet it never occurred to me to do naughty things with them. I think that had more to do with having more boys as friends than girls.
Anyway. I’m babbling. Other parents confuse me. My kids’ friends get in trouble for things like breaking shit on accident. Saying ugly words. Not doing chores. Getting bad grades.
I just don’t understand any of those things. If they break shit on accident, well, they’re human. Adults break shit on accident. The problem lies where?
Ugly words. Well. I mean, how are they going to develop an innate sense of ineptitude if they don’t suffer real-world consequences? Grounded is just being…. grounded. Being shamed in public by strangers is… well.. humiliating. But more importantly, it’s REAL.
Not doing chores? Ummm…. okay…. If you want your kid to do something, you tell them to do it. If they don’t do it, logic says that perhaps you did not get your message across. The lesson does not lie with being grounded. The lesson lies with…. well…. actually doing the chore. That’s the goal, isn’t it?
I guarantee you a kid will start remembering to do what he is asked when he’s in the kitchen at midnight-thirty washing dishes because he forgot to do it earlier. Or when he wakes up in the morning to find a reeking bag of trash beside his bed because he forgot to take the trash out the night before…. knowing he’s lucky that his dad didn’t actually pour its contents onto his bed.
And lemme tell ya, kids HATE folding laundry when their friends are on the front porch waiting for them. Grounded? Mine have never been grounded for not doing a chore. Ever. Not once. And 97.82340% of the time, they do whatever chore is asked of them within plus or minus 34.765 minutes of being asked. Gimme a break, man.