I’ve never professed to be the perfect mom. In fact I don’t even think she exists. Besides, who defines perfection as it relates to parenting children. Who cares if dinner wasn’t comprised of the four food groups each and every night? Who cares if bedtime wasn’t at precisely 8:00 each night? There is no magic parenting manual and for every parenting manual out there, I guarantee there is another that disputes much of the material contained in the first manual. In my mind if I raise well mannered, compassionate, thoughtful and respectful young adults then I will have done a good job.
I also don’t hold other parents to unrealistically high standards . Before I had kids and heard a screaming child in a store I couldn’t imagine why the parent wasn’t “controlling” the child. Now that I have kids of my own I know the reality of it is that kids do that. And while yes it is up to the parent to try and correct certain behaviors sometimes she just really needs that one thing, and there is no one to watch her child while she runs to the store. So I try and cut that mom some slack. Because I’ve been there.
But what I refuse to try and understand and cut slack for is rudeness in children. Specifically, children that are old enough to know better.
Friday evening, as I was helping my son learn how to inline skate one of the little neighborhood girls who’d been playing with my kids for some time looks at me and says
“You should exercise.”
A little taken aback but not knowing where this was going I answered her honestly and said “I try to when I can.”
My honesty was rewarded with “You should lose some weight, then you can be skinny just like me”. Mind you this little girl borders on unhealthily skinny but I thought two things 1) WTF and 2) as she went on about how skinny and wonderful she was, she is an eating disorder waiting to happen.
Sure I could stand to lose a few lbs. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that she actually uttered those rude, obnoxious comments. It took me a while to regain my composure. So I stood there for a moment silent.
Then I calmly asked this bold 9 year old “Eva, did anyone tell you that it’s rude to tell people they need to lose weight”
“No, I didn’t know” she replied.
“Well it is” I said and with that I told the twins it was time to go in. But of course I stewed on it. Several glasses of wine later and some ranting to my mom, my sister and my bff I was on the mend.
Then Saturday hit and we agreed to watch the son of a casual acquaintance. We’d initially been told it would only be for a couple of hours and when last, Jay, was over he was generally a well behaved child and the twins enjoyed playing with him.
Saturday,Jay was a terror.
On the way back from picking Jay up I asked hubby to stop by the store. Apparently Jay asked for everything. My husband, being the softie that he is, agreed to buy a six pack of yogurt drinks and even a toy for Jay (and B & J of course). When they arrived home Jay told me to tell my kids not to drink the yogurt drinks because he was taking them home. Then he proceeded to use up all the web “goo” in the Spiderman toy that hubby bought for B and wouldn’t give it back nor would he share the toy, that hubby bought him, with the twins.
He hogged the swing set- telling the twins they were not allowed to swing on it. When they were playing house he assigned the roles and told my daughter she could not play if she was not the mom. She wasn’t allowed to play the sister. He slammed doors in my children’s faces, took toys away from them, tried to pit them against one another, you name it he did it. Jay is 7.
Hubby and I both had to talk to Jay about good manners.
When his mom returned to pick him up, 6 hours later, she didn’t thank us or ask how Jay was. She grabbed him and pretty much took off.
Jay will not be returning.
Why was I forced to teach these children their behavior was not ok? Shouldn’t those basic teachings have come from the parent?
I teach my kids that good manners are important. I teach them that rudeness is not ok. I try and teach them that sharing and playing nice with others is fun.
No I am not the perfect parent and I don’t profess to be
But heed my advice - Teach your child basic courtesy, basic manners and respect.
Because if I have to parent your children, you may not like what they come home saying about you.