My mom called this morning.
She had a story.
My mom took my nephew to this child “fantasy land” thing where there are all sorts of slides and playhouses in this huge open space for little kids to play in.
If you have any small children in your life – your own or those of relatives – you probably know what these things are.
So anyhoo, my mom and Mayor Nolan go there.
And surprisingly, Mayor Nolan jumps right in, running around, going in the play houses, and going down the big slides.
So while waiting for the little Mayor to come down a slide, my mom – standing at the bottom – notices this 4-year-old lining up blocks at the bottom of the slide.
Not like foam blocks – but plastic ones. Ones that, if a child slides into them, could be hurtful.
So my mom says, “Little boy, what are you doing?”
Little boy says, “I’m setting a trap.”
(Side note – anyone else find it disturbing that this toddler is planning to intentionally harm other children?)
My mom, flabbergasted, says, “But the kids are going to get hurt. I think you need to move those blocks.”
And the young blond hair child looks up at my 62-year-old mother, and says, “You don’t want to make me mad, do you?”
(Let’s pause here and just absorb that statement. And remind ourselves it came from the mouth of a 4-year-old.)
My mother responds, “Where’s your mother?”
Young boy responds, “At work.”
My mom says, “Who’s here with you?”
He says (perhaps not surprisingly), “My babysitter.”
So my mom took the blocks away from the bottom of the slide so that the other kids can come down and not get hurt.
And the child looks back up at my mom and says, “You can’t do that to me.”
And my mom?
She says, “Watch me.” And she throws the blocks behind the slide.
And all the little kids start to slide down the slide, unharmed, while the little boy goes to hide behind a pole and cry until a parent walks up and asks what’s wrong. He keeps crying and points at my mom.
End of story.
Now, if you’ve hung with me this far, and your dropping jaw didn’t close the blog screen, hang just a step further.
Let’s throw this scene back to, say, oh…circa 1980. Now, picture a Lil’ Meggy (like, put my big ass head on a smaller body in homemade clothes).
If those words flew out of my 4-year-old mouth, you can bet your Big Wheels that my mother would taken my toddler ass right home. And then once at home, my smart mouth would have gotten a bar full of the Dial soap.
Now, I’m not condoning Soaping a child – My point is, my mom wouldn’t put up with that shit. She would be APPALLED if her daughter got lippy with another adult. And she MOST CERTAINLY wouldn’t try to put the other adult in her place, ESPECIALLY if I was the one in the wrong.
But somewhere over the last 30 years, this became okay. It became okay to treat children like adults, and let THEM parent US. Let them make the “adult” decisions, give them the “adult” say. They tell us what they want, and we jump and say, “how much?”
I mean, fuck the rules, the structure, the limits, and (gasp!) the consequences.
And all under the excuse of “But we don’t want to stifle Lil’ Jimmy’s self-expression! We need to let him be who he wants to be!”
These children are allowed to grow up too quick – and now look at us. Surrounded by “adult” children and their “adult” viewpoints. Their “adult” sexual behaviors and their “adult” substance use. I find it near impossible to not choke out the parents that let their children drink and have sex in their homes, “because at least we know where they are and that they’re safe.”
And then we look around dumbfounded at each other when they start having children at age 12, like, “Well how did this happen?”
I feel like I always have to qualify these statements with, “Well now, I know I don’t have kids myself but…” But fuck that. I work with parents day in and out. I can understand and empathize about how hard it is to parent. And in this day and age - man – it’s HARD.
Maybe that’s part of the reason we shouldn’t really encourage or glorify childbirth for teenager, no? Just a thought.
But what it ultimately boils down to is lazy or frightened parenting. Parents too afraid or too lazy to set limits and follow through with consequences.
No one wants to be the bad guy these days – parents all want to be their kids’ best friends.
But that's not your job.
Your kid throws a desk at a teacher? Ground ‘em. Take away the Xbox, and then build on the privledge loss from there.
But my favorite is when you tell people that, they look at you like you have a big nasty booger stuck to your cheek.
And say, “But if he doesn’t have his video games, what are we supposed to do with him?”
Uh, how about talk? Interact? Or maybe just let his ass sit in his room and think about how sucky it is that he has nothing to do and maybe next time he shouldn’t throw a desk at his teachers.
I know this sounds like I am beating a dead horse, given yesterday’s post on parenting. But I see this more as another example of what appears to be an epidemic in this country in regards to parenting, or gross lack thereof. I mean, the kid in my mom's story learned this somewhere. Who is setting this example for him? If he has the balls to tell my mother – an elder – off in a public place, what the hell is this kid saying to his OWN parents?
Okay - that's two days of ranting. I'll try to shot some rainbows and puppies out of my ass for the next post.
But don't hold your breath.