Friday, May 6, 2011
This morning I read an article by Andrew McGinn that made my day. Not only do I also hate all things Caillou, but I finally found someone else willing to admit to stepping outside of the "How to raise an emotionally healthy and mentally stable child" box that someone, somewhere decided exists.
I'll admit, when our oldest child Z was born, I had every intention to conform to that box. Not only would he never be permitted to watch shows that society deemed "violent" but this son of mine would never be permitted to play with toy guns, either. He would grow up to be a peaceful gentleman who treated his younger sisters with nothing but kindness and the utmost respect. From my lips to God's ears....
Three years after he was born, as I proudly wore my invisible "Self-Righteous-Mother-of-the-Year" award on my forehead for all to see, I was stunned to walk into our playroom to find that he'd lathered rubber cement all over his 1-year old sister's head and was holding her to the wall until she dried. Holy crap.
Not long after that, while I was giving them baths, this "gunless-full-of-peace-and-love-future-gentleman" of mine began making gun shooting noises while aiming his man-part around the bathroom. The next day we went to the dollar store and stocked up on plastic toy guns.
From that day forward we took a more relaxed approach to parenting. It didn't take us long to become "those" parents who people place bets on how soon their kids will need therapy.
When he was 5, his favorite movie was Con-Air. (It still is.) When he was 7 and I knew he was telling me a lie, I wrapped the computer mouse around his hand, told him it was a lie-detector, and then I made it beep every time he answered. When he was 8, we realized we didn't know where he was and found him dangling by his shirt on our privacy fence gate. When he was 9, I attempted to home-school him "for his own emotional protection from the bad influences of public school." One day we got a bill from our cable company. Z, who was a fan of Play Station and Game Boy thought he hit the jackpot and found a television station that combined the two.....Playboy. We sent him back to school.
Clearly, we'd screwed up with this "How to raise a stable child" philosophy.....or is it that very philosophy that is screwing us up? Suddenly we live in a society where every child has to receive a ribbon whether they actually win or not for fear of scarring their little hearts. We now live in a world where to discipline a child is to strip them of their rights. Suddenly, it's considered emotional abuse to set standards for your children and then expect them to follow through.
Good grief. I'll take our way, thank you very much. And the proof is in the young adults we're witnessing our children become. A is 15 and K is 11 and they're growing into the sweetest and most respectful young ladies you'd ever meet. Z, at 17, is charming, funny and extremely responsible. (Well, he did say "balls" during his National Honor Society speech and got put on probation, but whatever.) And did I mention they're all on the Honor Roll? (No thanks to me, I assure you.)
The jury's still out on C, who's 4, but we have high hopes. Granted, she's addicted to Laverne & Shirley reruns, wants to work at Shotz Brewery when she grows up, enjoys staying up till 3am, sleeping till noon everyday and she begins each day with a cup of coffee. So far so good, wouldn't you say?
So I'm going to enjoy a guilt-free Mother's Day because why shouldn't I? I'm imperfect, I screw up, I have regrets, I make questionable choices and there are many areas I could and should improve on. But, God has blessed me with 4 amazing children, who I love wholeheartedly and unconditionally and who are "emotionally healthy and mentally stable" despite my parenting techniques. Wheew!
Happy Mother's Day to all those moms who do their best and trust God for the rest!