Wednesday, May 30, 2007

By The Time I Get This Parenting Thing Right, I Won't Have Any Kids Left

I'm beginning to wonder if the middle of the road is getting any traffic from parents these days. Is everything in extremes, or is it just me?To be fair, I think if I thought hard enough I could come up with a lot of parents who take a moderate and balanced approach to parenting, but they aren't the ones who pop out at me, or show up at playgroups or school events or my home and make me want to write about them on my blog. So to the Barack Obamas of parenting, hats off, but I'm not going there today.The other day another mom and I were giving the "five minute warning" to our kids to stop playing and wrap things up. One of the kids wanted to keep the bug they had found, and my son was in a tizzy because he wanted that bug. I looked at him and told him, "For goodness sake, Jacob, there are thousands of these bugs in our back field. Just let him take the bug." I looked back at my friend to resume talking, when I felt something sharp and stinging against my leg. Jacob had just slapped me in anger.Without even really thinking about it, I grabbed his hand, got down on his level and slapped the top of his hand. Hard. Should I have a moment of silence for those of you who have passed out on the floor to collect yourselves and get the number to CPS? After I had beaten my son's hand with the flat of my own, I held on and looked him in the eye and in my meanest voice told him to never, ever hit anyone, most especially the woman who put him on this earth. While this all played out, my friend gasped. In horror. She was clearly pretty upset that I had done that, and looked away from my little discussion with Jacob, obviously wanting the whole thing to be done.But you see, I just want my kids to grow up to be considerate people. I do not want to send four assholes into the world who think the planet revolves around them and that the rules just don't apply to them, or that mommy and daddy will fix things for them if they do happen to apply. And believe me, I have days where I wonder if I'm going to succeed. I'm scarily inconsistent, but I do have an end-game in mind that stays the same.It got me thinking about all the kids I know who interrupt their parents, who get to run around the house as late as they please on a school night (and the parents "just can't get them down, so what do you do?"), the kids who eat food at your house and spit it out and tell you it's horrible. The kids who rip open gifts at birthday parties and either toss them aside for the next one, or, and I've seen this one a few times, announce they either have that particular gift or don't like it and then toss it.I've noticed this a lot more since leaving the Air Force. There are no rich kids on an Air Base (well, maybe, but their house looks like everybody elses), or over-privileged kids who just aren't appreciating the fact that mommy or daddy maxed out their credit card to get them everything on their list. I've encountered parents who "don't say no" to their kids, or who have "no rules" because childhood should be happy.Why? What is going on? This isn't rhetorical. Am I just hyper-sensitive to this lately? Am I a total bitch who should relax with my own kids? Have any of you noticed things like this? What do you think? Is spanking (or swatting the hand) ever okay anymore? Can you really reason with a preschooler? Should you?It's driving me nuts.

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