Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Can See You're Busy, But Who Would Win in a Zombie vs. Pirate Fight?

"I want a bike, and a monkey, and a friend for the monkey..."

Kids are dumb.

I don't say that to be mean, it's just true.  If you put a young child in a room with everything she needs to survive (canned food, a can opener, a bottle of water, etc) then closed the door for a few days, you'd come back to a dirty, hungry, dehydrated little mess.

As a parent, you have to teach them almost everything (save for breathing, and maybe chewing and swallowing).  Even something as simple and automatic as moving your feet out of the way when someone is vacuuming is beyond a young child.  Even the cat can figure that one out without being told seven million times!

As a reasonable adult there are just certain things that you expect people to know.  Don't put macaroni noodles up your nose.  Don't push your little sister out of a seat simply because you want to sit there.  Yes, you do have to bathe at least once a week.  No, you definitely can't try the dog food even if Koda really seems to be enjoying it.

And then there's the fear.  The fear that every, single parenting decision you make is somehow wrong and paving the road to future therapy sessions in which your offspring rail against you and how you've ruined any chance they have at happiness in their career/relationships/life.  Even writing about it now makes my stomach churn a little.  Are we too strict, or too permissive?  Do we feed them well (lord knows what constitutes a nutritious diet these days), or are they poster children for malnutrition?  Do we pay too little attention to their education, or do we get so involved that they aren't even making their own model solar systems anymore (for what it's worth, my Saturn is pretty lifelike)? 

But, sometimes the thing I fear most is making time for myself.  Am I a bad mother because I leave them with their dad while I go to the gym for an hour when I could be at home reading a book or coloring a picture?  Am I neglectful because I ask them to hold on to their questions about who would win in a zombie vs. pirate battle royale until after I finish the chapter I’m working on?

Ugh, no organic, eco-friendly, locally sourced toys?  I bet these aren't even BPA free...
To add to the fun, while I’m stressing about all that, I also have to worry about the people—parents and non-parents alike—who are probably judging my every action (or nonaction), and thinking about how they’d “do it better” in my situation.  Because, let me tell you, everyone has an opinion.  I've been warned against being too distant lest I create an attention-starved adult who craves the love and approval of everyone (and will make bad choices in order to get that attention).  I've been advised to avoid being a "helicopter parent" who fosters a sense of intense dependency and ends up with adult children who have no ability to care for themselves.  Truth is, though, there's no right answer.  I’m going to screw my kids up in one way or another, at least a little, so I might as well stop worrying about it.  That's not to say I plan to stop trying to be the best parent I can be, but rather that I’ll stop trying to be a perfect parent.  It’s not going to happen, so why not relax, enjoy my kids, and hope they're still speaking to me when the smoke finally clears?

Also, once in awhile I’m going to read a book without pictures....if my kids will let me. 


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