Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Defense of The Bad Gal

I eavesdropped on an interesting conversation last night.

As I was taking some boxes to the recycling bin, I could hear Graham chatting with a couple of neighbor boys as he told them he couldn't play any more last night.

"Yeah, we've got to have some family time."
"Your Mom never lets you and Cael play!  You need 'friend' time, not family time."
"I know.  It's always family time."

My first instinct was to run out to the driveway and defend my parental position on this one, but I decided to respect Graham's privacy and go back in the house while I reevaluated every decision I've made for the last 2-3 months.

And in the end, I decided that I'm still right.  Sorry, boys.

With the exception of an affinity for new technology and my unwillingness to get a bob haircut, Joel and I are pretty traditional and old-fashioned in our parenting beliefs.  I drive a mini-van, for goodness sake.  But as time goes by, I realize more and more than our style doesn't align with that of many parents in our generation.

After school, my boys are free to play with the exception of a couple of days when I have their day care friends over, and feel it would be disrespectful for them both to leave.  But Thursday or Friday (or any day after 4:45pm, send your kid on over.  The Foreman boys are ready to play.

That invitation doesn't extend forever, though.  At some point we will eat dinner, and that usually signals the end of (neighborhood) play time.  After dinner we do homework, we clean up, and we take showers.

**Please note that I am using the royal "we" here, as my children seem to have developed a phobia and/or life-threatening allergy about cleaning their bodies.  Thus far, no one has succumbed to anaphylactic shock, but studies are ongoing.**

If there is time left over, we spend it together.  We read a book, we play Old Maid, we sit together on the couch and I pretend to care about the score of a baseball game.  But not every minute or even every day is for friends.  That's what the weekend is for.

This issue, more than any other, has made me the bad guy... or gal.

There are so many others, though.  I've had to establish a firmer stance as a mother than I ever expected because these boys are more stubborn and unyielding than a brick wall, and I've learned that the only defense against masonry is more structure.

If you make a mess, you clean it up.  I don't expect perfection, but cleaning up your Legos is not properly achieved by cramming them all into a dirty sock and then jamming said sock into your dirty clothes basket.  When 647 loose Legos explode inside my dryer, I will not dance beneath them as though they were confetti on New Year's Eve.

If I tell you to do something, you do it.  Not later and not partially.  If you try to pull a fast one over on me, you may discover that the trip to Dairy Queen we planned ends up happening later... or maybe I'll just fill up a Dairy Queen cup with some greek yogurt from the fridge.

Use your best judgment.  If I got angry about you showing your friends one of my bras, I probably won't respond well to a fashion show of my various pairs of underwear.

If I cook you a meal and your first words upon seeing asparagus are "you've got to be kidding me!", you won't get to eat.  Someday, God willing, another family might invite you to eat with them, and I don't want you to respond to liver and onions as if they were, well, liver and onions.  Be respectful.  Plus, the rest of us are sick of green beans.

If you hit your brother and he hits you back, don't come crying to me.  Work out your problems with each other.  Someday I will be dead and he will be the only other person on the planet with whom you can commiserate about that time Mom wouldn't let you play outside after dinner.

For the love of God, calm down.  When you come home from school and explode with unrestrained energy, I find myself huddling fearfully in the middle of a tornado of light sabers and farts.  No one deserves that, especially the woman that actively chose a belly of stretch marks in order to have you around.  If you must, do it outside.

Do not mix the Play-Doh colors.  This is non-negotiable.

If you ask me a question, don't fight with me about the answer.  I may not be a lawyer or an astrophysicist, but I'm a smart gal and I know a few things.  If I don't know an answer, I know how to help you find one.

If you misbehave when friends are over, I will send them home.  If your friends misbehave when they are over, I might send them home too.  It depends on the kid.  Are their parents bad guys, too?

There are a lot of new-age parenting ideas floating around out there, and while I don't agree with a lot of them, I don't begrudge a parent their right to raise their own children in whatever way they feel is best.  But if your son or daughter complains that the Foreman boys are never allowed out of the house, please set them straight.

Then serve them some asparagus.  We all need to be the bad gal sometimes.

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.