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Monday, October 24, 2011

Bad Parenting

I am a lousy mother. OK, that was a bit melodramatic. I'm not lousy, exactly. Just...inattentive. When you become a parent, a whole new world opens up for you. A world of wonder. A world of joy. A world of PARANOIA.

Oh, yes indeedy.

It starts when you're pregnant. Did you have a sip of champagne at that wedding? Oh my God, you're going to give birth to a mutated human skull attached to a set of flippers! Are you eating enough folic acid? Taking showers and not baths?

Once you have the kid, the paranoia gets worse, and everyone chimes in with their horror stories and one-upmanship. If I told a mom that my daughter slept 4 hours straight, she was either lapsing into a coma or hyperactive, compared to their child. My kids have been too small, too big, eating too much, eating not enough, too energetic, and not getting enough exercise. And it's all my fault.

It started with the first pregnancy. I missed my Diet Coke. Just a can, I said. One solitary can. Then I bought a two liter - it makes more sense, right? It'll take a week to finish it, and I'll save money. I finished it that day. The hell with them all. I was a better person with my Diet Coke fix, and surely, that had to be better for the baby. We don't want mommy in jail for putting a letter opener through her boss's aorta now, do we?

Oh, I could write a full dissertation on the madness I've ignored since the kidlings hatched. One day at the bus stop, we were all talking about kid's music and I mentioned that The Barenaked Ladies have a children's CD. One of the mothers literally put a hand to her heart as if she'd seen a bubonic-laden rodent tap dancing on her stroller and said:

"I can't imagine buying something with the word "naked" in it for my child."

I must confess, I, being a terrible, apathetic parent, do not give a rat's annointed arse if my child should hear the word "naked", particularly in the context of being the name of a performing group. I also don't care if my children are occasionally naked themselves, in proper context. I had a coworker who was at the beach once, and a neighboring family changed their little boy's diaper on their blanket. My coworker charged over, nostrils flaring and read them the riot act because they just showed her nine year old daughter her first penis! The horror!! My daughter sees penis all the time. She used to bathe with her little brother every night, and occasionally still jumps in the shower with him or with me or her Dad. Guess what she never stares at, or even remotely cares about?

I feel better just for having said the word.

I let my kids have soda sometimes. Usually, they drink Diet Coke, just like me. And sometimes, I'll have a parent at a neighboring table give me the stink eye as they order their little dumpling a big ole glass of sugary juice. My kids drink water most of the time, so I figure they're doing OK. I know, I'm a terrible, awful mother and I need to be dragged through a field of broken glass. I'll be sure to get around to that.

My daughter reads books above her grade level. Far above. Sometimes, they get a little scary, but she doesn't mind. According to her, that just makes the book good. If some uber-moms  knew we read Harry Potter before bed in kindergarten, their eyes would roll back in their heads. I do always keep the remote nearby when watching an unfamiliar TV show, or a more adult-themed show comes on, but that's the extent of my censorship.

My kids eat, bathe, sleep and do all the things kids should, and in a reasonable fashion. If I took just five seconds to worry about how every little thing I do is warping them, I wouldn't have any time in the day left to deliberately warp them. This is important to me. Did you know my kids occasionally fart and then shriek with laughter? Oh, and we have great burp contests. I let them play with toys all over the house. I've sometimes let them sleep in their favorite tee shirt instead of jammies, and on snow days they stay in fuzzy jammies all day long. If you're looking to lynch me over it, the line forms to the left.

I have a serious parental apathy problem. I just don't care much what other people think about my children's habits, so long as they're behaving themselves, for the most part, not destroying property or working on a criminal record, and they're treating others right. The other stuff is just peripheral nonsense to me, to be considered but not adhered to with a jihad-like fervor.

Please, if you should notice my children burping or farting while not noticing penises, kindly look the other way if it offends you. Remember, this kind of deviancy takes a lot of nurturing.

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