- Family and Parenting
Confessions and advice from a crazy mom
Parenting can be the most demanding yet the most rewarding job that you will ever have. There is so much to worry about and so many differing opinions on what constitutes being a good parent. There are so many schools of thought on that, along with books. I love to read but I often found parenting books to be dull reading and full of lofty advice that was either obvious common sense or just not my style. So what is my style?
Well, my ex-husband was pretty sure that Child Protective Services or the local loony bin would be coming by our house one day because of the kind of mother I was. He told me that it simply was not normal for a grown woman to be chasing children, brandishing a giant wood spoon or the matching giant wood fork. He wondered why I just couldn't be like the other mothers who cooked,cleaned and maintained some semblance of dignity, rather than a grown woman who was always in the midst of the kid’s game, more of a ring leader than a role model.
My son is an only child and is now a grown man. When I was a child, I planned on having oodles of kids but as I grew up, reality set in and my son became my one and only. I worked as a teacher, was surrounded by kids all day, and at home I was practically raising my neglectful neighbor's son, who was the same age as my son. So there was no shortage of children in my life. I didn't feel compelled to give birth to kids to have children in my life, there are plenty of kids already on this earth that I cared for, who filled my world.
There was no lack of children in our house either, my house was often packed with kids of all ages because I was the type of mom who like kids and let them do crazy things. Put bubbles in the Jacuzzi tub? Sure, why not? It was funny watching the kids in the tub as the bubbles got higher and higher, eventually getting higher than their heads. Getting rid of those bubbles wasn't quite as simple though. We heard my husband coming home and we frantically scooped tons of bubbles out the window so we wouldn't have to hear his speech about just what the hell were we up to this time. But in his defense, we were always up to something.
Our antics did drive my hubby crazy at times. He claimed I was worse than the kids. He noted that the house may as well have been made of gingerbread because of the way it attracted kids. The kids always knew that the sound of his truck pulling into the driveway was their cue to flee out the back door.
The kids and I loved hunting season because it meant my hubby would be gone for the weekend, and we would have the full run of the house for 3 blissful days. I personally packed his clothes and hunting gear so he had everything and would have no reason to come home early because he forgot something. I would kiss him goodbye on a Friday evening, give the all clear signal to the kids and we would pile in my car for our trip to the mall to stock up on video games, movies, food and bags of candy from our favorite store that sold all types of assorted candy by the pound. Let the games begin!
We would return home and the marathon slumber party would kick into action. There wasn't a whole lot of slumbering going on though. We stayed up till way past midnight, snacking laughing, watching TV, playing games with our own set of rules and simply having a blast, no matter what we did. Most parents would say just say "No, why would you want to do that?" when asked by their kids for permission to do something. I was more like the "sure, why not, sounds like fun".
One game we invented (that lasted all summer) was to take my son's huge tote of Lego pieces (over 50 pounds of them), dump them out on a quilt, and dive in, scavenging for the best pieces. We would each create a "shop" that featured the rarer and more coveted pieces that were bartered and traded for. We spent hours and days building our shops. My shop was hit by Lego looters more than once and pieces disappeared and mysteriously showed up in the boy’s shops. We played our Lego game till late at night and on one memorable occasion one of the boys fell asleep on one of the Lego plates and awoke the next morning with hundreds of little Lego dots imprinted on his face.
Pokemon was the big craze back then and we often went to the card shops to buy and trade cards. We also went to garage sales and visited thrift shops where I loved to buy books and items for my class. One of our greatest finds was a huge wooden spoon and fork set, the kind that were popular in the 70's as wall decorations. We paid 5 cents for them and they became the focus of a game we called red butt smack down. The possessor of the giant spoon would sneak up on the victim and smack them on the butt and then run like heck. Then they would hide the spoon until the next attack but often the spoon was found by someone else who then got possession of the spoon and so it went for days. The fork could be used to do the "poke of annoyance". It was simply using the fork to gently poke someone with it over and over in the most annoying manner possible. Incredibly stupid games? Yes! But absolutely amusing as heck to us.
But stupid games were our specialty. We amused ourselves for an entire weekend with a batch of biscuits that were left in the over overnight and turned into hockey pucks. The boys laughed and mocked my notorious lack of cooking skills and so I proceeded to do the mature thing and hurled the biscuits at them. From there the war was on as we ran around the house bombarding each other with the biscuits. The boys still reminisce about the great biscuit war of 1999 and a million other goofy things we did.
Our annual Easter tradition was not hunting eggs. Instead, I would fill hundreds of water balloons for the kids to have fun with along with water guns and all types of water toys. I was happy to fill the hundreds of water balloons for them but I had a rule that they were not to throw them at me unless I was actively in the game. Oh, but there was always at least one foolish child who couldn't resist but I was ready to deal with that. Little did the kids know but I had a crisper drawer full of water balloon that i stashed in the refrigerator. There is nothing like the look on a child's face when they are hit with an ice cold water balloon. Is it any wonder that the kids had a healthy respect of my crazy ways of keeping them in line?
I would advise any parent to keep their sense of humor on hand at all times. Kids are bound to do things that will drive you nuts or jump up and down on your last nerve. A sense of humor can keep you from going over the deep end. Think of the things that you did as a kid.
If you have forgotten the things you did, then ask your parents. I doubt they have forgotten them. Grandparents are secretly amused by the things that your kids do to drive you nuts, because you are finally getting payback for what you did to your parents. It's like sweet karma.
Humor can help defuse a situation. You may be completely annoyed over something you have told your child over and over so sometimes a funny remark can help get your point across without causing a dispute or having then tune you out. My son's handwriting was notoriously messy. I finally told him "You do realize that if your handwriting doesn't get any better, you just might have to become a doctor". We both laughed and he did make an effort to do better. I didn't have to criticize him in an ugly way or demand he do better. I got my point across and he didn't just tune out what I had to say.
I suppose I could have been really mad when the boys threw a water balloon at me after I had told them not to. I could have really laid into them and fussed and stopped their fun. Instead I was ready and had some water balloons of my own in the fridge. Those cold water balloons got their attention and they learned to respect what I said said because they knew goofy enough to get them back in my own way.
Sometimes you have to just look at some of the things your kids have done and just think " well this will make a good story one day". Remember that your kids will be parents one day and then you can sit back and laugh as their kids do the exact same things to them.