Monday, December 14, 2009

my trickle down theory

"mirror, mirror, on the wall, i am my mother after all!".....that's what my needlepoint pillow says! and if it's on the pillow, it must be true. thankfully, i loved my mom very much...although she died almost 2 years ago, she is with me everyday and i'm sure she's laughing at me.....especially if she is overseeing any of the random moments of me and motherhood. it seems like yesterday that my mom was laughing when i told her that grace, at 3 years old, insisted on wearing her floral printed heavy cotton tights to the beach on cape cod....i remember telling my mom about my headstrong any daughter knows, her mother will just smile knowingly because history is repeating itself. i remember how sweet she thought my little grace was....she shared none of my frustration....just joy because her adorable little grandchild was behaving in a manner very familiar to my mom...she had lived all of this with me.

a million years ago, when i was four years old, i was in a fashion show at a saks fifth avenue women's luncheon....i can still remember my mother's frustration, when i would not, could not, wear the newfangled polyester/cotton socks.....o.k., a prepster from the get go, it was almost impossible for me to put my little four year old feet into anything but 100% cotton!.....until my mother gritted her teeth....then i knew that woman meant business....after putting up quite a stubborn battle, i wore the icky feeling socks and i had to be happy wearing them, "or else". i don't really use the "or else"....maybe i should grit my teeth and try it....i think my kids would laugh and smell my fear..."OR ELSE!"....maybe i'll give it a go,'s just that it seems so much like a threat....

today, i give everyone their list of "to do's" and expect them to be done in a timely manner...apparently, mom timing and teen timing are just a tad different. also, as soon as our kids turned teen on us, they seem to use "sure, in a minute" to tide us, the parents, over. sometimes, if we are distracted by life and one of the many things going on in a household, "in a minute" may turn into hours....the a.d.d. parents and follow through is a big issue.....mostly, because it backfires on our parenting code....we try to be consistent....we are consistent with most big stuff....homework, bedtimes, morning schedules....but sometimes we fall short on the little chores of empty the dishwasher, take out the garbage....little chores but big when they back up.

and that's where our kids get my version of "or else!" goes like this....."daisy stop barking at fitzy...fitzy! get out of the the garbage is all over the floor ...we have to make sure that there is no food out to set fitzy up for failure! (apparently, since we adopted her, she is way beyond curing of this piggy food behavior)......when fitzy gets into the garbage, daisy barks at her, either because she wants fitzy to share or because she's warning us, like lassie, that there's trouble......when daisy barks, grace shreiks,"fitz..y!"....then t.j. yells at his sister to calm down....she screams at her brother...i intervene while stopping fitzy...when i stop fitzgerald, daisy stops barking!....then, i call the kids to pick up the garbage and carry it out to the garbage pails in the garage....and put a new hefty in the pail.

after the garbage scenario is complete, that's when i begin my "trickle down theory" rant....i think, by now, they cringe!'d think that they would be so sick of that routine that they would get the whole process down in a robotic fashion, just to keep me and my "trickle down theory" quiet.

and don't even get me started on the dishwasher "trickle down" ......not emptied? then, the sink is full...i like having a clean sink....blah, blah, blah.

i should have known that my day had come....minutes after our first baby was born, i begged the nurse for a ginger mom had a glass of ginger ale every night. that was just the beginning...

i know i'm not perfect...i come from a long line of imperfect people.....lotsa love, just not perfect.....i guess, i'd much rather have the love!

i've been malled....

so, friday after the kids came home from school, grace begins updating me on her plans for the weekend...this is not something new with our first child....she was born with an appointment book in her scheduling is her life...and, at 14, it is all about her schedule and her life.

so, friday, as her bus arrival time was quickly approaching, i called my husband and demanded, "quick, think fast...what are we doing for the weekend...i need to know our plans before grace gets home. she'll have an agenda and we have to be prepared...with our plans...for us!"
i know, who's in charge here anyway? it's just that we, as parents, have to plan our offensive strategy before it becomes defensive....that's when the trouble begins. huh? yes, this is the life of our fourteen year old daughter, everything is urgent....everything.

as a baby, she woke up at 7:16 every day....when she began talking, she would sit in her crib and point to her hats, hanging on hooks in her room...."hat!...hat!...hat!", she would say. yes, it was our little social butterfly, wanting to be "dressed" for her morning meal.
when she was about four years old, she would wake up, rush into our room, like there was an emergency and say,"can we bake cupcakes?"

basically, we could have been running like firemen on their way to a fire, since she was born. we are pretty relaxed parents...we like to have a good time....we enjoy our children....we love our children. it's just that our sense of timing and there sense of timing are in two different time zones.

we make plans..we follow through...we don't make promises that can be broken...we always try to be honest....we don't always say yes to our kids. apparently, all of the other parents say yes....all of the matter what the world....yes....ipod...yes....television in your bedroom...yes.....laptop!

well, they sound like dream parents. why didn't we have parents like that? our children always seem to find the kids in this world with parents in that world! every other parent!....but we're not their parents, we say!...."we have to say no because we love you"....they just don't buy it.

we are the worst parents in the world.....and, once in awhile, we're o.k.! back when the kids were small and wanted every flag, balloon, horn on our fourth of july parade route..... sold by people, who have an evil plot to separate young parents from their money, for something overpriced...... that might not last til naptime. a good friend, with grown children, told us to prepare ourselves.....because, even if we take them to a parade, with marching bands, rollerskaters, monkeys doing cartwheels, gorillas driving cars, and more.....children will still say, "but, i didn't get a lollipop!"

and today, with two tweens, everything we do seems to leave them feeling they are missing out on the lollipop......and, "all of the other parents get their kids the lollipops!"

in some cases, that seems to be true.....and at this moment in time, it seems like it would be so much easier to be the fun parents.... the parents who say yes to the lollipops.... yes to the junk from the street vendors at the parades.... yes to the concert tickets... yes to the sleepovers... yes to the invitations to kids' houses with NO parents home, because THEY trust THEIR children....yes to the television in their bedrooms......on and on and on. "wouldn't it be nice", as the beach boys sang. unfortunately, for our children, we are parenting with a more rolling stones type style,"you can't always get what you want".....and that's true for us, the parents, too..... other parents, who give everything to their kids... because it's easier than dealing with a disappointed, angry, hysterical child, make our lives miserable too!

my husband and i always dream of kids' friends who have parents that know "the code", you know, "the parent code".....kind of looking out for each other, standing tall, braced together as a giant parenting team.....all with the same set of game rules. and sadly, it's only a dream. while sitting with a friend, discussing the different styles of parenting tweens, at school orientation this year......she suggested i look around the room at all of the other parents....i did...she said, "just think, they all were in high school you remember the different types of kids that you went to your high school?.......they're all parents now...think about that." that put it all in perspective...of course, we can't have a "parent code".

so, on friday night, i took my daughter and her friend to the mall....despite the fact that it was the absolute last place in the world i wanted to be. as it turned out, as happy as they were to go to the mall, i brought them to the "wrong mall"....some of their friends were at the other mall. they survived. i survived....nevertheless, i've been malled enough for a good long time.

and saturday night, we were "the worst parents in the world"....we wouldn't let our daughter go to a friends house, with parents out at a christmas party....even though, everyone else was allowed to go....