Wednesday, March 03, 2010


The thing about trying to be an old-school, kids-should-not-be-the-center-of-our-universe,and-they-should-suffer-the-consequences-of-their-decisions, and-learn-to-be-self-sufficient parent is that sometimes other parents simply cannot allow it. Often when I have made a purposeful decision to allow my child to learn a lesson or take a more difficult path other parents mis-read the situation as a one-time error of omission on my part. But it's not. See, what they think is my accidental ineptitude is my deliberate neglect.

As an example, I like to allow my son to walk to and from his friends' home. To you this might seem like child endangerment but to me I think a 15-year-old who shaves can walk around the neighborhood. Even in the dark. But every time I arrange for him to do so, someone offers him a ride (to clarify, I mean someone he knows--if it were a stranger then my entire premise would be faulty).

Or the time he left his bike out on garbage day when he was in the first grade despite many warnings and it got picked up (fairly) by the scrap scavengers. When I told him I would not replace the bike a neighbor got wind of the story and dug out an old one for him from her garage. And when he wanted a new PS-Game-X-Thingy and I told him he'd have to wait until his birthday the mother of his friend bought him one thinking I could not afford one. She made an excuse, "I bought this for a friend and he didn't want it" but it was still in the package so I don't think so.

People, these are teachable moments. Work with me!

This kindness and generosity extends not only to the children around here but the parents as well. I never bring a camera (much less a camcorder) to school events. This is because I want to enjoy the event then capture it in my memory. That and the realization that no one, not even you, wants to see photos (much less videos) of your kids at school events. Sorry to inform you of this truth but not even the grandparents (especially the grandparents) wants to suffer through this crap despite anything they may have said to the contrary. In fact, not even the kid at the event wants to see the photos or the videos. No, not once has one of my kids said, "Hey Mom, do you have a nice clear shot of me playing the clarinet in the fourth grade winter concert?" And I am fairly sure that no kid has ever come home from college and said, "Mom, can I borrow the video of me in the fifth-grade play, I want to show it to all the guys in the dorm." So, while I attend all my children's events, I do not record them for history. But this for some reason, makes other moms very uncomfortable. On more than one occasion a very nice, and well meaning mom has leaned over and said, "I see you forgot the camera. That happened to me once," then snapped pictures of my kids and emailed them to me. I am not making that up.

And I just remembered the time when I was snack mom for a soccer game and had not had a chance to get to the store. Screw it, I thought. The little rats can go a whole hour without fruit roll-ups and granola bars. But when I got to the game and ran into a friend from the neighborhood and told her what was going on she blanched. No, she could not allow this. She got on her bike and rode home for granola bars and juice boxes. She did this not because she felt the little tykes on the field needed snacks, no, she did this to save me. (In hindsight it was a good thing too because I don't even know what the social consequences of "failure to bring snack when you're snack mom" are--I've never seen it in 16 years.)

I believe someone once said (maybe it was me) that when it comes to parenting anyone who does more than you do is obsessive and anyone who does less is neglectful.

So please don't think I'm neglectful--I'm deliberately doing less.

That sounded a lot better in my head than it looks on paper


  1. Hahaha, nice observation about the pictures!

  2. Judy, it sounded great. I really enjoy your posts. You're right on these topics and express it with style and humor.

  3. Thanks Bill! There really are a lot of us old-fashioned parents out there. We just have to look for each other!

  4. You can notice this everywhere in the world, also Holland where Laurent is from :0). Parents wants the best for their children doing the worst by spoil-ing them. Here they don't even educate them to be modest and behave. In a shop full of grown-up people it's normal to hear a child shouting above all the other voices. In a restaurant when the child throws the menu on the floor you can hear the parent say "don't do that Mary otherwise the waiter get's angry".


  5. Dhyan,

    The kids in my town are for the most part polite but I have seen this kind of thing too. Or worse, a kid screaming and the parent not doing anything. Even in church! I heard one parent say "I don't want to react because then he thinks he can get his way." Idiot. So we have to suffer? Thanks for reading!