Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Parenting rules (get over it)

In the past 24 hours, one week after San Francisco, I have broken many of my "rules." Not to say these are hard-and-fast rules, but rather the way things have come to be expected in my household. We all try to maintain a certain standard, until our tough love melts into the squishy variety. And, sometimes, until the car breaks down.

Rule 1 - My children eat healthy, homemade meals, especially for dinner. They do. I cook from scratch, I cook ahead and freeze meals. I buy far more flour and raw vegetables than I do processed food.

Last night, my children had fast food for dinner in the car. Andrew commented on it.

“Gladys, doesn’t it feel like we are on a special trip? Like we are on a vacation or something?”

We were going into Cleveland after a long day of school and activities to pick up my husband from work. His car broke down. I drove down to Cleveland savoring my double cheeseburger. No, really, it tasted really, really good (comfort food). I didn’t even know I was missing it. When I got home, my kitchen was clean. I turned off the lights in their rooms and ran off to play tennis; that was devilishly nice.

Rule 2 - I allow time for my children to do their homework. They read every day.

Andrew did part of his homework in the car, on a clipboard. He didn’t read. I’m not even sure his teeth got brushed. Ooops.

Rule 3 – My children take personal responsibility for their own things. If they forget it at home, then they don’t have it at school. They need to learn these things.

I saw my son’s snack sitting on the counter this morning, right next to the homework he had done in the car. I did it. I took his snack and his homework to school. How can you expect a kid to remember these things when he didn’t have a proper dinner and his backpack was still in the car from the night before? (I am sure every kid gets a proper dinner and has his backpack neatly on a hook every night – wouldn’t that be a world?). I was torn between feeling like an idiot and feeling some sympathy for a sweet six year old: not so tough love.

Rule 4 – My children do not watch TV, unless someone is sick or there is some other compelling reason. Needing to get a few things done does not normally constitute a compelling reason.

My sister called me this morning. Conversations with my sister are always amusing. If you could put a theme on our conversation today, it would have to be “get over it, already.” We were laughing, shaking our heads. I told her how I’ve been so behind since my trip. She laughed at me.
“Did you consider that you might actually be tired because of your trip? Lay down for 40 minutes.”

“Oh, right, what about these kids in my house?”

“Oh, that’s right, you don’t plop them down in front of the TV like normal people do.”

That is what she said. But, I heard what she didn’t say too.

“Get over it. Get off your high horse. There is no help for the hopeless.”

Everyone needs a sister.

Mine is not for the faint of heart, but I’ll get over it.

Did I mention that my kids were watching Sesame Street when I wrote this post?


Badass Geek said...

My mother had similar rules for my sisters and I growing up. Rules are good, but it doesn't make you a bad or irresponsible person to bend/break them once in a while.

Rachel said...

Hook for backpack...nope not one of them in my house...it's where my son leaves it; normally in his room as he does homework as soon as he gets home.

He watches a lot of TV but he is a straight A student and I ride him on school; when he doesn't listen or forget to do his chores I forget to let him watch tv or play video games...then he appreciates! LOL

The joy of raising kids...Loved your post!

Indy said...

You'd fire me if I was your nanny. In fact, you'd never hire me.

Anonymous said...

It's boring to always stuck to the rules.

With the tv, it's more difficult as they get older, because their main concern will become wanting to fit in with their friends.

It also becomes a handy bargaining tool.

Anna said...

'My sister is not for the faint at heart'? Snicker. How rudely you describe my mother. Oh, heck, she deserves it. :P