Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meany Pants

Several months (or more) ago, my husband and I received an invitation to join one of the most exclusive and expensive clubs in town. While we debated the cost and weighed the pros and cons, we ultimately decided that joining the club was good for us and our family.

Not everyone can get in. I don't know if it's by invitation only or if you can apply, and maybe they have secret meetings where they discuss potential members and if they should blackball people or not. All I know is, now that I'm in, I'm a lifetime member.

Welcome to "The Mean Parents" Society.

Or Mob. I guess it depends on who you ask.

I didn't really intend on becoming a Mean Parent, and the first time I was informed that I was such, I heartily disagreed. I feel like I am a fairly nice, mostly agreeable, person, and would never be mean on purpose. Thoughtless, yes. Insensitive...absolutely. One may even call me somewhat phlegmatic, which I get. I don't like to cry at movies. But mean? Really?

The Scene: Doorbell rings at my house. Daughter's younger friend (who she likes to pretend she is babysitting) is at the door, asking to play. Daughter invites friend in, even though she knows that she has other things to do. The queue is too long. She's backed up. And a friend who you are pretending to babysit is a distraction, not a help. So daughter is firmly instructed to tell friend to go home. Friend was witness to the interaction.

Conversation as follows:

Me: C cannot stay here while you clean your room. I've told you that you have to do (fill in list of things) before you can play.
Sassy Daughter: But...(fill in with sauciness)

Friend goes home.

Sassy: You are forbidden from babysitting!! And I mean it!
Me: OK. I don't like babysitting anyway.
Sassy (dramatically): I mean you can't be around kids! Because you're SO MEAN!! They'll be afraid of you!! They won't want to come to our house anymore!!!!!
Me: Good. I don't like kids.

The Scene: Dinnertime. Family around the table. Son holds nose up at the Lemon Goat Cheese Pasta with Kale. I get it. Not necessarily kid-friendly fare, but still tasty. You don't like kale? Fine. Try it, then push it aside, and you basically have pasta with cheese. He chooses not to eat dinner but, once everyone gets up from table, to get a box of Life cereal from the cabinet and chow.

Conversation as follows:

Me (yanking hand from box): I do not appreciate what you are doing. I told you to eat your dinner, and the fact that you chose get a box of cereal even though you know you were supposed to eat is, to me, disrepectful.
The Kale-Hater: I don't like dinner. And IIIIIIII'm huuuuuuuuungry.{insert pout, then scowl}
Me: If you are hungry, then dinner is what you need to eat.
The Kale-Hater (scowling at me): I'm. Not. Eating. Dinner.
Me: Do you want to have it for breakfast?
Kale-Hater: That's MEAN, MOM.

I can show you mean. Just open up the newpaper and read how people treat each other. The world can be a mean place, full of hate and darkness.

I don't feel like I'm mean.

But if mean is how you describe us when we take away your iPod because you were texting after 8:45 (our iPod contract--which was signed by our kids--strictly prohibits texting after a certain time), or I made your friend leave because you had to do your homework, or no, you cannot download that song because it's inappropriate, or we told you that a sleepover was out of the question because you were disrepectful, well, then I guess we are.

We have to count the cost for every action we take, because good or bad, the choices my husband and I make have consequences. An aquaintance said something to me the other day that made me think. She said "My kids already know how to be kids. I'm raising adults." An interesting way to look at things, right?

Responsibility. Compassion. Self-control. Respect. Dignity. Courtesy. Kindness. Sympathy. Elegance. Chivalry. Graciousness. Politeness. Generosity. Wisdom.

All things we want to instill in our kids, who we are raising to be adults.

Mean Parents Society.

Now accepting new members.

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