Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Perfect Parenting

OK, now that it is warm again, I can talk about one of my favorite subjects: parents who make my life difficult. Since I'm not a teacher, administrator, or police officer, it would be fair to ask how other parents can make my life tough. It is because they are ruining parenting.

While there have always been parents who make other parents crazy --- the ones who really did give their kids a pony, the ones who made homemade cupcakes with each child's name on it for Valentine's day, the ones who dressed all of their children in coordinating outfits on picture day --- today's parents have taken things to new heights of irritating.

In the old days, people had lots of children and they didn't have time to think about how to maximize the self-actualization of each of their children. They just worked, raised children and pigs, and moved on. Life began when the last kid got married and the dog died.
I blame women's lib. Seriously. I'm a feminist. But when we asked men to take part in parenting, we should have known they would turn it into a competitive event.

First they made it a verb. "What cha doing this weekend, Bo?" "I'm Parenting." "Cool. Parent down!"

Then they made rules, with goals and objectives, and measurable standards of success.
It's not just the men, of course. Women who decided not to have children in their twenties also add to the problem.

If you have children in your twenties, you don't have a problem. You just don't have problems in your twenties. You are perfect and invincible. Things work out.

Women who didn't have children in their twenties went to work in places that had goals and objectives and measurable standards of success. They liked it. When they had children, they decided to keep control by using the skills and strategies that had made them successful at work.

Since children aren't that easy to control, these men and women became frustrated. They started worrying. They blamed other parents who didn't hold their children to their measurable standards. They took over the PTAs. They pushed for legislation so that all children would have goals and objectives and measurable standards of success. They got rid of recess. They started global warming. (OK, that's probably not fair.)

Since I am inherently lazy, I mean laid-back, I have resisted the parenting strategies that go beyond reading to my child and doing an occasional papier-mache project.

That doesn't mean the Competitive Parenting Team hasn't made it harder to be a parent. In the great "No child left behind" battle, my children were left behind. They didn't get on the SAT team. They didn't get training in test taking strategies. Although some of their teachers were exceptional, I think that was an oversight. Or maybe what I like in a teacher isn't what the CPT likes and my kids got lucky. Even though they are "gifted and talented," they graduated "Thank the Lawdie."

My children are bright, kind, creative, polite even when I'm not there, funny, and smart. I take very little credit for any of that. I take credit only for their good looks.

I am not a perfect parent, but I am a perfectly fine parent. And that's where it has to stay.

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