Saturday, August 16, 2008

Amateur Hour at the Park

I'm not a perfect mother. I let my kids watch PG-13 movies. I yell. Other times, I let them be too wild. They've been known to cuss, too.

On occasion, I watch them walk past my door while I'm folding laundry. "Where's mom?" they ask, and I don't say anything. I assume that if they really wanted to know, they would turn their heads rather than just hoping to trip over me.

I door is wide open and we only have six rooms in our house, so it's not like I'm hiding in the west atrium or anything. Still, sometimes I feel like a slacker mom.

The good news is, when I start feeling down on myself, watching strangers interact with their children does just the trick.

The other day at the park, for instance, it was amateur hour.

A 12 or so year old boy told his mom, "Fine, if you won't let me do that, then I'll call you a lardbutt for the rest of the day."

Wow, I thought. It's all over for that kid. He should have started running before he said know, to get a head start.

But here's how his mom responded: "Well, how would you like it if I called you a lardbutt? It would probably hurt your feelings."

That was it. Then the kid laid down next to his mom and stared at the sky.

Next, a different mom came rollerblading over to a table, where her husband was napping and her children were sitting on the bench. "Who wants to walk next to me while I rollerblade around the park?" she asked.

Her two boys were like, "Um, no thank you."

"Fine!" she exploded. "Then just sit there and get fat!"

They looked at her politely, but blankly.

She stormed off, but then whirled around. "Is that what you want? To sit there and get fat?"

I'd be thinking, "Yeah, pretty much...considering the alternative."

Finally, one of them walked with her, probably because they seemed to be very nice boys. Their dad, by the way, never woke up through any of this.

Next thing I knew, a boy in a different family (not the lardbutt family,) yelled at his mom in a really mean voice, "Fine, then I'm leaving!"

That boy's tone of voice wouldn't exactly inspire an apology from me, but his mom said meekly, "I'm sorry."

For a minute I nice parents have mean kids and vice versa?

It can't be. I know lots of nice parents who have nice kids and surely there are plenty of mean parents who have mean kids.

I just don't understand how you could hear your son call you a lardbutt and not get mad. Or why you'd tell your kids they're going to get fat. As if they care.

If I told my kids, "Would you rather have a million pounds of candy and be so fat that you're asked to join the circus...or have no candy and be fit and healthy?" they would definitely choose the candy. No contest.

Speaking of my kids, you're probably wondering what they were doing through all this. I have no idea. I could see them (very clearly from up on my high horse.) J.J. struggled to climb up something. I thought about going over there, but eventually he figured it out on his own. I couldn't hear them. For all I know, they were calling each other lardbutts.

I guess it's easy to be a perfect mom when my kids are out of earshot. But, frankly I needed a break from them. Maybe these moms did, too. (Sleepyland Daddy sure did--and he took it.)

In truth, we all need our quiet time. We all get frustrated with our children. Sometimes we're too strict, other times too lenient. The important thing is to go to a park every once in a while and watch other families. Trust me, you'll immediately feel better about your own.

On the other hand, I know our family has served this exact purpose for other families at the park. I like to think of it as a self-righteousness co-op. So if you don't start feeling better about your family, rest assured that somebody else is feeling better at your expense. Hopefully, it will be your turn next week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very funny! Your dad and I think you're a great mom! But it's natural to think we're not. I did! love, mom

8:35 PM  

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