There are some things that I see and I think, Seriously? I look back on my own childhood and thank the world that I had my mom doing things the way she did things.
Sometimes (not always, of course) I feel like my mom’s a little too hard on herself. Even though there are definitely times that my mom drives me or drove me up the wall…I think she did a fucking bad ass job of raising a couple of relatively normal human beings. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for the shit she didn’t do. Because I am a better person for it.
Things My Mom Didn’t Do
Call alcoholic beverages “mommy juice”
Please. Please. Please for the love of God. Stop. Your children will eventually find out that you’re a lush. Calling it “mommy juice” doesn’t make it any better. It makes you sound silly. And drunk.
Now, I grew up surrounded by alcohol, without having alcoholic parents. My parents owned a bar. I knew alcoholics. I knew I didn’t want to be one. So I knew what booze was. I even knew when my parents were drinking it. Big fucking deal. Get over yourself. You aren’t the first parent to need a
glass bottle of wine after a rough day. Call it what it is. Wine. Vodka. Beer. Whiskey. Name your poison…It’s okay, I promise. Your kid will thank you one day. Besides, I think I turned out okay.
Make alcohol seem taboo
I was allowed to taste everything, including, but not limited to wine and beer. I hated alcohol. It tasted gross. Children’s taste buds don’t actually LIKE booze (unless you’re drinking the super fruity stuff that tastes like candy. Don’t share that with the kids.) It’s the idea that it’s forbidden that makes so many kids experiment.
Sure I made jokes about drinking when I was a kid… When told I should drink MGD when I grew up, I told my older sister, Deven, that I would “drink Bud Light like my Daddy.” When she later told me that she would take me to a college party (at the age of 9) and get me a beer, I responded with, “I prefer cocktails.” In kindergarten, I drew a picture of a bar for what I wanted to be when I grew up. Instead of playing house or grocery store, we played bartender. But I’m almost 30 years old and I drink MAYBE once a week. So I think I’m alright on that front as well.
Give me a time out
Nope, I was never given a “time out” and asked about my feelings. Instead my parents would slap me on the ass and tell me that what I did was wrong. Seriously. Just like Pavolv’s pup, I knew when I did something bad and when I did something good. I was praised for good behavior, and taught not to be an asshole. I grew up with a healthy fear of punishment. Which is part of the reason I was such a Stepford child.
When I was an education major (twice), all of the books for child development were saying that you need to ask children about their feelings and why they did bad things. This pissed me off to no end. I even wrote a paper for Argumentative Writing in favor of corporal punishment for kids (when combined with a lot of affection.) Mostly this pissed me off because I know kids who had that kind of parent…and I know kids like me who had parents who actually punished their kids, and you know what? We were the teenagers who didn’t end up drunk off our asses and naked in the middle of a public street…(Yes, this actually happened to someone).
Let Me Run Wild
Whether in a restaurant, the grocery store, or even a kid-friendly locale, my mother had us on strict orders to behave. We weren’t allowed to run around like assholes, we had to ask to leave the table at a restaurant (even to go see the lobster tank at Red Lobster), and we had to stay close to her in stores. In other words, we were well-behaved little assholes. Most of the time.
I remember being pulled out of a restaurant and getting spanked in the parking lot, after which we returned to the table, and I was a silently crying, but sitting and not yelling, little girl. Another time, I remember playing in someone’s basement for 20 minutes, and mom thought we were outside. When she couldn’t find us, we were no longer allowed to go to the pool with our babysitter that day.
Consequences. There were consequences to running wild. I see too many kids who dominate their parents, and the parents look frazzled and unsure of what to do…At which my point my mother would look at us and say, “I am the parent. You are the child. When you’re the parent, you can do what you want. Until then sit down and shut up.”
For the record, my dad’s pretty fucking awesome, too.