Monday, December 5, 2011


Some other parents make me crazy.  Parent meetings at various schools can be nightmares.  Parenting in 2011 seems to  involve a one-upmanship on how to be an ass.  I go to meetings and quietly sit. A lot of what I hear in conversation is what they restrict Johnny or Jane on today. I am quiet at these meetings.  I embarrass my children enough. The noes are drowning out the yeses.

“Johnnie’s on a gluten-free peanut- free sugar- free nutrition- free diet!”  We used to wonder, “What Johnny reads?”  Now I wonder what Johnny eats. Johnny, by the way, is 300 pounds.

“I limit TV to only 2 minutes on alternating Fridays when there is a new moon.” Meanwhile Jane just had a bat mitzvah and hired Justin Bieber (actually true in my daughter's school). Apparently there is no restriction on the cost of entertainment.

“Vaccinations?  I told my pediatrician that I need to have an alternative schedule that will be completed upon Johnny’s eighteenth birthday or death, whichever comes first.”  Johnny just had a case of whooping cough and infected three other restricted kids.

“I restrict the Internet to 4 minutes per day and only on educational items.”  Jane got the most out of her 4 minutes and just paid an online service to write her history paper.

With the exception of  the Justin Bieber story, these are exaggerations.  But the sentiment is there.  It’s a competition on being a more stupidly restrictive parent.  Are they getting this from some App? Available on Siri? They no longer talk of Johnny’s or Jane's accomplishments; They talk of their own unfounded boundaries like it’s a badge of honor. This is not the way iParent.

I remember being at a Christmas party about a year ago and I made a marbled chocolate cheesecake. It actually came out right for a change, no large cracks, underdone middle or funky crust. There was a toddler there happily eating some off her mother's plate.  Another parent seemed aghast at the small child eating such a treat.  "I would never let my child eat cheesecake!" she exclaimed.  The toddler's mother and I each gave each other a puzzled look as if to say: "Okay, you get the gold star for today’s limitations." Has anyone heard of moderation lately? Now what does Jane and Johnny really do?

The funny thing is that the kids are always going to be two steps ahead.  I know mine are and that’s the way it should be. I was always two steps ahead of my parents. It's not a lack of vigilance; it’s the law of nature. It's called progress.

I am a liberal parent.  I parent in the "why not" as opposed to the "why." Restrict too much, they will either go crazy when they have freedom or worse, not know how to handle stressful situations.  No,  I don’t censor.  Go ahead use the Internet. See R-rated things.  Most good movies are rated R. Better on the screen than in a real life drama. You see most of that violence on simulated video games anyway.  The sex? Well, that can be tricky. If you don’t understand something, ask.  Ask me, a teacher or someone else who might know the answer. Google it.  It will be your peripheral brain. I certainly do not have all the answers. Be curious. Go ahead and taste everything.  ( I consciously made them drink any kind of formula as babies, eat everything as toddlers and ignored the forays of eating dirt or having Purell® in a holster whipping it out every time  they touched any surface.) Have pets. Visit zoos and barnyards. Your immune system will thank me.  Please go on sleepovers, camping trips and every school outing.  If I didn't trust the other parents, teachers or counselors, you wouldn't be going. See how other people live, eat, and sleep.  You will be a more tolerant person. Trust me and I will trust you. Most of all trust yourself. Read everything you can. Including warnings, many warnings. And the consequences if you don't heed those warnings.  Make sound and educated judgments.  See the world.  Make your own decisions.  I will not be here,  nor do you want me to be here,  all your life. Most of all,  make mistakes.  That is the only way to learn.  Maybe someday it will be uParent and that better not be too soon. Remember the warnings. Yes, sex can be tricky. Sometimes the noes make the yeses even better.

1 comment:

  1. Hallelujah for a sane voice in the wilderness....