Monday, August 11, 2014

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Things I Said I’d Never Allow My Children To Do, And All The Ways I’ve Caved



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Before having children, I had a good list of things I’d never let my children do. I’ve stuck to some of them, but because of fits or puppy dog eyes, most have gone right out the window. Below are a few examples.

Watch Barney: Barney has always scared the hell out of me. He seems friendly enough, but at the end of the day, once the cameras are off, I always felt confident he ate those children. I mean, let’s face it, he’s a dinosaur. Ok… I’m joking. The point is, substitute what ever show drove you nuts before you had children: Pokémon, Sesame Street, Elmo… Mine was Barney. I always said that my kids would never watch Barney. But sure enough, they found out about that purple nightmare, and we spent hours watching the damn thing. Why? Because when my kids were two or three, Barney got them to shut up for just a moment. It got them to stop clawing at my pant leg, or tearing books off my shelf, or calling random people on my cell phone. On those really stressful days, Barney held my toddler’s attention just long enough that I could sit down, place my hands on my temples, and keep from going crazy. And for that, I say, bless you Barney. Eat all the children you want.

Let them make my house a mess: I used to go into homes of families with young children, look at the toys and food on the floor, and think: What the hell is going on in here? Do you just not care anymore? Or did having children make you go blind? I’m the youngest in my family, so I didn’t really know what happens when young children are around. I didn’t know that they are tornados of filth, drool, poop, boogers, sticky goo, and toys. I didn’t know about their power to disrupt anything clean. I also didn’t know that sometimes it’s just better to leave the mess, and go to the park, rather than turn in to a flaming dictator, or spend your days cleaning and missing out on rewarding moments.

Let them play video games: I’ve never been a huge fan of video games, and much like Barney, I always said I’d never let my kids play games for hours. In fact, I used to say that my kids wouldn’t play games at all. But once my son turned five and discovered that video games were cooler than Barney, suddenly I found myself in a real pinch. I was still in graduate school, and sometimes I needed something to distract him while I got my homework done. Faster than I’d like to admit, Tristan suddenly started playing games more and more. It is safe to say that his addiction is well regulated. And I will admit that I still don’t like games much. But what I can say; few things get that kid motivated to do anything like taking away his games, or granting him more time playing games. Oh… the power!

Allow them to eat at at McDonald’s: There are so many reasons to hate McDonald’s. The food is horrible for you. Ronald McDonald can’t be trusted.  The toys and fries are ruining my car. The play area is eerily sticky and smells like pee. I always said I’d never let my kids eat there. But then grandma stepped in. Mel’s mother started taking Tristan there when she graciously cared for him while I finished school and Mel worked full time. He quickly became addicted to Happy Meals. Before he could speak, he could recognize the golden arches. He’d point at them, and grunt, and then cry when we didn’t stop. Now, every time we eat out, both my older kids want to go to McDonald’s. They love the place. And frankly, kids have powers. When your kids love something so much, even when you think it’s gross, sadly you end up there. Ugh… the power!

Let them wreck the backseat of my car: Before kids, I used to look at the backseat of parents’ cars and wonder if they were hoarders on their way home from a quick stop at the city dump. Now I understand that kids just don’t give a damn about your car. It feels like the back seat of my car is not mine anymore. Like it’s part of another country, with very liberal dumping laws that I didn’t vote for.

Let them throw fits in stores: I remember saying things under my breath like: “Can’t you control your kids?” Or “They need to do a better job disciplining their children.” Or “If you can’t keep your kids in line, then don’t leave the house.” Then I had my own kids, and realized that socially, they are worse than drunks. Once, while at Target, my four-year-old son threw a fit in the men’s department. I told him to stop, and he punched me in the balls. Then he laughed in my face. I didn’t teach him to pull crap like that. He figured it out on his own. While explaining to him that he was being disrespectful, he ate a booger. Long story short, it takes years to teach children how to act appropriately in public, and the only way to do it is by taking them out and coaching them. Sorry people without kids, but you are part of this practice.

Allow them to dress like mismatched hobos: I used to look at kids in mismatched clothing and think: my kids will not dress like that. But then, my kids started dressing themselves. One day, Norah (my five-year-old) came out in a crazy mixed up outfit of jeans, shorts, a skirt, clashing colors, flip-flops, and a tiara. She was so proud of her outfit. Suddenly I was faced with the choice to make her look how I wanted to look and squash her independence, or support her exploration with fashion. I told her she looked fabulous and took her to the store.

What are some of the things you've caved on?

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter


Anonymous said...

I always said my kids would watch no more than 1 hour of TV per day. I still try to keep the amount of TV time to a minimum, but some days, you just let Jake and the Neverland Pirates do the babysitting because otherwise you're going to kill everyone in the house.

Lucky said...

Care Bears. One day, I found the movie on Netflix that drove my parents crazy when I was a kid. I showed 5 minutes of it to my husband and my daughter was hooked. We watched it almost every day for months after that. Sadly, I have the songs memorized and can't burn it in the field like my dad did.

SarahJane709 said...

Some days the television, snacks I don't usually allow, or a crazy outfit is the line between a public meltdown, getting dinner ready in peace or five minutes to myself and chaos.