Parenting 101 Turned Upside Down

On the way home today, my daughters were talking about a girl at their school who is...challenging.  This child has had some rough patches in life, and she "acts out" quite a bit.  She lies, she accuses people of things, she creates drama.  She can be a bit tough to take.

I think every school has one.

So my littlest pipes up from the back seat: "I can't believe 'Mary' actually likes 'Susie'...I mean, really!"*  Keep in mind, my littlest one is six.

I felt the hackles on the back of my neck rise.

I will NOT have mean girls.  Will.  Not.

So it's a teachable moment, right?  I'm always up for a teachable moment.  Here's what I said:

Girls, listen to me very carefully.  I expect you and your brothers to be kind and gracious to everyone.  Everyone.  Remember, people who are mean and bratty are usually that way because they are sad about something.  You have to remember that and be compassionate towards them.  I don't want any of you to ever say mean things about anyone.  

The briefest of pauses...a mere pregnant beat in the air.  And then the oldest pipes up from the middle seat:

"Mom, are you sad?"

Ohhhh, the laughter and hilarity that ensued!  That made them laugh the whole rest of the way home.  Little stinkers.

* * *

In this, and many other ways, my children seem to defy Parenting Advice.  They're slippery folk, these five little beings.  I try various techniques designed to raise good and happy citizens, and they find a way to skewer them.  When I'm giving my best "this is why we aren't buying processed food" speech, one of my younger ones will look at me and say: "Mom, you should just chillax."

* * *

On the soccer field this weekend, another mom was talking about how her first child was such a great eater: the first born always liked healthy food, never snacked between meals, has always been willing to try new tastes, etc.  This mother naturally assumed it was because she had done such a good job of developing her child's tastes, and providing smart boundaries for snacking and eating.

Then she had her second one.  Everything was different with this one: no natural tendencies toward healthy eating, tons of surreptitious snacking, a raging sweet tooth.  She had to confront the possibility that she just got lucky with the first one, and that all her careful efforts were not the decisive factor in her first kid's great eating habits.

We decided that all this effort we put in to making the right decisions and "raising 'em right" was a big fat waste of time, and that we could probably just phone it in and get very similar results.

* * *

Maybe we should all just chillax.  Chillax and cheer up, or the sneaky monkeys will skewer you.

* * *

*names, of course, changed.  Susie, in this case, is the girl who can be mean; Mary is just an unwitting pawn in the story.


MotherOfGooses said…
I love this post. We were patting ourselves so hard on the back after our daughter was born. She would nap for 3-4 hours at a time. Alas, when our son showed up we realized that it wasn't our brilliance that helped her sleep.
It's such a bummer, isn't it? Would be nice if all our brilliance actually had an impact... :)

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