Monday, April 26, 2010

My parenting's better than yours!

Parenting trends - can't live with 'em, can't seem to escape them. I had two incidents in a row this weekend.

First one:

AwesomeCloud and I were sitting peaceably at the coloring table, sorta coloring fish. I drew an eye on the fish, and AwesomeCloud then picked up one crayon at a time and made a tiny dot with it on the fish's body. It was a very colorful fish, but only if you looked at it very closely. (We then forgot to bring it home with us. Oh well.)

A harried-looking mother walked by the table, backwards, pleading with her chubby-cheeked 3-year-old daughter that it was time to leave.

"I don't want to leave," said the girl. She looked around, saw the coloring table, and ran over to it. "I want to do this," she announced.

I helpfully passed her some crayons, and she thanked me half-heartedly (and nonverbally) but didn't pick any of them up.

"Please," said the mother. "We need to go."

The little girl sighed and absently fingered a crayon.

The mom rushed off. Soon she returned, sat on the bench, and thrust a package in front of her daughter's face. "If we go home, we can blow up this Dora the Explorer inflatable toy," she said.

The girl sighed again.

"I'm a big fan of the 'grab and run' method," I offered.

The mom frowned. "I can't do that. She cries all the way to the door."

So? Like nobody here has ever heard a child cry?

She finally coaxed her sullen daughter away from the coloring table. As she turned toward the exit, she remarked to someone who she must have already known, judging by the familiarity of their manner, "Bribery! It always works."

I don't know if I'd call that 'working'. Both of them were pretty unhappy. My son is a year younger, so maybe I'm no one to talk. But our Leaving Routine consists of me presenting him with his jacket, putting it on him, and then taking his hand, and there is very rarely any unhappiness.

Of course, I waited until AwesomeCloud was hungry for lunch before I tried to leave. "Let's go eat!" is a great motivator too. And, y'know, if I have time to blow up Dora the Explorer at home, I have time to stay at the coloring table for another half hour of laboriously placed dots. Or another 50 times up and down the handicapped ramp. Maybe she had some important laundry to put in the dryer. Maybe I shouldn't gloat.

Second one:

"He seems really happy!" an acquaintance of mine observed as she looked at AwesomeCloud.

"Yes," I agreed. "He has cake. Who wouldn't be happy with cake?"

"Indeed," agreed the woman, a little unenthusiastically. "You know, I never gave my children any sweets. They never had cake until they were two."

"AwesomeCloud's on the American Diet," I remarked. "He eats healthy foods, but we also go to Dunkie's and get a sandwich and a donut. He likes his junk food almost too much."

"No," said my friend. "I fed my kids very healthy foods."

"Yes!" I argued back. "AwesomeCloud does in fact eat like an American."

(Why do people respond with a statement you make about your own self with an emphatic "No!" and then share the equivalent fact about themselves? I've started responding every time with "Yes!" and then restating my fact.)

Also, you know what? That's so cool that 20 years ago she was able to keep her kids on a super-healthy, junk-free diet for the first few years of their lives. That's awesome! We should all be inspired by her!

But that doesn't mean I'm completely made of fail. Sure, my son will inhale donuts and cakes by the dozen and whines in anticipation if he hears the word 'muffin'. But he also eats spinach voluntarily - that's right, voluntarily. And butternut squash, which I have managed to somewhat tolerate so I can eat it with him and set a good example. And a bunch of other good-for-you things.

And cake. And, yes, I give him cake. So does Daddy. It's food, it's easy to come by, and we're regular Americans.

Maybe we're inadvertently following a few parenting trends. But it seems like you can't do any sort of parenting without there being a trend for it.


  1. Ugh! I'm fed up with THOSE parents who ask if it's organic before they will eat it or give it to their children. As if one meal will taint them for the rest of their lives. Now mind you these are the same people that as children/teens would not eat anything but white bread.

  2. I can relate! Sure, I'm too good for television now, but I was a total TV junkie as a teenager.

    (Now I'm an internet junkie. So I guess I haven't improved much. Leaving out the part about the internet addiction makes me sound a lot snobbier.)

    Back to food, though. When I really think about the possibility of depriving my kid of cake, I can't do it. Cake is delicious. I want Cloud to get the full experience of cake, just like I want him to watch Spongebob someday. (Someday, perhaps at a friend's house.) It's part of the Great American Experience.

  3. "Why do people respond with a statement you make about your own self with an emphatic "No!" and then share the equivalent fact about themselves?"

    Gah. I wish I knew, because maybe if I knew I could make them stop.

    Cloud needs to eat s'mores and watch Bill Nye the Science Guy! And Muppets! Heh. I'm sure there's a good store near you where you could buy him some organic junk food if necessary. If he's voluntarily eating spinach and butternut squash, he's already eating better than the typical American.