Shut Up, Mama.Posted: May 21, 2014
I’m a lax-ish parent. Not in the care way (well, I hope not, anyhow), but in the behavior way. Just this morning, my son told me to shut up more than once. Here’s the thing: he was in a full-fledged fit of HANGER (hunger + anger) and it’s not worth fighting him on it, on any of it until he actually consumes some calories. Here’s the other thing: I don’t actually care if he says “shut up” to me. Really, I just don’t. It doesn’t really bother me. I mean, I am a grown-up, and I therefore realize that him telling me to shut up doesn’t mean in any way, shape, or form that I will actually need to shut up, so it means about as much to me as if he said “Sprout wings and fly around the earth 46 times while wearing a loincloth!”.
But I know I’m supposed to “not allow him to speak to me that way”. So I feel a little guilty and like a shit parent when I do. Which is stupid, because I actually have the right to parent however I choose. Maybe it’s left over from being brought up in such a restricted, miserably southern and uninformed area? I’m not sure.
Also, I don’t care if he curses. Just as long as he doesn’t do it at me. We do actually punish him for that. You can say, “FUCK!” when you drop a glass and it breaks. You cannot say “FUCK YOU!” to someone. Not that my kid actually says fuck, but you get the gist.
It’s a balancing act of sorts, parenting is for me. I find myself having to check myself to discover, really understand, a lot of my knee-jerk parenting reactions. Is it something that there is a good reason for my children to adhere to, or am I just being a control freak? I try very hard to stick only to the first one. You see, children are actual human beings who have the right to a certain degree of autonomy, I believe. So if my kids want to stand up while eating, or eat with elbows on the table, or sleep in clothes instead of pajamas, I try not to let it bug me. Or, I allow it to bug me a bit, but I try not to react and tell them not to do it.
Most people aren’t like me. I get that. Well, I get that they’re not. I don’t really get why. I mean, is demonstrating your control over someone younger and more helpless than you really so crucial to parents? Ooooh, I’m so impressed. Someone you could literally beat to death easily does your bidding. Oooooh! Ok, maybe that’s going too far. But…I don’t know. So much of what people “expect” from children seems to fall into the category of Stupid Human Tricks. “Yes Ma’am”. Sitting with knees under the table. Not eating unless a parent says it’s Ok. Keeping your room clean (as in, sparkling clean, not safely clean-enough). Stupid shit like that.
I think I mostly adhere to the Partner Standard, honestly. I expect my kids to treat me the way I treat my partner, or how I would treat a friend. Would I tell a friend how to sit? No. Would I say “yes sir” to my husband? That’s a FUCK NO. I wouldn’t actually say “yes sir” to ANYONE unless I was being ironic. Would I tell my husband to shut up if I was angry with him? Probably, yep. In fact I’m pretty sure I have. Would I hit my husband or friend? Nope, that’s why that action gets a time-out or worse.
Interesting, working that all out. It sounds like I mostly just treat my children as human beings with their own rights and agendas. Which is how they kind of should be treated, right? So why does it feel so…controversial to me to not give a smack-down for saying “shut up”?