The only people who are sure how to bring up children are those who have never raised any. I find that the rest of us are fairly clueless, most of the time. Well, I can hear some of you saying, “Speak for yourself, Marla Jo. I know how to raise children just fine.”
Good for you, Mom. You’ve returned from the grave to remind me, once again, that I don’t know what I’m doing.
Before I became a parent, I made a long list of all the things I would never do. This list came from observing other families, and the things that annoyed me most about watching them for many years.
Now that my kids are nearly grown, I can say with great authority that I did most of the things I swore I wouldn’t, and I also learned in the process to never say “never.”
Things that I swore I would never do:
1. Let my kids run around a restaurant while we were trying to eat. Sorry, fellow diners, but sometimes I just run out of duct tape.
2. Turn my car into a moving landfill. Believe me when I say that I never intended to allow my personal vehicle to become a repository for wrappers, stray Cheerios and the odd orange peel. I didn’t like it when I started smelling spoiled fruit, realized the kids had just pitched fruit I’d given them into the cargo hold when they didn’t feel like eating it. But, when your kids are little, you’re just so darn tired all the time, especially if you’re a single mom. Certain things fall by the wayside, such as a sparkling clean car. I remember one friend sitting in my passenger seat a dozen years ago, looking around and making a snide remark about how maybe I should clean it up. This did sting, but I got my satisfaction a few years later, when she was hauling a toddler around and her car looked just as bad.
3. Fall asleep at 9 p.m. I used to be the kind of gal who could stay up all night working on an art project, but not any more. I know lots of parents who look forward to putting their kids to bed so they can have a little “me time.” Unfortunately, I was always so exhausted after the tucking-in, the story and the glass of water, my “me time” generally consisted of falling into bed with my clothes on and snoring until daybreak, at which point my charming daughter would jump on me, excited to herald the new day.
4. Let my kid wail in the supermarket. Yes, it’s embarrassing to watch other people glare at you. But, as you know if you’ve ever cared for a child, sometimes you don’t have time and you just have to power on…