So I made a really off the cuff, maybe one word tisk the other day, to a friend of mine, but what she said back is just digging in my craw.
I don’t even remember the details of what she said, something, maybe a swear word, maybe an inappropriate comment, in front of her young son. I just instinctively, even subconsciously made that noise. That mothering, finger-wagging, “don’t say that.” Like when you glare at your big brother cause he keeps saying the ‘F’ word in front of your neighbor’s daughter ya know??
Her response was, “He’s my kid.” Her statement was equally off-handed and she walked away and life went on. But I can’t seem to forget it.
Yes, he’s your kid, we all have our kids, but does that give us the right to just screw them up in whatever fashion we see fit? That’s my car out in the driveway too, but driving it into a wall would be pretty dumb right?
As long as you ride on the thin line, avoiding ‘neglect’ and ‘abuse,’ is parenthood just an ambiguous license to sculpt and dress-up and experiment with the freedom of it?
I guess I shutter at the huge opportunity and responsibility people seem to be missing, avoiding or just ignoring. After years of soaking up the world, the ugliness, the mistakes…after observing and learning and taking mental notes, we get our very own child, to pass this knowledge on to. Yes, the ‘kid’ is mine, but someday he’ll belong to the world and whatever he becomes, is on me! Isn’t it? We know a lot…usually close to twenty years of life is lodged in our heads and to not use that, to not project and inject and give that gift to our kids is just… irresponsible. Isn’t it?
Obviously whatever my friend did or said was not a big deal and is not the point. It was that sentence, that total resolve that he was hers to pollute in any way she saw fit, as long as his clothes are clean and his belly is full and she “loves” him. You always hear bad parents, on talk shows, soap operas…. “but I LOVE my kids!” Ok lady, people smother the cats they love all the time. Maybe your kind of love is toxic. I think we are responsible for more than that.
More than love? Is she nuts? (of course I am…is this your first read?)
YES! More than love. You owe them your lessons, your best. YOUR BEST! Forgetting to watch your freakin’ mouth is not your best! Really? You can’t just refrain from profanity…for YOUR kid? You can’t just cut back on cigarettes and buy something besides Top Ramen, for YOUR kid? Step away from the cell phone Mommy.
Yes, they’re OURS. Shouldn’t we be announcing that with pride, with substance and priority? Instead…it’s a free pass?
“He’s my kid.” So I get to do whatever. Really?
It’s 4am, so clearly I’ve been thinking about this, thinking of other parents I know and if this is just the norm and I missed it. I’d say it’s about 50/50…but the ones clinging to the ‘mine’ theory are really bummin me out. It’s like, to justify their character flaws, their lack of class, their mistakes…. “I’ll show them. I’m going to make my kids just like me, any way I want!” Really?
I feel like I am constantly working on my daughter, my kids, being better. Better than me, better than the world, better than my parents. I’m no helicopter mom and I don’t demand honor roll and military sheets or anything, but I tell them stories about life, I get out of bed, I show them what sushi is.
Better for having been here.
How boring and sad to just duplicate our hiccups.
Thank God I’m a writer. What do other people do with these things? 😉