Thursday, 15 March 2012

The kind of parent I want to be #1: The absolutes

I'm in the process of digesting this article/blog by Kara Gebhart Uhl called "Apologies To The Parents I Judged Four Years Ago." As I go along, I'm wondering if I will feel the same way some years down the road, my child's hand in mine.

Nearly everyone around me knows how much I dislike children. More to the point, dealing with children who ask too many questions, are too hyper, are too anything. Even my friends' kids took a while for me to get used to. Once, I was so happy to be sick and have an excuse to tell a friend's child to go away. The child is rather sickly and catches viruses easily so the distaste for having her watching over my shoulder as I worked was vaguely masked by concern. Obviously I didn't want her to get sick but more to the point, I didn't want her looking over my shoulder. Or be anywhere near me. Her mother knows this, of course, and we still have a good laugh over the whole episode.

This may confuse people knowing how much I want to establish being a wife and mother as my primary priority in life. I have, actually, given this thought a great deal of consideration.

I agree with a lot of the things she mentioned. There are simply some things that are easier to said when one is childless and things that are easier to accept once one has a child. I already know some things like parenthood isn't going to be 100% wonderful 100% of the time and that each parent goes through a unique set of mistakes and errors per child.

There are things I know I absolutely, 100% wouldn't tolerate. Tantrums, for one thing.

I  loathe tantrum-y kids, I really do. With a vengeance, I loathe them. I loathe tantrum-throwing children so much that I use it as a form of entertainment, watching a child throw a tantrum, my favourite story involving my then three-year-old brother-in-law who threw a hissy fit at me, kicked and screamed at me as I sat beside him and watched him put on his show. It took him about three minutes to realise he wasn't getting anywhere with me--or he just got tired--so he stopped wailing and left me chuckling as he walked away.

Do I hear moans of "Poor baby!" in the audience? Some? Okay, sure, I'll let you have that. I will point out, however, that ever since that moment, he has been nothing but the sweetest little boy to me and I can count more fun moments with him than annoying, tantrum-throwing ones. Just saying.

See, I grew up as the only child in a household filled with at least six adults. And to the credit of all six adults, they spoke to me using words that can actually be found in either Webster's or the Oxford dictionary. I've never once heard that I threw a tantrum. The closest thing, perhaps, was when I cried and probably yelled angrily at my godmother for eating the last bit of sweet potato that I left in the fridge. Never mind that it was almost rotten. It was my sweet potato and she ate it without asking permission.

My mother probably deserves the most credit for this. Although her sternness usually scared me, she also explained to me, after we'd both calmed down, what was wrong with what I did and why. She made me understand and forced me to think for myself and learn how to amend my own shortcomings.

So that's #1 I will not tolerate tantrums. And I know that as long as I do it right, there will be no tantrums directed at me (Exhibit A: my brother-in-law, Exhibit B: my little cousins to whom I've always given a firm and resounding "No" if I absolutely refuse to give in to their demands.) Hopefully others who might later surround my child will support this training so no tantrums will be directed at them either.

Obnoxious item #2 Prams. Those huge, huge prams that get in people's way. I know I detest those too and I detest you, parents, who subject people like me to the hurdles, mazes and big wheels that those things create and have.

I've told my husband several times over "I want to avoid doing things with our kids that I, as a person who dislikes children, find obnoxious when we're out."

I know parents out there will say "Oh you'll give up on that quickly" but that is one of the things I swore I would really avoid. Again, with a vengeance.

A baby sling is more my speed. I know the baby will eventually become heavier and heavier and it will be hard and tiring to constantly carry that extra weight but I try and think of it positively.

First, it's like, well, lifting weights. A nice, lovable, was once part of my own body kind of weight.

Second, and I read it somewhere on the Ask Dr. Sears website, that carrying the child constantly not only promotes bonding, but it also gives the child more over-all stimulus since the parent (carrier can be mum or dad) is essentially making the child an audience-member to day to day activities.

Third, and I believe this is the best reason to use these things, it doesn't get in anyone's way. It's the main reason I detest prams. And is it just me, or do they get bigger and bigger each year?

Oh right, they do get bigger and bigger each year because I seem to see more and more parents letting their four-year-old child ride in a pram instead of walking. I must have seen children as old as six sitting in a pram instead of walking!

*freak out*

Lastly, kiddie fashion. Oh my goodness, the fashion.

I've been told that I look much younger than my actual years which is great when you're about to turn thirty--dangit, didn't I swear I wouldn't admit to how old I am somewhere else on this blog?--and I'm short. So when I see a child who's younger than me but taller by any fraction and wearing clothes that I actually wear? That freaks me out.

What happened to those cute pinafores and sundresses of my childhood? Why must they wear backless halter tops and mini skirts? Don't even get me started on their footwear. Especially you, Suri Cruise. You disgust me, truly, truly. Whether or not the insistence on wearing two-inch heels is true. The fact that you were five and wearing them already disgusts me. And your parents disgust me for letting you wear them.

I must confess that every time I see a child younger than thirteen wearing a heel or wedge taller than an inch, I keep hoping they trip and fall so I can point and laugh. I know, it's terrible of me. But honestly, I don't mind my child playing dress up with my clothes or my shoes. But sweetheart, you can bet your little buns that you're not wearing miniatures of my wardrobe. You are not Barbie. I'll let you play with her though.

So #3 No turning my child into a Barbie or a literal mini-me wearing exact replicas of my clothes. Or make-up for that matter. Only on special occasions, and just tinted lip balm at that.

I realise now that what I'm aiming for, really, is not so much to judge or to avoid being judged by others, parent or otherwise. What I want to avoid is annoying others who are like me and dislike children.

Think of it from the point of view of people who dislike children and consider that my dislike for them is a fairly shallow one as far as dislikes go.

It's bad enough that they have to be taken out to the mall to be fitted for clothes, shoes, and whatnot, buy school supplies, and once or twice a year you know you have to avoid the mall like the plague because it will be noisy and full of children running amok (I kid you not) for at least a week. But must they also act like the entire open floor space is a playground?

Parents, those play parks in the mall are not evil, I swear. A friend of mine routinely leaves her little boy there so she can shop in peace. If you can't stand that or feel it's not secure enough, at least please make sure that your kids don't get in my way while I'm browsing. They ruin the whole experience for me and I'm sure you've caught me scowling at your kid at least once or ten times. By the way, if I accidentally step on your kid's body parts or run them over as I rush towards the dressing room, I will maintain it's their fault for crossing my path.

I am fully aware of how terrible I can be towards children so I really want to be that kind of parent who doesn't cause people like me any reason to dislike my kids. As I've said earlier, parents are not perfect and will make mistakes, and each parent has a different way of dealing with things.

For this round, I'm choosing the battle a little more wisely. I'll just avoid doing things that would annoy me.

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