I’ve known it all along, that I would be the kind of mom who would take it easy with a lot of the rules associated with raising a child.
While my husband would disagree vehemently – since he is more slack than me, claiming that we all have ‘different standards’, still not realising that as parents we’d better sync our standards up pronto or suffer the consequences because we have deviously cunning demonspawn – I am actually very, very relaxed with our kids.
I don’t force them to finish their meals (I have tried in the past but you know what? It’s not worth the trouble and I have it on good authority it’s bad for them).
I don’t force them to learn.
They don’t really need to clean up at the end of the day because I don’t have the energy to clean up myself.
I still swear, and sometimes do so in front of them (by accident, of course), because you know what? A lady can’t be a lady all the time, much less a mom.
I still play video games and I let them play some every day.
Before you think me less than imperfect, I do have some rules.
I make sure they go to bed on time with a flexi hour allowance during the weekend. I make sure I read to them 30 mins a day. I make sure to floss and brush their teeth every evening myself. I enforce the max two hours a day of computer and tv time.
And by sheer miracle, they’re turning out fine. They are not rude children, and very rarely do they bite. I’d say these are very good kids by anyone’s standards.
Which is why I am at a loss when another kid is rude to mine.
The other day, at the park, I met the strangest child ever. She looked to be eight or nine, but her mother was still accompanying her up and down the play structure as though she was two. She may have been mentally handicapped or autistic but from my vantage point, on the grass munching grapes, you couldn’t tell these things. As far as I could’ve surmised, she was an ordinary grade-schooler – except for the overanxious parent at her side.
She was a hefty child, but very active, and ran around so quickly her poor mother could hardly keep up. There I was, sitting lazily on the grass while my own two littler children played, and this woman was huffing and puffing running around the structure cooing lovingly to her overgrown child to be careful.
Rae and Sky, as usual, were mucking around at the bottom of the twisty slide, trying to climb up it, when the girl had wanted to go down it. The mother started yelling at her not to do until my children had cleared off, which of course, they took their sweet time with. And so, I had to get off my fat ass and go make them. The girl stomped around above them impatiently, huffing and puffing like an animal, mumbling something I could not hear. Sensing all was not right, I barked at Rae to get her sister the hell off the slide RIGHT NOW. That, of course, worked, and Sky was barely off the damn thing before around 100lbs of child came thundering down the slide.
I stood watching the girl and her frantic mother (who did not apologise, by the way) go about their business, while Rae and Sky started to climb up the structure to have a turn at the slide. Sky decided it was too much trouble after the third rung and ran off to ride the bouncy animal thingies while Rae persevered. But before she could reach the slide, Miss Impatient pushed past her and got to it first.
As Rae started to approach the slide, the girl put her hand out.
“NO! GET AWAY!” she’d demanded.
Rae stood there looking at her, a little shocked.
The girl’s mother started to protest at the bottom of the slide.
Rae tried again to climb up to where the slide started, where the girl was standing, and again, the huge girl made a shooing gesture.
“BUGGER OFF I SAID!” she shouted.
Hmm, I thought. English.
The mother’s protesting instantly became louder, and Rae looked at me as though she’d been slapped. I stood where I was, about 20 feet away, by our things, not sure what to do next. Should I go rescue my daughter? She wasn’t in any kind of trouble. Besides, she didn’t look distressed at all, just kind of surprised at the whole thing.
Eventually, Miss Rude went down the slide into her mother’s arms, and the both of them ran off, mother after daughter, to the other structure to continue their reign of terror. Rae moved on.
While nothing untoward really happened, my daughter was shortly exposed to the word ‘bugger’. I’d hoped she did not catch it, but this is a girl who can remember the sequence of scenes after she watched The Sound of Music only once (“Mommy, the girl is going to meet her boyfriend!”). I didn’t ask her about it and she’d most likely forgotten the whole fiasco two seconds after.
I wondered then, on the way back, what I would’ve done if things had taken a turn for the worst. Would I have marched up to the lady and told her to keep a tighter rein on her child, handicapped or not? Would I have quietly escorted my children to a spot on the playground, far away from Attila the Hun? Would I have laughed about it with the mother in a “Ah, children. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them!” sort of way?
Honestly, I have no idea. I think about my children being bullied all the time, especially when I hear about my friends’ kids being strangled and pinched and beaten up at school. And yet, I have no prepared course of action if these things should take place, beyond having a talk with the teacher and most probably with the parent of the child. I myself have never been bullied, or bullied, anyone. Or I might’ve blocked these events out of my mind, who knows?
Slacker mom or not, these things happen. I guess the best course of action to take, even before these things take place, is to cross the bridge when you come to it.
At the rate things are going, I might have to deal with being the parent of the bully than the other way around.