Funny Business of Parenting: Unpopular parents, stay strong
I am not always the most popular person in the house. In fact, at this very moment, it is highly likely that someone I birthed is stabbing a pin into a voodoo doll with my face on it. This is probably because I mentioned toilet cleaning day.
Being an outcast in one’s own home isn’t pleasant, particularly with increased pandemic togetherness. There’s nothing quite like the stress and tension of dramatic young folk glaring evilly and trudging around the house in mild discontent. Yes, it is lonely at the top.
But being unpopular does result in some rejuvenating alone time. To stay strong, I break out my chocolate stash and wait it out. The peace and quiet can last a good long while, especially if I’ve been involved in multiple acts of being “unfair, mean” and “too strict” like – gasp – turning off a computer. Oddly, they don’t always appreciate my good parenting – I know this for sure when they slip a list of grievances under my door. It is signed by a lawyer, who is also the older child, in private practice since she was 6.
Tempting as it is to succumb and score points with the most adorable members of the household, we must stay vigilant. Otherwise, the little weasels could catch a weak parent off-guard.
The following are some of the best, most desperate lines heard in my own home, designed to woo me into compliance. I am not making them up. Also, I didn’t buy any of them. If I did, I might have been more popular.
· Questionable Politeness: “I’m deeply sorry that I am unable to do that at this time. I do hope to contribute my services at some point in the future.”
· Solid Research Skills: “A study in Australia showed that this game improves mental function.” And: “Too much bathing can cause dry skin issues.”
· Feigning Middle-Age: “I forgot. Now where is my pencil? Wait, what were we discussing?”
· Fabricated Illness: “I’ll do it later when I’m feeling better, but first, a trip to the ER may be necessary.”
· Suspicious Sweet Talk: “I love being with you and I can’t imagine a life without you. Also, you’re such a snazzy dresser.”
· Exhilarating Theater Performance: “You are ruining my life. And for what? Isn’t there enough heartache in the world already?”
Yes, a parent must have patience. After all, these children we had because there was nothing good on TV at the time will possibly grow up one day and not be such poopy heads. This is my professional opinion. Also, there is scientific evidence that kids can’t be in a huff forever because they need parents in the right frame of mind to buy them mind-sapping electronic toys.
Children are hard-wired to demand and complain. Also, it’s in their job description. In fact, it is likely in a hidden contract that they signed at birth when we weren’t looking. But this doesn’t mean they can have doughnuts for lunch. They probably don’t even want to have them, even if they’re begging so loud the neighbors can hear.
The truth is, after re-thinking it, I would like to have doughnuts for lunch. But since I already said no, I can’t go back. If I do, how will they ever learn to respect authority, follow through on commitments or understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them? I don’t know, but what I do know is that ever since the doughnut incident, I’ve had an awful craving for doughnuts.
Of course, some issues are more important than others and at times, it may behoove a parent to say yes or indulge in some thoughtful negotiating. For example, a foot rub in exchange for a bedtime extension could be reasonable if you are a sucker like me.
But for those certain laws of the land, one can only hope that while they may not get it now, they will thank you one day for standing firm. I am hoping for a show of appreciation in the form of a second home on a tropical island. Finally, I’ll be popular.
Pam J. Hecht is a writer, instructor and mother of two (but not necessarily in that order). Reach her at email@example.com or pamjhecht.com.