Here is a favorite limeric of mine by an unknown author, “Mother may I go out and swim? Yes my darling daughter. Hang your clothes on yonder limb, but don’t go near the water.”
Among the many saying that I love (and by ‘love’ I really mean it makes me want to punch someone in the throat) one of my top favorites has to be, “We have different parenting styles.” I’m smart enough to decode that into, “I’m an awesome parent. You suck.”
I sure hope you and I parent differently. Because we have different children. Furthermore, unless one of us is doing something akin to holding a child in one hand and stirring a big pot of meth in the other, I think we probably all even out on our good skills and our sucktacular ones.
I have interesting children and I parent them accordingly. Like when my precious, then five-year-old, daughter had a loose tooth and was worried, “What happens if I swallow the tooth? Will the tooth fairy still leave money?” Because I’m such a great mom, I ran across the room like a maniac with my hands stretched out like claws yelling, “She will come into your room, RIP OPEN YOUR STOMACH, and take the tooth out, MUAHAHAHA!!”
Yeah, we probably have different parenting styles. Just so you know, Girl Child laughed her little heiney off at that and had no fears or worries about it after that. I parent appropriately for the ghoulish little trolls that I birthed. My children would likely be bored silly (and murder) lovely, calm, textbook parents.
One thing that draws the most criticism from others about my own personal parenting style (and I know the above story will go over like lead swim trunks) is the fact that I am neurotically overprotective. And by neurotic, I mean that I would have my children wear helmets and mouth guards during recess if it would be allowed. I’ve spent much of the last 10 years desperately trying to outwit the consant fear that ‘tragedy’ is the shadow following my children as they go through life. I panic when they are around large bodies of water. I forbade latex balloons in my house while I had children under 3 years. I still fear hotdogs (although I no longer pre-masticate them in bizarre penguin-parent fashion.) When my son was a newborn I slept in the nursery with my glasses on so that at every grunt, burp, or sigh I could see from across the room that he was still breathing. By the time Girl Child came around, almost 4 years later, I paid $200 for the matress monitor that detects breathing motions of your baby and sounds an alarm if all movement stops. Someone of normal sound mind told me, “You know that won’t help save her; it just tells you when she’s dead.” To which I responded, “Well then I’m damn well going to enjoy my sleep while I know she’s still alive!”
I come by it honestly, there was no escaping it. When my father was about the age of my kids, his family moved into a house with a giant walnut tree in the backyard. He and his two siblings were advised by my Granddad to wear helmets while playing under that tree in case a walnut were to fall on their heads. See… It’s genetic.
I might be messing up my children for life. Maybe they will grow up to be scared, fearful, neurotic adults. To be perfectly clear, it’s only the words ‘grow up’ that I’m worried about there. As long as I get them to adulthood alive, intense psychotherapy will sort out the rest. So please just put a quarter in a jar everytime you are annoyed about the fact that I bathe my children in antibacterial gel, and label the jar ‘The Rhea Children’s Therapy Fund.”
I wrote my own limerick to be prepared for when a child of mine wants to cut the proverbial umbilical cord: “Mother may I have some fun? Yes my little louse. Go see everything under the sun. Just don’t leave the house!”