Overheard in a class today:
Jamie: You are so nice Leslie!
Leslie: I’m not; it’s just that I don’t like to make people do things that they don’t want to do.
Jamie: Really? Cause I LOVE making people do things that they don’t want to do! (said in jest of course as Jamie is a really nice person.)
Me from across the room, unable to resist such a great set up: Well Jamie, you are going to make a great mom some day. You just gave us the Mom job description.
All the moms and non-moms start laughing; a few Amens also heard.
Ok, I know discipline is a dirty word now; we choose instead to model, instill, and let our children explore their world without boundaries. Unfortunately some of them explore their way into screaming temper tantrums, sassy behavior, broken valuables, lipsticked walls, and unadulterated self-centeredness.
Grownups when and why did we give up control? Did we watch too many episodes of Leave it to Beaver, and somehow miss that Ward Cleaver was kind but also strict? Did we overreact to strict parents and go too far the other way? I for one cringe every time I hear parents (usually Dads for some reason) call their son Buddy or their daughter Princess, and hope that I can appeal to the next generation to reconsider this bad habit by the 30-40 year old set.
Buddy first: Your child does not need you to be their friend or their buddy; at least not yet. Sure you will be their provider, their protector, their advocate, and their teacher. You will love them with unreasonable, irrational parental love. And all of that is wonderful and as it should be. But they need you to be the grownup, the benevolent dictator if you will. Like it or not-you are the authority figure. You get to decide lots of things without a vote (even though you sometimes offer choices). You are not at all their peer, although you can be friend and peer later on (in thirty years).
And now Princess: Princess, seriously? Do you want a small tyrant telling all the quivering grownups what to do? Why give that much power to a young skull of mush? Why encourage her to be bossy and narcissistic at such a young age? There is plenty of time for that later when she becomes a teenager and assumes (temporarily we hope) the persona of some pop icon who makes fun of hard-working, sensible grownups. If it happens then, you can throw up your hands and say “She did not learn that from us, I can assure you.”
Some of you are saying I am overreacting–what’s in a name? What’s in a name? I’ll tell you DUMBO! Excuse me, did I say Dumbo? (And was it in all caps?) What I meant to say is, I’ll tell you, dear readers. And my point is made.
So whether or not you are comfortable with your new position of power-get used to it. You cannot be a friend just yet, and you certainly are not their loyal subject, nor should you ever be. You have been entrusted with this little one who, although he or she cannot say it, is counting on you to make good decisions about their well-being, and stick to your guns.
Prepare to be misunderstood, unpopular, and unappreciated at times; it is all part of the deal (but in thirty years…) And join me in helping remove Buddy and Princess from the most popular nicknames for kids list.
If Kids Could Tell You What They Need
I love that you’re my Daddy,and I love that you’re my Mom,
Even though you call me Buddy, I should never call you Tom.
For I need an actual grownup to show me what to do
I have lots of little buddies; most are sitting in their poo.
I love that you’re my Daddy, and I love that you’re my Mom
Even though you call me Princess, I don’t deserve all the aplomb.
I’m just a little person who needs to learn from you.
I couldn’t rule a kingdom; I can barely tie my shoe.
Feel free to be the grownups and one day we will say
It didn’t really hurt us to learn how to obey.
We might have given dirty looks as you tried to be our mentor
But we learned that we weren’t born to be the universe’s center.
And now we can be friends, (though I still am not a Princess.)
It was great to have some parents whom I did not see at recess.
One day we will learn how to help our own kids grow.
We will call them Son and Sweetie, and stand firm when tempers blow.
They may not always like us, but they’ll one day understand,
That regardless of our feelings, we couldn’t act like fans
We had to do what’s right; which meant our saying no
Because we care so much, Buddy & Princess had to go.