Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Praise of OPP - Other People's Parenting

I spent some time this morning with my friend Erin. Something that I don't do often enough. Erin is the mother of three boys under the age of five, is working on her doctorate degree and is a beautiful, patient, funny and smart girl. Perhaps I don't spend as much time as I should with her because she is bad for my self-esteem...but I digress....

We were having yet another ill-fated play-date. Ill-fated because Jack, even at almost four years old, still does a lot of parallel play. And that is a best-case scenario. Worst case is he doesn't want to be around other kids at all.

My Bellas all do a wonderful job of handling this and not taking it personally. Their kids are all fantastic and go on their merry ways. I, however, get 27 kinds of embarrassed and frustrated. Even if Jack doesn't want to play with our hosts, I thin k he should remain, you know, in the same zip code.

Erin, in a true stroke of mothering genius, hit on a moment of bliss this morning. She brought out seven old time 50-cent water pistols and let all of us - moms and kids - go at each other. Before I describe the kids of joy and release this brought to all of us, I feel the need to for the disclaimer that both Erin and I are usually staunch anti-guns-as-toys for our kids. Since these were a) bright pink and purple, b) see through and c) we both had them as kids and didn't turn out to be mass murderers, we thought they might be OK. Also, we are the mothers of boys, who eventually turn EVERYTHING into a gun anyway (if you are the mother of girls, trust me on this. I have seen boys turn a Barbi legs, baby bottle and a Tickle Me Elmo all into semi-automatics, but again, I digress...)

The moment all of us were armed, it was a free for all. And once Jack understood that he could shoot me and he could retaliate when other kids shot him, there were gleeful squeals all around. None so loud as mine. Here was a chance to get my little stinker square in the back of the head with a cold burst of water - and have him laugh about it - GENIUS! I felt like I was getting frustration out and having fun with him all at once. Did I feel a little evil? Oh, most definitely. Did I feel about 1000% better afterward? Indubitably.

Now I know Why Erin is the one working on her doctorate. She really IS smarter than the rest of us. She takes it all is stride. I made the remark that I shudder to think what kind of monster I would be with three kids when I can;t even keep it together with the one I currently have. Erin;s parenting style is laid back and her kids are well behaved. Yes, we joke about her middle one, but he is "all boy" as our mothers would say, and she does a fine job with all of them - and her fourth boy - her husband. I am in awe of all of my friends and how they handle their parenting responsibilities and their relationships and, someone them, on top of that, careers.

Maybe I should really consider spending more time out there at Camp U. If only to suck up the Knowledge. I understand I can suck it up by osmosis - through water guns :)

6 comments:

Pam said...

I have two very close friends who are MUCH better parents than I am. It is easy to feel inadequate at times, but I decided to embrace my shortcomings and try my best to emulate them.

Tammy Howard said...

Sounds like a fun day!

And I've learned with mine, Chris - having a - challenging - child doesn't make you a bad parent. But I wouldn't believe that if I didn't have the second one to balance things out...

David said...

If you're interested in discovering your parenting style based on the latest research, please check out the Parenting Style Application by Signal Patterns on Parenting.com.

The underlying model developed by our team of psychologists reveals an underlying complexity far richer than just 'strict' or 'relaxed' classifications.

And what's particularly interesting is that you can take the test for a spouse and see where potential conflicts might lie and get advice on how to deal w/them. You can also compare results to your friends'.

Jenny Penny said...

I am going to drop a package in the mail for Jack. It will contain one Barbie leg, one baby bottle, one Tickle Me Elmo, and maybe an uncooked spaghetti noodle. He will be heavily armed.

Seriously, though, I suck up knowledge from my mother friends, too. I'm sure your friend has caught a few nuggest of wisdom from you when you weren't looking, too. ;)

mikespub said...

As the dad of three (who all survived my parenting), we make it up as you go. You look around, you steal ideas, embrace the constant adlib

Shannon Baskind said...
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