Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Being 'The One' Who's Mean and, Apparently, Power-Mad

Image credit: Comics Kingdom/Oregonian
“Why do you have to be the one?”

That’s what a child of mine – who shall remain nameless -- asked me recently when said individual was railing against me, the power-mad, all controlling mother who'd said, "No," to something the person requested. Over the past few weeks, here are the questions two of the Picket Fence Post kids have asked me this person wanted to know was:

Why do I have to work? (Two of my children gripe about the fact hat I’m not as available as “the other moms” who volunteer in the schools, constantly arrange play dates for their kids and sign their offspring up for as many sports and activities as the children desire. Meanwhile, I can barely get the kids to their sports practices on time, feed them, oversee their homework and do my own work.)

Why do I make the family go to church? (Our Christian-Jewish family attends a Unitarian Universalist church where the Picket Fence Post kids – two of ‘em anyway – are practically dragged kicking and screaming into Sunday school each week. They think that my forcing them to go to church is, like, totally unfair and mean.)

Why don’t I drive the kids to school/pick them up every day like other parents? (Whenever possible, I have the kids take the school bus. It's simply more convenient. However because they have to be at school early – meaning before the bus would arrive at the school – for various activities, The Spouse or I already drive them to school three mornings a week.)

Why do I buy “only healthy” foods and try to avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats when “no one else's mother” does? (I’m constantly accused of depriving my children of sweets and being a wild-eyed health nut. Me! The one who’s addicted to coffee and has an unhealthy attachment to barbecue potato chips. When I pointed out to the child who was asking me this question that, during the course of the week in which this statement was uttered, I’d made apple crisp served it with ice cream, bought a second gallon of ice cream, purchased Mint Milanos, snickerdoodle cookies and Cheez-Its, the kid replied, “Well those don’t count.” Why didn’t those foods count? Because all the sweets/snacks had already been consumed when the kid said this, except for the vanilla ice cream, and the complainer didn’t feel like having vanilla ice cream.)

Why don’t I allow the children to have unfettered access to the internet and computers in their rooms like “all the other kids at school?” (The kids can use a family laptop computer as long as they do so in a common area of the house – like the kitchen or dining room – and there’s a parental control on it which, I must say, is a pain in the neck as I'm constantly having to "approve" sites. In instances when they’ve wanted to go on YouTube -- which gets blocked, they’ve had to do it with me or The Spouse overseeing it. This makes me/us overprotective, hovering freak(s), apparently.)

Why do I limit their TV watching/video game playing? (We have a so-called “TV hour” on weekdays, timed to occur when I’m making dinner and don’t feel like dealing with the inevitable gripes about what I’m cooking. However they’ll keep watching/playing long after the hour has elapsed, waiting for me to tell them to turn it off. Even if it’s been in excess of an hour, I still get griping or pleas of, “Oh Mom, just let me finish this level” or “But we just started this show!”)

Why won’t I let them have cell phones when “tons of other kids” in their school have them? (I’ve told them that when they’re going to be in locations where they will have to spend time alone, without adult supervision, or if they have to walk long distances alone, I’ll get – or loan them – cell phones. So far, there hasn’t been a need for them. When they’ve taken walks with the dog, I've let them borrow my phone. This unreasonable, irrational anti-cell phone stance means that I’ve destroyed their street cred and made it impossible for the other kids to text them.) This last question was the subject of today’s Pajama Diaries comic which made me laugh when I saw it this morning.

Sometimes being “The One” who places all these restrictions on the kids feels pretty lonely, especially when they make me sound like just this side of Attila the Hun. I just hope that, once they're older, they'll get that I was trying to do what I thought was right for them, not act like a power-mad dictator. Believe me, it's not because it's fun being "The One." It'd be much easier for me to say, "Yes" to most of these things instead of enduring their criticisms all the time as they sometimes wish aloud that one of the "other" sainted mothers that their friends have were their mom.

Image credit: Pajama Diaries via Oregonian/Comics Kingdom.

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