Monday, January 11, 2010

Too Many Moms

If you have more kids than hands, you'll encounter this sooner or later.

"Jason, it's time to start cleaning up!"
"Alyson, you're supposed to be cleaning, not sitting down!"
"Dillan, are you supposed to be eating that ice cream?"

You probably think these are standard parental phrases uttered by standard parental units. But, in our house, these are now part of the lexicon of a bunch of parent-wanna-be's, our kids. My phrases to counter this are "Do you really want my job?" or "Never mind what he/she's doing, what are YOU supposed to be doing?" or my two favorites for the boys, "Did you give BIRTH to him/her?" or "Since when did YOU grow breasts?"
It's gotten to the point where more time is spent parenting by the three oldest, than they actually do. The idea of parity has become a way to thwart progress in the household. If there is not an equitable sharing of the workload, a strike in the form of self appointing themselves the parental supervisor ensues. We wind up uttering those phrases we swore as new parents we would never utter: "Because I said so"; "Life's not fair"; "It doesn't matter what you think" and my personal favorite from Ralph Kramden in the Honeymooners "I am are nothing...a peasant"
As they get older, this parental tendency is also beginning to bleed over into conversations with and about Lin and me. They have somehow appointed themselves pseudo guardians of the girls and of each other, sharing with us their vast knowledge of how we should be. Don't get me wrong, I really don't mind when they chime in with advice like "You know dad, I don't think it's a very good idea that you let Gracie jump off the back of the couch with the parachute." (especially, if I did not know it was going on). But on subject matters about whether Gracie should be finishing her vegetables, or whether Dillan should be allowed out before finishing a task; well I'll fall back on the 'I'M the parent dammit!'. There's already two of us making decisions; we already have our own consciences to contend with thankyouverymuch. There are already too many voices inside my head questioning all my parental decisions; I don't need another chorus outside my head reminding me of all the alternatives and injustices of my decisions.

All this culminated last week when I found out two things. First, Aly invited Gracie into her room (a rare privilege, since even I am discouraged from entering). After looking around a bit, she said "We NEED to clean up in here". Later that day, Gracie was at the dinner table with Dillan. After hearing it so many times, Gracie made a great generalization and said "Dillan, DON'T tilt your chair back to the wall!". Another mom enters the fray!

The phrases Gracie said came straight from our mouths inflection and all. So, in one respect, it's part of the echolalia. But then again, ALL my kids are really just rehashing what they hear and regurgitating it back at us, based on what they perceive our morals and values to be. That's what is probably most annoying, they are right and they are using our own words and judgements against us. Just like 'you are what you eat'-- they are what you say and do. I forget that all too frequently and I'm glad Gracie reminded me...

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