I usually try to keep things pretty positive on the blog, but in honor of spring break, giant puddles of melted snow, Jesus and the Easter Bunny, I'm going to indulge in one of my favorite activities: complaining about stuff that irritates me. It's Bad Attitude Week here at The Hometown Tourist, and I'm going to engage in what I like to call rage training, which is like emotional cardio in that it raises your heart rate for a bit so your resting state can be more zen.
Today's topic is: Five Things I Hate About the Way We're "Supposed" to Do Parenting. This is my little list of bourgeois parenting norms that seemed to be designed to take the wind out of my sails just in case I was enjoying my children too much. Didn't you know that parenting was supposed to be the hardest and most rewarding job you'll ever have? I'm sorry, I thought I was just having a relationship with these neat little humans that I made from scratch in my uterus. If it's supposed to be a job, I want to renegotiate my compensation package. Anyway without further ado:
1. Screen Time: Look, if you want to limit the amount of time your kids spend with computers, video games, and TV, do what you think is best, but do we have to make up a stupid name for it, and then use it like we all agree to treat technology like some sort of controlled substance. (Only, of course, when it comes to our kids, though. How many hours of "screen time" did you have today?) It is true that we don't know what the long-term effects of so much interaction with technology will be, but why do we have to assume all of them will be bad? People had the same reaction to television when I was growing up, and yet we all seem to be decent and terrible in equal measures the same as any other generation. Humans adapt. Relax.
2. Play Dates: One of the reason I had so many children is so they'll always have someone to play with around the house. I also think that children should be able to play in their neighborhoods and you shouldn't have to drive your kids somewhere to play or call up and make appointments with people you wouldn't talk to for any other reason. Why do we have to micromanage all the little details of our children's lives? I am their mother, not their social secretary. The only time I make special arrangements for my kids to play with other kids is if it's their birthday or if I also want to hang out with those other kids' parents.
3. School Projects: I do not think that children should be assigned homework that they cannot complete on their own. I think that my role with homework should be as back-up helper when they get stuck, but it is their homework, not my homework. Here's why I hate school projects that clearly require parental support: 1) It puts kids whose parents aren't able to help them at a disadvantage 2) I passed fourth grade thirty years ago, I don't need to do it again 3) I don't remember giving my kids' teachers permission to schedule my time in addition to my children's. 4) I actually like to do things with my kids, but I like us to decide what those activities will be without deadlines, grades or other methods of outside accountability that TOTALLY RUIN EVERYTHING.
4. Reading Logs: I have been an avid reader all my life. I was a freakin' English major. We have shelves full of books and boxes in closets of books that don't fit on our shelves. Ellis and Charlie started reading before their fourth birthdays. We read, okay, we read. But nothing spoils reading more than having to read twenty minutes a night and write it down on a little sheet and turn it into your kid's teacher. Some nights, when the book is good, you want to read for hours. Other nights, you want to make milkshakes or completely destroy your children by letting them look at screens for hours and hours while you write a blog post on your own little screen. Just stop it with the reading logs. Making reading a chore never made anyone love books.
5. Picture Day: I hate the crappy ugly pictures that these "professional" photographers take of my kids and I don't appreciate having to spend money on them. I take beautiful portraits of my kids on a weekly basis that reflect them in a way that only someone who knows them as well as I do can. And yet, my kids will feel sad if they don't get to participate in picture day like everyone else, so alas, I write that damn check. And why is picture day twice a year now? You win, Lifetouch, you win.