Thursday, December 13, 2012

Discretion of a Parent

Brace yourselves this is going to be a long one!

Two unrelated events have happened in the past 24 hours that have led me to writing about this today.  I have to admit the topic has been floating around the back of my mind for quite some time.  It comes up every once and awhile so it feels right to bring it to fruition.  First I’ll briefly describe the events and then I’ll say my piece.

I might as well talk about the event that I don’t really want to bring up because it will make me look a little foolish.  I really don’t like looking foolish (yeah, who does, right?) so I’ll get it over and done with first.  It happened at my daughter’s preschool this morning.  Every Tuesday and Thursday I bring my daughter in for her classes.  There are 3 week periods that I have to bring my son along for the ride with me because my hubby is out of town.  It should be no big deal, I know that all over the world mom’s tote around younger siblings to these events all the time and everything is peachy, right?  Wrong.  My son is awful when going to my daughter’s school.  I can’t even blame him for being a weirdo because I feel so bad for the little tyke.  Since we packed up and moved across the country to a brand new area and a new life we don’t have any connections.  Therefore the only interaction that my kids get with other kids is through my daughter’s preschool and just recently both kids have started a once per week gymnastics program.  So as you can see very limited friends for the kids to play with.

When I take my daughter into her school there is a quick drop off and pick-up period.  I’m usually in and out of the building in less than 3 minutes.  That is unless I bring my son in with me.  The first three weeks I brought him in and out with me.  It was torture for the both of us (and I’m sure anyone within earshot, I think I may have mentioned in the past that my son’s scream rivals any girl’s).  You see there are about 3 other daycares that run in the same building as my daughter’s preschool.  They ask us to keep our kids all contained in the boot area, which is located in a huge gymnasium.  Usually the gym has dozens of screaming laughing kids that are playing with a tantalizing assortment of toys.  My son always wants to desperately to play in the big ride- inside-cars.  When I stop him and he discovers that he’s not allowed to go and play with the other kids he lays down on the ground and does the funky chicken.  You parents know the kind of temper tantrum I mean.  Laying on the ground, flailing all appendages and screaming like a banshee.  Even when you pick him up in this stage he just flops over and acts like a rag doll, but a really really HEAVY rag doll.  With him in tow it takes me roughly 15 minutes to try to get my daughter in or out of her gear all while trying to contain him.  Not very fun for anyone, except for the moms who have “angel children” they can gloat as I am trying to hold down Lucifer.

So after a brief discussion with both my husband and parents in trying to problem solve this issue someone suggested that I just leave him in the van, with our German Shepherd and the doors locked for the brief time it takes.  I was a little hesitant but remember vividly several times waiting in the car by myself as my parents did some short outings and nothing remotely bad ever happened.  We currently live in a pretty quiet town and the school is in an even quieter neighborhood.  I figured then it should be ok.  I’ve been lucky enough not to have to do it too often.  When my husband is home then it’s a non-issue, if my mom stays the night or another adult comes for the ride then again a non-issue.  I’ve found it extremely helpful when my son falls asleep when we go to pick my daughter up from school as he hates being woken up too early from his nap.  That was the exact same scenario this morning.  My son was passed out in the car seat and I went in to grab my daughter.  I was in line for  a little over one minute waiting for the class door open to retrieve my kid when one of the preschool teachers popped out of the room and came up to me and whispered that I had to go out and get my son immediately.  I ran out there expecting him to be crying or something to have happened.  The only infraction I could see in progress was that my dog was sitting on the front seat of my van barking for me to come back.  My son was still out like a light and nothing else indicating any disaster. 

When I returned into the school with my really miserable and tired son in tow I was a little confused but pretty sure that I was about to get a talking to.  I knew it was frowned upon but II however did not realize that it was law that you are not allowed to leave your children under 12 in the vehicle for any amount of time if it is not fully in your sight.  I would never leave my children in the car alone to go shopping or to do my banking or really any task where I didn’t feel 100% sure they would be ok.  The teachers were really apologetic.  They claimed that one of the daycare workers had reported it to them and they didn’t want me to get in trouble.  The main teacher said that it is now law and they had to put a protocol forth stating what they do in these situations.  I assured them it wouldn’t happen again but walked away a little ego bruised (I hate being in trouble) but more so upset thinking that I made a mistake and started to question my parenting.

Ok so scenario number two.  While scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook I came across a picture of a cover of a magazine I just recently saw while grocery shopping this week.  It’s one of those tabloid crap magazines, National Enquirer.  I’ve seen very similar covers to these magazines prior to this date, they’re the ones with pictures of movie stars not looking their best.  The headline is “More than 40 Best and Worst Beach Bodies,” WORST being the largest and most obvious word.  Attached to this picture on Facebook was a letter written by a school teacher admonishing Loblaws, a company that claims to be so community involved, for selling this magazine as it’s one of the most obvious forms of bullying.  The letter was quite well written; I agreed with its subject and thought some of the same exact things when I saw the magazine in person myself not 4 days earlier so I shared it to my page.  I’d like to point out that I’m not normally a “sharing” type of person.  I really use Facebook as a tool of communicating with friends and keeping in touch with family.  I’m not one to play games, like the 10 Billion sayings, try to save the world, or try to make a statement.  I find some of the stuff mildly entertaining and like to sit and relax during a quiet moment to catch up on any recent news with my acquaintances. 

The next day I got a surprising comment under my shared post from a person I have quite a lot of respect for.  This person usually provides some good argument, even though we don’t always see eye to eye, but none the less he can normally come up with valid reasons for supporting his argument.   I was really only surprised because it didn’t seem like a thing he’d normally comment on.  In his comment he stated
“...Teach your kids to respect themselves and fluffy magazines & bullying will be less of an issue… I just get sick of everyone's attitude when it comes to parenting..."the world will raise my kids while I'm shopping for cocoa puffs and checking my twitter." 
I left some of his comment out but he made valid points about Loblaws selling themselves by claiming to be community orientated but how they also turn a profit off of said magazines, so they’re not going to stop and that’s just business. I want to point out it came across as a little harsh at first but it’s not totally what he meant  which he said in his next round of comments. He summarized by saying
 “...I'd love to i see this garbage done away with as well… As long as people are buying this rubbish, they'll sell it. I just think a lot of people reading that post will say "yeah, it's your fault my kids are bullying /getting bullied" and pass it off as something they can't control. The Blame Others mentality is rampant within our selfish society. 
I’d like to point out that he did not once imply that my husband and I were negligent; in fact he said we were great parents. 

This is what got me to thinking.  Two seemingly unrelated subjects now brought together a point for me. 

This tabloid magazine made me sad when I spied it myself last week.  I thought wow I’ll never be able to protect my daughter from society or from herself through those years.  She’s going to have to go through it all on her own to get to this point.   Being the most amazing parent isn't going to make your children immune to peer pressure and self image issues.  You see my parents were also great parents.  My mom is about the least bothered by peer pressure person I know.  Sure she is not totally immune, she’s still polite when it’s needed and doesn’t go out in public dressed in rags but she really doesn’t put a lot of precedence of what other people are thinking or doing and doesn’t need the latest and greatest fad to make her feel fantastic.  Even having my mom as my mentor and guide throughout high school all her values and teachings were barely heeded as I was going through my own teenage hell.   It took me quite some time to be comfortable in my own skin.  I am fairly practical about it now but society still plays a role in how I parent and how I think. 

 I spent over a year trying to toilet train my daughter.  I tried every trick of the trade, worked my ass off trying to accomplish this one task, NOTHING worked. After just one day in her preschool, after just one short 3 hour stint of peer pressure she buckled.  She began without another incident using the toilet consistently every day after.  Yes I realized that this time it worked to my advantage (and hers) this but I know that it won’t always work in our favor. We can pretend that society ISN'T going to play some role in raising our children but that would be foolish. Why do you wear certain types of clothing? Why do you buy a certain brand of shoes or even decorate your belongings with logo stickers of specific companies? It's a status thing. You might not be continuously worried about self-image but you have still been somewhat "parented" by society.

I have been thinking about other ways that society is parenting not only our children but ourselves.  I am not condoning my actions today or trying to defend leaving my son in the car.  I’ve re-evaluated the situation and I know in my heart of hearts that if something bad ever happened to my son when there was something I could have done to prevent it I would have been devastated.  My hubby assures me I wasn’t putting him in harm’s way at all and that I shouldn’t beat myself up about it; but it never hurts to self-reflect.   What really confuses me and I’ve done a bit of research since being home today, I also found out they condone a child being alone in the house unsupervised at 10 years old in the province of Nova Scotia as long as the parents feels the child is mature enough and is safe but can also be charged by law under the governments discretion if they feel the child doesn’t meet this criteria. That’s a double edged sword.  It’s ok to leave them at home if you think the kid is mature enough unless the government doesn’t; sounds shady to me.  Then you have to wait until the child is 12 to leave them in the car, is the car so much more dangerous than the home?  Who comes up with these ages and who’s discretion are we talking about?

I am concerned that the laws are starting to make it so parent’s hands are tied behind their backs when it comes to raising your children.  There are laws being put in place so it will be illegal to spank your children.  I 100% am against abuse but a swat to the butt to remind a child where their boundaries are is a tried and true method of discipline.  I don’t care what the books say, I always thought twice about doing anything too bad because I knew it would end up with a hand whacked on my backside.  Kids today don’t seem to know their place anymore and parents are afraid to be parents.  How many screaming kids do we see in Supermarket aisles today compared to when we were children or when our parents were children and everyone had a ton of kids (Baby Boomers)?  I don’t even want to get started about giving children awards for just participating in events and not winning, what does that teach them about real life?  Absolutely NOTHING.

There are laws about whether or not you can marry the same sex, maybe not in Canada anymore but there are still several people that hold true to this belief that it’s evil.  This was one of the main topics of discussion in the current USA Presidential Election (and don’t tell me that just because it’s a different country doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold influence on us in Canada at all).  How can something be evil if it’s not harming other people?  People are still fighting this issue so adamantly.  If consenting adults choose to smoke marijuana which doesn’t result in hurting anyone else or put others at risk then why is it illegal when cigarettes and alcohol are not?  I just found out that it’s illegal to hunt on a Sunday in Nova Scotia…I mean really?  I get that some people are religious but a law???  Talk about government putting morals onto people that are not shared by everyone. 

The letter attached to the magazine cover picture was just asking for some accountability from Loblaws. Of course they are profiting and using it as a marketing advantage but if you're going to talk the talk people are going to expect you walk the walk. I may not be standing on the local grocery store steps with pitch forks and knives but I have seen how one small action can create a landslide. If I can add a little here and there to something that holds my beliefs then I'm going to state it. Like I said I don't share things often on my page and this one caught my eye.

What is parenting?  I think it’s the teaching of your morals and how to stand up for yourself and beliefs, giving tools to use as a guide through life, providing for physically and mentally.  I’m not sure how to do that in today’s society.  Do I teach them my morals or teach them the morals society has put in for me and made law, even if I don’t believe in them?  What tools do I use to do this if all the tools I’ve been taught have been taken from me?   It’s not enough to just put a roof over their head or nourish their bodies or spend every pay cheque earned for their comfort.  It’s not enough to sacrifice every waking moment to their happiness or their well-being.   Maybe they can write us a book, tell us exactly what we should do to parent our kids in every situation so we don’t have any say anymore.  Who needs discretion of the parents when the government can do it for you? 

I bet they would allow the sales of the crap magazines because they probably line the right pockets with valuable cash.   Even if a parent doesn’t agree with my point of view and everything I’ve written in my blog screams to them I’m an awful parent and I should just follow the laws as they are written because they are sound and just.  I understand that there are several good laws that are there to protect our children but where do you draw the line?  What if the pages were turned and it was me writing these laws.  Would you not like a say on how to parent your own children in your own way?  Maybe it’s time to start a landslide?

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