Dear Kids, Stop Ratting Me Out!
I’m not saying I’m not guilty of giving my kids all these things, but I’m looking at how folks are turning out these days and I’m just not impressed. Kids today get given every damn thing they want and have the emotional baggage to show for it. Y’all do what you want with your own kids, but as far as mine are concerned, they DO NOT NEED any of the below from you, me or anybody else….
Adults like to win immediate affection from children by bringing them a “little something,” and the easiest “little something” is usually a candy, cookie or cupcake of some sort. I was the deprived child of a health-crazed mother, so I try to act like a normal person and let my children have dessert, but the sweets have gotten out of hand. My daughter’s Valentine’s mailbox looked like a bag of Halloween candy, and her Halloween bag looked like an exploded piñata. And piñatas? Well, you are basically required to have an explosion of multi-flavored sugar shaped like a Disney character at every single birthday party. Look, I know how fun it is to present a surprise cupcake to a child and watch their little eyes light up with joy and disbelief. I know because that’s my trick. Chances are I have already let them lick the chocolate off the top of a donut to get them to stay in the cart for a Target trip, I’ve definitely already given them a lollypop to hold them still during a haircut, and sometimes they bring home a container of Tic Tac’s because by the time we get to the register at the grocery store I just can’t take it anymore! But I’m the parent, I have to bribe them regularly to get anything done. If outsiders are using the same tricks I will lose all my power. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, long-distance friends and kindly neighbors with grown children, please understand, you’ve got to get them to love you for an hour or two, maybe once a week. I’ve got to get them to love me 24/7 so back the hell up off my treat card, it’s the only play I have left !
Let me get this straight- you want me to spend two months planning some lavishly themed party in my home or pay $30 a head for you to jump in a pit of foam balls, feed you lunch and cake, and then send you home with a bag of prizes for my trouble? Hell-to-the-no! Listen here you greedy little mongrels, I had two- count them- two birthday parties my entire childhood (thanks to my mother and her arbitrary rule-making), and the most those entailed was a homemade sheet cake and some relay races in the backyard. So the way I see it, you can spend your Saturday afternoon cleaning your room and raking the yard, or you can spend it at a party eating cake and playing laser tag with your friends. Freedom from household chores should be “goody bag” enough for you. Kids need a bag full of candy like they need a whole in their head (see item #1 above), and I don’t want another bag full of crap from the dollar store to be found in unidentifiable bits at the bottom of the toy box in a week. Any child that comes up to me at the end of a birthday party with their hand out is going to get nothing more than a high-five, cause guess what? It’s not your damn birthday!
My daughter has two trophies on her dresser of which she is immensely proud. The first she received after a season of soccer in which she spent the entire 8 weeks actively running away from the ball. If she was interested in attending a game it all it was only because there were goldfish crackers and juice boxes afterward. The second trophy she “earned” for simply attending 6 gymnastics classes. The child couldn’t do a forward roll for Christ’s sake, yet she’s shining up that trophy on her dresser like she’s Mary Lou Retton. I have never been an athlete, but my understanding was that you played a game and someone won and someone lost. It seems now someone wins but everyone gets a trophy! Funny, I’ve never heard of someone getting a promotion and everyone getting a raise, and yet we’ve got a generation of children thinking that showing up is just as good as, well, being good. I want to teach my kids things that will prepare them for life, and that doesn’t include a participation ribbon for waking up in the morning. Sure I want my kids to know the joy of winning, but I really want them to know the agony of defeat. I want my kids to come in second place, third place, or hell, dead last. I want them to lose a game, shake the winner’s hand, and mope around their room all night. Then I want them to wake up the next day to see the sun still shining and get over it! It is whether you win or lose; that’s why it’s called a game.
Organized Play Dates:
Since it is no longer safe to send children out into the street to play until dusk (lest your neighbors call Child Protective Services on you), I accept that the play date is a necessary construct and that I will have to host them equally. This is fine with me so long as everyone understands I will not participate in the play date. Look, if I wanted to have more children to entertain, I would either produce them myself or become a preschool teacher. As both scenarios frown upon daytime wine consumption, it seems unlikely I will do either. So if I have extra children in my home it is for the sole purpose of distracting my own children so that I can get $h%t done! Yes, I am effectively using your kid to babysit mine so that I can do really fun things like wash clothes and cook dinner. If only I had the time to play Candy Land with a bunch of kids… I would surely spend it drinking wine and online shopping. So do not come to me for activity ideas or to mediate your argument over who gets to play the princess and who has to be the prince. Do not come inside asking for a snack; in fact, unless it’s pouring rain, do not come inside at all. You wanted to invite this kid over because she is your “best friend,” so don’t waste your time bothering me. Go. Find. Something. To. Do.
And thank you Pinterest for giving all the “crafty” moms fun play date activity ideas so that when my kid goes to your house she returns with a home-made birdhouse. Not only do I have to find a way to mount it from my porch, but it also gives my kid the crazy idea that adults are supposed to spend their afternoon gluing popsicle sticks to a piece of cardboard…’cause that just ain’t happening at my house.
Parents should be supportive of their children, but there is a line between hanging a finger-painting on the fridge and having it mounted on canvas above the fireplace. Folks act like every little mark on a paper is a masterpiece and every Lego structure is an architectural phenomenon, and eventually your kids are thinking the sun shines out of their butt-crack. Your child simply cannot be the smartest, the funniest, and the most talented child on the planet in every situation. At some point they are going to fall short of perfection, and then what? Tears and tantrums when someone else gets to be the line leader. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is to tell them the truth, and sometimes the truth is…don’t quit your day job. Back when Ed McMahon made people famous overnight, I was singing in the kitchen and told my dad he needed to sign me up for Star Search, to which he replied, “I would, Honey, but every other note you just sang was flat.” Thus endith my rock star dreams. Now millions of parents haul their kids across the country to embarrass themselves on American Idol. I can only think that these parents are either truly tone-deaf or just don’t really like their kids.
Somewhere between telling our kids they are the best at everything, giving awards for showing up, and trading cupcakes for affection, has blossomed a generation of young adults convinced they are the center of the universe. There is not a company in the world advertising for the position of egomaniacal spoiled brat, which might be why 45 percent of our college graduates are back in their perfectly-preserved childhood bedrooms. All our little super novas fade out on contact with real life, because bosses don’t give gold stars for just meeting expectations. Perhaps the best thing parents can do to show their kids how much they love them is to prepare them for the world by saying, “I love you, I support you, but this needs some work!”
(not telling you how to raise your kids, just telling you how I would raise your kids)Share This: