Friday, January 6, 2012

The JackA$$ Parent

Lately, tonight actually, it has occurred to me that to every pair of parents, there is the "Jerk" parent also known as the JackA$$ parent because they don't care if they are considered a JackA$$ or not and then there is the cool parent, the "with it" parent, the la-di-la nothing will ever happen parent.

Kids prefer the "cool" parent and are annoyed to strongly antagonistic toward the Jerk parent.  Therefore most parents would like to be the "cool" parent, and sometimes the Jerk parent can pull off being the "cool" parent for a limited amount of time.

Strive to be the "cool" parent.

How can you tell whether or not you will be the cool parent?  I believe that clues to your later parenting skills show up during your childhood to teenage years and even into adult pre- parent years.

For example, if you and your friends were about to go swing on a gate, okay, I see I have to explain swinging on a gate.  Back when I was a kid, there were gates here and there among the empty lots that made up our lives.  Some were gates from defunct, small family farms and those were useless for swinging on.  They were usually made of wood and wire, not balanced, and usually hung one end into the dirt that once made up the driveway.  They took a ton of pushing and prodding to move and were more effort than what they were worth to get any kind of a ride.

Then there were the gates that once closed on the front yards of a family home.  They were usually made of wood planks placed next to each other and secured by a cross beam top and bottom to keep everything sturdy and secure.  They were meant to be secure and last a long time and they were perfect to stand on, push off with a foot and ride that short arc until the latch slammed into the post that completed the doorway with a resounding CLANG! and a bump that told you that the ride was over and it was time to move the gate back to it's first position for another ride.  The really good kids, of which I wasn't, could get a toe hold on either side of the gate and get a "swing" from side to side.  Except, that usually gave you a ride into the thorny remains of the rosebush that once graced those gates. 

It got to the point that I enjoyed "swinging" so much that I once "swung" on the gate of a neighbor's house that was beautifully balanced, gave a great, smooth ride, but the problem was the house wasn't vacant.

"Hey you kid! Stop swinging on my gate!"

And I stopped, because I was essentially a good kid that really hated to be yelled at.

So, if your first reaction to swinging on a gate was to check for splinters or rusty nails, instead of yelling "Yippie! Another gate to swing on!"  I think that shows a predisposition to be the Jerk parent instead of the Cool parent.

Or, when taking your younger siblings to the beach during summer vacation, you made sure they were all coated in suntan lotion, and then as a group went searching for sea shells and then building a sandcastle instead of  yelling  "Only go out into water up to your knees.  We'll meet back here at 3."  I think you are showing signs of being the Jerk parent in the future instead of being the Cool parent.

I am ............ sad to say, the Jerk parent.

I've been parenting for 30 something years now, so I've had lots of experience of  parenting different age groups.  I'm parenting adults, new adults, teenagers and a pre- teen.  The hardest to parent is the new adult.  The pre-teen still is fooled into thinking I am a saint straight from heaven meant to parent her, the teenagers are going through the stages of oh-my-gosh-this-woman-knows-nothing-who thought-it-was-a-good-idea-of putting-her-in-charge-of-cats-let-alone-humans?  to coming out the other side thinking not-as-dumb-as-I-thought-fairly-benevolent.  But then there is the new adult,
he doesn't think I am all that dumb, but pretty naive. He's benevolent toward me.

He, like everyone else in this house, has a curfew.  I know a lot of cool parents are sucking in their breaths and thinking "oooo,hooo. An adult with a curfew. Not good."  But I figure it this way, I am, who I am.  I need my front door locked and all inhabitants accounted for before I can go to sleep for the night.  I'm not making any adult live here, all adults are free to live where they can afford.  But for me, this is a house rule. 

So the adult missed curfew, and I stayed up another hour waiting.  Now, I am good about missing curfew up until a half an hour.  After that, I start to get nervous.

My dear husband is saying "Honey, he's fine, you need to go to bed."

Now we've been married long enough that I am not going to snap at my beloved for something he says unless it's reaaaaaaaaalllly bad.  In Nate's mind, Bart is fine.  In my mind, how do I know he isn't lost from coming home from a particularly tricky location?  How do I know that the truck hasn't broken down?

I text him.  "You are SERIOUSLY past curfew."

Another hour.  I call his cell phone.  It gets answered by his voicemail.  I leave a message about wanting to go to bed, please call me.


I wait another half hour.  I call him get voicemail.  Call him again, get voicemail. Call him, get voice mail. Call him and tell him on his voicemail that if he isn't home by the hour, I will then call the police to find him.

Jerky thing to do, right?  Didn't  I say I am the Jerk parent?  Right?

He was home before the hour, and it ended up that his Android phone battery had died before my constant calling of his voice mail. 

"Pretty good thing I got home before the hour huh?" Bart grinned before telling me about his night.

Yeah, because I would have called the police.

We both knew I would have.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Don't Think I Should Just Write

I've been told that I would always have something to write about if I remembered to always write about something that made me angry something, something that made my blood boil, something that was in the news.

Well the big story in the news these days seems to be either about children being betrayed by adults they should be able to trust or about infidelity between married people. While it's true that these stories to get me angry to make my blood boil and are in the news, so they are current, I just don't want to write about them.

So now what do? Have nothing to write about?

What I've decided to do is to write about something that makes me mildly annoyed; the making of supper every single night.

I've been married 32 years, minus the two years I've had cancer and I think it would be safe to say I've made supper seven days a week, four weeks a month, 12 pounds a year for 30 years. Of course that doesn't take into account the nights that I got all off from cooking; the nights I was sick, we ate out, or had the night off for whatever other reason. But how many suppers have I cooked in the last 30 years?

It gets repetitive after a while. There are only so many times that you can make meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, baked chicken, and stew before it all starts to taste the same. And that is when the problems begin.

When Nate and I got married, we promised each other that we would never eat organ meats like kidneys, liver, brain or tongue and never, never ever, lima beans. Those were the parameters and Nate promised never to be a picky eater on until...

He developed a hatred of mushrooms, peas,faux Chinese food. He didn't like macaroni and cheese, hot tuna fish and then tuna fish at all.

One day when I was cooking stroganoff I needed Nate to go to the store and buy the sour cream I had forgotten. He purchased it as I asked, but was in horror that I was going to put sour cream in our dinner.

Now he knew what he tasted in the stroganoff that he didn't like – sour cream!

I can live with not putting ingredients into our food that neither of us like and I've sacrificed not eating mushrooms in our meals for over 20 years but I don't like having to read recipes to him so he can single out ingredients to leave out.

One rare night lately, I was going to make supper. I say rare because since the cancer it has been harder and harder for me to cook. I had the ingredients I was going to use on the counter next to the stove.

"Oh no! Don't put beans in it." Said my son.

"Don't put tomatoes in it!" Said my daughter.

"Okay." I said. "I won't put beans or tomatoes in it, I'll put in onions and frozen peppers instead."

"Yuck! Don't put peppers in, they are slimy and soft." Said my third child.

Then the vegetarian stepped in. "Do you have to put hamburger in it?"

I realized, the only ingredients left were water and two bouillon cubes.

That's when my husband stepped in.

"Cook supper the way you want to cook supper." He said.

And just when I thought he understood, he questioned me on what spices I was going to use!

So these are the new rules for the cooking of supper - 1. Have all the ingredients you need on hand 2. No one gets to stay in the kitchen with the cook and/or comment on the ingredients and 3. No one gets to ask about what ingredients are being used 4. If you didn't cook the meal, you don't get to complain about it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to my dear readers!  May this year be filled with health and happiness, good fortune and overflowing with cheer!

The Christmas tree has been taken down and all but the most cleverly hidden of decorations  have been put away.  I feel a bit badly about that since the actual Christmas season has really just started. But with me going for chemo agqin, who knows when I would get the energy to take down the tree if I waited till later?  And a Easter Christmas Tree in the spring would really be disheartening!!!

So I'm a bit sad to be losing our elf this quickly, and I've been reassured that elves belong to winter folklore if I really want to keep the elf.   I think a clean break is best though, especially since my cats love to kidnap the elf!

Its so sunny and warm, wouldn't it be great if the rest of the winter was this way?


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