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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who's in Charge?

Fair warning:
This is a soapbox post.

Sometimes when I watch people
interact with their kids,
I have to ask-
who's in charge?

Now, before I go any further,
let me assure you.
I have no illusions about my own parenting.

God only knows, we are far from perfect parents.

I thought I was a perfect parent before I had kids.

I distinctly remember, when Kate was around two,
telling my mom that so far I couldn't pinpoint
any mistakes we had made thus far.

Oh yeah.
Dream on.

I was one clueless, slightly arrogant puppy!

We went along fairly blithely until we had Trey,
then the shit hit the fan
and we came crashing down to reality.

That kid has made us eat
many, many a crow
and made us better people because of it.

So, while acknowledging my imperfections,
this is a pet peeve of mine.

Okay, so the situation at hand is this:

Kate was having her pool party
this afternoon.

The girls were having fun
and I bumped the ending time back
from five pm to six pm
so they could play longer.

So, H's father get here to pick her up around
6:15 pm.
That's fine, no big deal.

I walk out with him
to tell H
that her father is here
and we get cries of
"Oh no!
Five more minutes!
We just have to finish this game!"

Okay, I totally get and expected that.
They had been playing a diving board judging game.

So we chat for a few minutes.

Then we sit and chat about ten more minutes.

Nice guy, but it's getting late.
Past dinnertime.

So with some hinting from me
he prompts his daughter:
"H, this is the REAL five minutes."

Um, okay.
What were the other five minutes, exactly?

Fake five minutes?
Psych five minutes?
Opposite day five minutes?

So we chat a bit longer
while I am cleaning things up
(hint hint)
and my husband is on a slow boil.

Then he says
"H, we really do need to go,
I left your little sister home alone
and I don't want to leave her long."

To this H replies,
in a not snotty tone at all
because she is truly a nice kid,

"Well, why don't you go home
and give her dinner
and come back and get me
in about an hour?"

Well, I'll be damned
if that man didn't consider that for a second
and then get up as if preparing
to do that.

He was going to do that!

There are times that that works for me,
kids staying for dinner
or over night etc,
but at the discretion of ME,
the parent and homeowner.

This was not one of those times.

So, at that point I was forced to step in
and say
"H, we would love to have you stay longer,
for dinner and swim,
another time.
But for now, we need to wrap things up.
Which one of these is your towel?"

As I said,
H is a really nice kid.
I like her.
I think she is respectful and well mannered
and bright.

None of what was said by her had sass
or maliciousness in her tone.

But, it did certainly demonstrate
some confusion
on who had to listen to whom,
who set the rules
and who followed them.

Somewhere along the way of a generation
trying to correct for authoritative parenting
we have slipped too far into permissive parenting.

I know that all of our parents
think we are too permissive in our parenting in general.
Especially that we allow our children too much voice,
too much opinion.

Compared to others,
we are the equivalent of
parenting nazis.

Who knows,
all I can say is
when the party's over
and the dinner bell is ringing,

take your kid
and go the heck home!


MOM said...

Rave on Leeann. We need to hear more of that!!
Hope you finally had dinner and it wasn't cold.

Anonymous said...

Once you allow the inmates to run the asylum, trouble is sure to follow. Good job, Leeann!

Lori @ The Simple Life at Home said...

Oh, girl, I hear you!! After Emily's party, one dad was here to pick up his kids (one of whom stayed, though wasn't invited). The party ended at 6. They didn't leave until, no lie, 9 o'clock. I had a huge migraine and finally just left him with Ibrahi and went to bed. The kids were running around screaming and every time he said, "Let's go" they just ignored him and he let them. It was awful! Good for you for standing up for yourself!

Splaneyo said...

Unbelievable! I see that problem frequently, but I am usually so shocked I can't think of anything to say. Also, hello? Manners Dad? Something about not overstaying your welcome...