Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Embracing the Joys of Summer, with Kids

It sounds as if Jennifer Graham got the kids she deserved; Summer of Our Discontent Embrace the vacation horror. By Jennifer Graham. One day we will probably read a piece by one of her kids extolling the horror of having to put up with aging Mom Jennifer Graham or maybe they'll just throw her in an old folks home.

If it’s that of the children — newly released from the rigors of the public-school system, where, this past year, one of mine watched A Bug’s Life in eighth-grade English class — I’ll pass. I’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese and surveyed the population; we can afford to lose a few thousand of ‘em without jeopardizing the replacement rate.

I can't believe someone could be so glib about the loss of a child. I treasure my children and can't imagine my life without them.

The alarming outbreak of children affects us all. It’s us against them, and many of them are on skateboards, headed straight for our BMWs.

What a sad mentality Ms. Graham has. My children and I are on the same team.

The dirty little secret of parenting is that there’s so little actual parenting involved. Mostly, “parenting” is a euphemism for “housework in the presence of children,” which quadruples when the temperature hits 90. The businesswoman daydreaming of her fireflies and lemonade stand edits out the image of her own disheveled mother beginning her sixth load of laundry (do wild blackberry stains ever really come out?), applying Band-Aids and zinc oxide, breaking up fights, mopping up spills, and perpetually sweeping, like a crazed Lady Macbeth: “yet here’s a spot … what, will these floors ne’er be clean?”

Maybe that's Ms. Graham's problem, instead of actually parenting her children she abrogated her parental responsibilities in favor of housework. The housework will always be there your children won't. I am so glad that I took the time to spend time with my children when they were small instead of leaving them to fend for themselves while I maintained the perfect house. And remember that "team" I mentioned, well me and the kids tackled the housework together so we could play. Even when they were small there were simple task they could help with.

Some families actually do enjoy family vacations, my family certainly does and I don't touch a shred of laundry the whole time we are gone.

When it spills a pitcher of homemade lemonade all over the newly mopped floor, I let it.

There is something inherently wrong in referring to your child as 'it'. Accidents happen but even the littlest child can help clean up the spilt lemonade.

When it knocks the $200-and-near-impossible-to-replace Wii off the shelf, I let it.

I choose to teach my children to respect the property of others and how to behave inside.

When it picks all the annuals in my flower garden, I let it.

I taught my children how to help care for the plants in my flower garden and not to pick the flowers without my permission.

When it hits its brother on the head, I let it.

I choose to teach my children that violence isn't the answer and how to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner.

Like Steve Buscemi’s character accepting the imminent destruction of Earth in the movie Armageddon, we must learn to embrace the horror. Without summer vacation, there would be no school teachers, and we’d have to hang out with our kids all year.

Maybe the parenting choices I made is why I actually enjoy being with my kids all year.

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