I was sitting in the car the other day with my four kids after we had told them that the baby in my tummy was yet another boy when Mr 7 announced to his younger siblings:
“Guys after Mum has the new baby, something disgusting is going to happen! She will feed the baby from her boobs and we will see it happening ewwww” – This followed with me having to lecture them all about the normality of feeding a baby and how is wasn’t like I was going to feed the baby in their classrooms – cue ‘fits of giggles’!!!! I have to say that I joined in the giggling. I have only just started to lock the bathroom door (more for 5 mins of peace than modesty) so I can see how odd just seeing my tummy grow would be from their point of view.
My hubby is no better than me, I’ve just walked out of a room where my youngest son who has just turned 2 last week announced to his father “Daddy, I just farted” – cue fits of giggles from both of them (my brain also just had a scary flashforward to my future and what holds with 4 boys and a father who still thinks farting is hilarious) I shot them both a “you are so inappropriate I am furious and disgusted at both of you’ kind of look. Cue – more giggles from the eldest (37) and youngest (2) males in my family.
This begs the question, ‘does being a parent mean that you grow up instantly?’ In our house it clearly doesn’t seem to be the case but I would argue that yes you do become more mature when you become responsible for another life. However, as they grow up and start asking the tougher questions, it is hard to always take the higher ground and pretend that you are the product of and promote a Brady Bunch type lifestyle or that you want to be part of a Brady Bunch type existence. I for one am no Carol Brady and to be honest, I don’t want to be her.
What is appropriate and what isn’t? My girlfriends define maturity and getting old by two questions: “Do you listen to AM radio and do you drink hot water? Yes, I’m a massive AM radio fan but only because FM morning radio causes way too many questions from my kids and Hot Water – no, still on 5 cups of coffee a day”. So I’m a 50/50 grown up. I can see my own contradictions and hypocrisy becoming evident though. For the last 7 years, I thought Cartoon Network (basically a channel with only cartoons on FOXTEL) was a harmless channel on tele but after 5 mins of watching it during these holidays I’ve deemed it more evil than the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I tutt tutt over Lady Gaga’s antics (in the same way my mother did about Madonna) but laugh when my kids dance to any LMFAO song. I won’t let my kids utter the word ‘hate’ but the fact that my 2 year old occasionally says “SH*T” in a very appropriate context makes me laugh out loud.
This also begs the question of how do you appropriately explain big person things to little people or early teens or teenagers without painting yourself as some type of Saint who is simply going to be a great big disappointment once the kids are old enough to know the truth? It’s one thing to tell the kids that another baby is on the way but how on earth do you explain it to them? (I can thank my Mum for already sorting that one out in the most age appropriate manner with my lot).
I have a tendency to say WAY too much rather than too little so when it came to my big kids (7 and 6 years old) recently asking how Michael Jackson died, I went into a very long, complicated and completely unnecessary explanation about legal, illegal and prescription drugs which then resulted in more questions about what drugs look like and how you take them (erk!) – but I took the opportunity for the kids to think that yes, if you take drugs, you could die….just like Michael Jackson did….When I asked a friend how she had explained his death to her kids, she replied with “Oh, I just told them he took some bad medication’ – Good mother points to her = 1 Good mother points to me = 0.
It is funny though when you see other parents who have lost their entire memory of what it was like to be young and parenthood has turned them into straighty 180 types. These types are my favourites. I don’t think they EVER drank before 18, they certainly didn’t have s.e.x until they wanted to create their first child. They have never even tried a cigarette, and they only listened to Mozart, Beethoven or The Wiggles as teens, they obeyed their parents every wish and god forbid their children are perfect angels that don’t have a naughty or mischievous bone in their bodies (now or in the future). This group of parents are so far up and in their own maturity zone that they’ve forgotten how to laugh, dance or have fun! They moved into Chai Latte land and are now so busy tutt tutting 18 year olds for their facebook posts that they’ve forgotten we possibly got up to the same stuff but weren’t as open about it. Sure the kids of today are different to us as kids and we were different to our own parents but I am sure at one time or another we’ve all worn a skirt that was a little bit too short, it certainly didn’t end the world if we did though.
Yes it’s important to set an example for your kids and to set boundaries as well as guiding them along the long road to ‘being the best person you can be’ but I also think we need to remember that we were kids once too and being a parent doesn’t mean you have to lose your sense of fun whilst raising your kids. I have no doubt that I forgot my manners at times and I most certainly had a cheeky streak and that hasn’t made me the world’s most horrific person as a grown up. My kids know the real me and that’s what matters the most. Perhaps all those other straighty 180 parents are actually and always have been straighty 180 types? Erk, if that’s the case, I really was naughty as a kid!