Why can't you get mad at kids anymore?

I might lose a friend over this. Eh, she's new. Easy go!

My kids know not to mess with my stuff. I'm not even sure why. Maybe I said something in the hospital when they were born like, "craft fabric is poison to children" or "the Elf lives by the washing machine" etc. and it traumatized (trained!) their mushy little brains. Anyway, the gel is set. They know not to mess with mom's things, which is why I have never given a second thought to letting them play in the basement alone. They have their area for destruction; I have my holiday decorations that may as well be sectioned off by hazmat tape. Hands off. Goes without saying. Never been problem.

I went down there to do laundry the other day and I discovered the kid we had over for a play date earlier got into my wreaths. She plucked all the berries off my fall decor and gleefully ground them into the carpet. Now, I'm not saying my kids were totally innocent. The story I'm getting from my girls is it was the other kid's idea, but she and Stella went to town together and Bee stood idly by. I actually believe this and it leaves me with a conundrum.

Why am I not allowed to get mad at the other kid?

I got mad at my kids. I charged in their room and demanded answers. They're in big trouble. No one is getting popsicles tomorrow and maybe not even the day after that, PLUS I expect them to clean up those fake berries crumbled everywhere. No buts. (God, don't you just love being the mom and finally getting to say stuff like, "no buts"?)

Here's the thing. I feel like I'm not even allowed to tell the other mom. If I say, "you know, the kids got into my holiday decorations in the basement and ruined my fall wreath" I'm going to sound like a cheap jerk who should have bubble wrapped the house in the first place and had a spy drone circling the basement. We're supposed to supervise and ubervise and Lock Things Up. Everything dangerous or off-limits is supposed to be well out of reach. We don't teach our kids to control themselves. No, we're supposed to puppeteer them until they're 25 years old then we wonder how come we have a generation of new graduates on our hands who can't tie their own shoes.

I am SUCH an old man. I swear, beneath these breasts swollen with milk and all my terrible eyeliner lies an angry grandpa with a cane and a lawn he cares very much about. But seriously, we don't teach kids to be responsible anymore. Maybe we teach it, but the emphasis seems to be on us teaching as opposed to the kid learning.

The standard of parenting is high, but the standard of growing up is low.

Nothing ever seems to be kids' own fault. If a five-year-old goes to someone's house and has a disco burn in the host's basement, well, it was to be expected. Kids will be kids! I think it's supposed to be adorable and we have to take pictures of it and Instagram it. I saw a video once of a mom discovering her two children had covered her living room in flour and she was giggling like, "now boys, what did you do? Tee hee!" I'm not saying physical violence is the answer, but maybe a little verbal whoop ass was in order.

Are we not allowed to be angry at kids anymore? Nothing they ever do wrong is okay to chastise because their fragile self esteems might be shaken? Bullshit. I have no problem taking a burn down town of voice with my kids over a holiday wreath. Pull out your opera glasses if they ever destroy my entire house with baking flour.

Let's back up. I can imagine the shoe being on the other foot myself. If my girls went somewhere and played with a thing that was within their reach and they weren't supervised, I'd also be kind of like, "well, put your crap up, lady". So I'm not saying I'm totally in the right here, but something really bugs me about the way modern parenting excuses personal responsibility from kids. The onus is always on the adult and the kids are raised to think their misbehavior is someone else's fault.

You know what kept me from drinking bleach in the 80's? A Mister Yuk sticker.

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I knew when I saw it that whatever it was affixed to was off limits. I didn't try to sneak a whiff of Ajax or give myself a swig of Robitussin. Was it the times that were different? Maybe it was the area. You people up north seem to raise kids a little differently than we did on the Indiana-Kentucky border, where farm kids learned to drive at 14 and girls babysat at 12. Age should be calculated differently depending on your region of birth. In Evansville years, I'm like 81 by now. (I honestly think someone from my high school is a grandma already, so I'm kind of only half joking.)

Here's the part of parenting where I always get stuck. My inclination is to say, "well we never did it that way!" or "well MY parents never would have let me get away with . . ." but I can never trust that instinct because in fact, I had pretty shitty parenting. My parents didn't tolerate a thing. I was kicked out of the house at 17 and never let back in for being "sassy" - a cheerleading honor student with a part-time job. Relying on the parenting I received will never make sense in the context of raising my own children.

I still contend we need to be be able to express disappointment in kids. Maybe if the Instagram generation of parents quit with the "look at me" show and parenting wasn't such a exhibitionist activity, the generation of preschoolers right now might actually grow up to not be jerks. And maybe I'd still have my berry wreath. And maybe the polar ice caps might not be melting. (Too far?)

Don't touch my crap, kids.

 

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UPDATE - The comments gave me a great idea for Mr. Yuk stickers!

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