“Who’s your girlfriend this week?” I asked my 12 year-old son who replied with a grin telling me that he’s once again single. As any penny-pinching mother would do, I advised him to stay single through the holidays. Oh, yes, I remember middle school fondly. Boys and girls “go out” to no place in particular and relationships fizzle out by the start of a new school week. And bouncing back and forth between boys and going out with your friend’s ex wasn’t breaking girl code and didn’t tarnish a girl’s reputation. It was all part of the dance.
Middle school was the time to explore all of the highs and lows of young love. Looking back, it wasn’t love at all but some debilitating combination of erratic hormones and omnipresent peer pressure wreaking havoc on a developing self-esteem. A time that was as exhilarating as it was emotionally draining. Let’s face it, there’s nothing remotely authentic about the love we claimed to experience. Instead, we unknowingly succumbed to an almost placebo love, heavily spiked by the amorous side of our undeveloped egos.
Image Credit: morgueFile
About the only thing that has changed over the years, technology excluded, is the language of love. And by that, I mean the semantics. I asked my son if this cute girl in his grade had a boyfriend. He told me that his friend “be pullin’ her.” Grammar aside (thank you hip hop lyrics), I needed some assistance to translate the expression. “What do you mean pullin’?” I asked tapping into my own experiences. “You mean he likes her, but she’s playing hard to get?” He nodded. I tried to disguise my fascination with the changing terminology. I knew that if I asked too many prying questions, then the conversation would end before I got my answers. From my husband to my kids, my reputation for asking follow up questions is well-known. I’ve learned to tread lightly.
After my son decoded the preteen vernacular for me, I came to realize that the game of courting hasn’t changed at all since I was his age. The new verbiage is merely a twist on who has the power. For a boy to be “pullin’” that means he’s in control. In actuality, the girl who's being chased holds all of the power. Yes, just like in my day, boys are still boys who like the chase and fear rejection. Fast forward to the adult years, whether those same boys "be pullin’" or chasin’, we all know where the power lies. That crude but true expression about the power of the pussy confirms it. (Forgive me, Mom.)
First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes a baby
in the baby carriage...
Image Credit: Dreamstime
I’ve long considered myself a traditionalist when it comes to marriage and kids even if I did elope at nineteen, six months after I met my husband on a street corner; divorce him after fifteen years; and then remarry him less than a year after our divorce was finalized. (More on that another day.) To outsiders, I’m probably seen as anything but traditional. And my bare ring finger is a likely contradiction to how I see myself compared to what others assume of me. Rest assured, though, I’m in the majority of people who believes that sex before marriage and cohabitating are almost modern day musts. Right? But when it comes to having children, I think couples should be married first.
While I was lying in bed one night reading about the latest Hollywood couple and the reversal of love, marriage, and then baby, I tapped my husband’s back to ask him what he thought about unmarried people having babies. His answer surprised me. “Marriage doesn’t mean anything. For people that want to be committed they are; otherwise they’re not.” Leave it to a man to whittle his reasoning down in such a simplistic way. I rolled over, feeling dejected and wondering why we’d remarried if that’s how he felt. Oh yeah, for the four kids we already had.
Honestly, if I’d thought about our own rocky history before asking for his input, then his answer wouldn’t have been such a shock. He’s right. Marriage doesn’t guarantee commitment. (How else would Bethenny fill an hour-long talk show without infinite stories of infidelity?) And marriage definitely doesn’t mean what it used to for many people. Why else would the divorce rate be so high? Sometimes I meet people whose family dynamics are so complicated that I almost need to draw a diagram to decipher the family tree of divorced, remarried, step-kids, half-kids, biological kids, etc. That bothers me. And even though divorce came and went in my life, it was never what I wanted.
So while marriage might be pointless, in terms of commitment, there are many reasons why traditionalists like me still believe in marriage before kids. My opinion has nothing to do with conformity. If I’d adhered to society’s expectations, I would’ve never eloped on a workday or remarried the same man. Or worn a hideous plaid jacket with red trousers my first go round. What was I thinking?
Marriage gives kids security. Period. It cements that feeling of being united in one family. Sharing the same last name isn’t just convenient, it’s another sign of that commitment. (I know sharing the same name isn’t applicable to all cultures.) Marriage is also an extra roadblock that makes bailing out harder. At the time of my divorce, I regretted feeling locked in and restrained by the law. The meaning of marriage isn’t convoluted in kids’ minds or debated as an institution forced upon us. It’s simple. Black and white. And it matters. In a culture that often puts each individual’s needs before others, marriage is in the best interest of the children. Children who hopefully spawned from that commitment. (Or in some cases, came after an unplanned oops, but either way, loved the same.)
So in Hollywood, marriage might come after baby or maybe not at all, because there’s a different set of rules in fantasyland. But for the rest of us traditionalists in the real world, marriage is just as important as everything that should come after.
I’ve officially hit rock bottom, shedding tears this morning as I watched GMA bid farewell to ageless, visual-boy-toy-for-some--the Sam Champion. I’m not even a GMA loyalist having switched to The Today Show sometime between Meredith Viera’s departure and Anne Curry’s rocky transition and ouster to war zones and far off lands communicated via satellite. Hoda and Kathie Lee were the ones who really sealed my switch. (Just read that last line and urgent note to self--get a life.)
I’ve long thought that Sam Champion is ABC’s version of what Brian Williams is to NBC. They’re both human Ken dolls, part robotic, but nonetheless pros in their respective news arenas. Both men are perfectly coiffed and immaculately dressed, looking as if they’d never be caught dead in a pair of stretched out, oversized Hanes sweatpants lounging on the couch eating from a bag of Cheetos. Brian Williams aside, I doubt that Sam Champion would ever wear a pair of jeans twice, unlike Anderson Cooper who admitted he only washes his four times a year. That’s once a quarter or roughly once per season for perspective. (Calling Gloria Vanderbilt for an immediate intervention. Your son needs you.) I know what you’re thinking; I only bring up two gay men simply for the clothing analogy.
So back to the broadcast. My first tear fell when Josh Elliot began saying his good-byes. Full disclosure, I don’t even like Josh Elliot. Something about him grates on my nerves. I’m sure he’s a wonderful man. (Whew-conscience cleared.) I do enjoy seeing that sensitive side of men. I think that’s my motherly instinct even if Josh Elliot is my contemporary. (Side note: That cougar thing would never work out for me; (a) because I’m married and (b) because I look at boys/men as someone to be mothered. Having kids might’ve screwed me in more ways than one.) Moving on…
Moments before Josh ever spoke, I saw him fidgeting and looking down in the wide shot before the camera panned to him. (That’s me talking without any firsthand news experience.) Josh, if I can call him by his first name, began choking up when talking about his friendship with Sam and how people referred to it as a newfangled bromance. (Side note: Isn’t it odd how a close friendship between two men automatically raises eyebrows?)
After I shed a few tears and caught myself wondering why in the hell I’m crying during a freaking morning show, I realized my emotions had nothing to do with Sam Champion’s new venture at The Weather Channel. A channel by the way that I only turn on when I want to hear another meteorologist’s predictions about whether Atlanta will receive “frozen-precip.” (That’s the buzzword in these parts.) No, I think my tears were strictly attributed to my hormones, which have been in overdrive these past few days leading my son to ask me if I’m pregnant. Four kids are more than enough, thank you. And, besides son, “Daddy’s fixed,” but I’ll save that discussion for another day.
So, farewell Sam Champion. Come tomorrow morning, I can’t say that I’ll necessarily notice your absence from the GMA bunch. My mornings are usually full watching local news stories, flipping to Fox to see Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s blunders, and getting an extra dose of Willie Geist on MSNBC. (Love me some Willie. Wait. That sounds wrong.) Yet when the time comes, I just might have to switch on The Weather Channel to get a glimpse of Sam Champion at his new home. That is if People magazine or another gossip site doesn’t update me first.
I'm a big believer in the power of saying thank you. I teach my kids to thank the cook (as in me) after a meal and to write thank you notes whenever they receive a gift. So in keeping with a theme of gratitude, in this a season of giving and receiving, this month's quote is essential.
"If the only pray you say throughout your life is thank you,
then that will be enough."
P.S. My temperamental computer wouldn't let me add this last line until now. I owe many thanks to everyone who has been visiting my blog. Plus, a special thanks goes to those who return.
I’m gullible. Why else would I have believed in Santa up until the 4th/5th grade? I was so convinced that he was real that I swore I heard jingling bells and almost crapped my pants since I was told to stay in my bed. For my own sake, my parents decided to end the almost decade long façade of that bearded, ageless man scooting down an ashy chimney to deliver presents to the world’s children all in a single night. You’d think the logistics alone would’ve blown his cover. Nope. I was all in.
So when my parents confessed the long overdue truth, I was devastated as in uncontrollable boohooing, gut-wrenching sobs. And the triple blow came when they confirmed my suspicions about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. My world came crashing down in a day. The transition from being a gullible child to an enlightened insider was more jolting than the rush of hormones that came with puberty.
Then came the time for me to carry on that Christian tradition with my own children. Somehow deceiving the most vulnerable in society seems to defy religious teachings. I guess coercing our children into believing in someone so blatantly outlandish and unreal as Santa could be categorized as a white lie, since the motive is entirely for the children’s benefit. Only the endemic white lie and following cover-up lasts years and detracts from the real meaning of Christmas. Some people have said that teaching children about Santa is actually harmful. I don’t think I’d go that far and I’m not even a practicing Christian. I’m one of those non-religious, going-through-the-motions-strictly-for-my-children type of person who can’t wait until Christmas day has come and gone. I would shorten my life by omitting all of the Decembers throughout my lifetime if that was an option. Scrooge? I can’t help it. Besides, I see the light at the end of the red and green tunnel.
One of my favorite decorations made in the kid's preschool. A painted block of wood with simple embellishments. In a word--perfect.
Peter is my only child who still believes in Santa. At age seven, I’m hoping he won’t find out for at least two more years. That’s me being selfless. He has a habit of oversharing. (Side note: Last week I overheard him revealing my age to the cable guy voluntarily.) Peter would likely make every child he encountered a non-believer. I don’t need any more parents angry with me for something my kids have shared. There was that awkward phone call a few years back when my oldest son gave a recap on circumcisions to a female classmate on the sidelines of P.E.
There is only one upside I see to the Christmas season and that’s those stupid elves. Yes, plural. There are multiple elves who’ve inhabited our house since Thanksgiving Eve thanks to my daughters’ persistent urging since Christmas was on the horizon sometime around the start of November. Odd how the mere days of the elves' presence already feels like an eternity. Thankfully, though, my daughters have overtaken my role by positioning the elves in precarious spots throughout the house and setting up elaborate pranks after Peter’s asleep. Better them than me. In years past, I began to resent ever buying the first elf when my creative juices ran dry within the first week of “its” arrival.
So now that Santa’s identity is only a secret to one, the pressure is off somewhat and I’m free to sit back and enjoy Peter’s semi-transformed behavior thanks to those watchful elves. And if those elves keep him out of trouble for only a few weeks out of the year, I’ll take what I can get. Maybe December isn’t so bad after all.
*If sitting on Santa’s lap isn’t enough for your child, you can go all in and have Santa send a personalized e-mail from the Portable North Pole website. http://www.portablenorthpole.com/home
If you're like me then you gloss over when you hear the trite spiel of, "Life is a journey not a destination." Daily life can be overwhelming, notwithstanding those angry neighbors, and it's easy to get in a rut, weighed down by expectations and things to come. If you're also like me, then you're waiting for the pieces of your life to come together as if those ideal conditions will lead to happiness once we arrive at that destination we've fantasized about in our minds. Only life really is made up of all of the "in the meantimes" on the way to that destination that's neither guaranteed if it even exists at all. Sometimes all we need is a little boost to progress from that state of limbo whereby we're holding out for that "one day" instead of being happy in the now. Maybe this poem will help tweak your outlook.
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.
The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.
Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D'Souza. He said, "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have.
Stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.
And, if all else fails, help yourselves to a glass of mother's ruin to weather those harsh conditions this holiday season with relatives who might impede your happiness. Sometimes an artificial boost is all it takes to survive those trying meantimes.
Yesterday all seems like a bad dream. The angry neighbor pounding on my door and not one, but two policeman showing up at my front door as if backup was required for a neighborly dispute. Here’s how it all began…
My Sunday ritual watching NFL football was in full-swing when I heard a bang, bang, bang on my front door. I assumed it was one of the children trying to get inside. I opened the door casually with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in my hand. There he stood. He was my angry neighbor who’s mammoth in size compared to my 5’4’’ stature. He began his tirade. “Are you going to parent your kids or do I need to call the police?” I shrugged my soldiers and told him to do what he had to do. I don’t respond well to assholes.
This wasn’t my first encounter with a man who’s been anything but neighborly since he moved in a year and a half ago. The first time he came to my door was when Peter had stolen a green, rectangular box covering for cable wires from his yard. I don’t know why Peter took the box except to fill it with rocks and store it in his room like other possessions he liked to hoard. The man didn’t introduce himself before he lit into me and my parenting and my “mean-spirited” son. I cut him off by explaining that Peter had autism and hadn’t intentionally targeted him. He returned to his yard where his entire family had been watching the confrontation, including his wife standing with crossed arms next to the wires jutting from the ground. Just to clarify, we aren’t in a neighborhood, but live in an enclave of a few of homes, all sharing fence lines with over an acre of land each.
Prior to that encounter, I first met the man’s diminutive wife when she marched outside and ordered the kids and me back to our yard. I’d been crouched beneath a Magnolia tree after the girls asked me to help them rescue a fledgling bird with an injured wing. You’d think we’d been trampling through a Yard-of-the-Month flower bed. Beyond my initial thought of, “What a bitch!” I was shocked that people like her still existed. And she’s a mother no less. I remember encountering those kinds of people when my cluster of friends and I roamed the neighborhood growing up. The kinds of people who treated kids as though they were intruders; Even sitting on the street curb in front of certain houses had been considered trespassing. I didn’t think I’d face this as an adult. And so began the silent war based on a mutual disliking.
I’d already known that something wasn’t “normal” with the neighbors after they’d emptied our friends’ (the prior tenants’) refrigerator in the middle of their move and stored their spoiling foods in the garage without permission. And they weren’t receptive to my son’s friendly overture when he walked over and introduced himself to their same aged son after they’d first moved in. It was easy to avoid one another and that’s what we did.
Months after the bird incident, my children tried to rile the neighbors by tossing a ball into their yard. I’d approved of the mild retaliation. The neighbors tossed the ball back into our yard. That game went back and forth for about a week until the ball disappeared. Since then, we’d kept our distance and I’ve ignored that childish urge of mine to annoy them once again. I keep my distance from them and I tell my kids to do the same.
Yesterday, with the holiday boredom already settling in, I sensed that the kids’ covert scheming involved harassing the neighbors. I checked on them periodically, peering through the blinds and giving them verbal warnings from the front door. They’d disappeared by the time the neighbor banged on my door. I went in search of the children to find out what happened and found them retreating in the backyard.
They admitted to shouting for the neighbors to take down their Christmas tree because it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. (I think I’ve passed on my mantra of keeping the holidays separate.) They’d also pretended to play soccer and threw their ball into the neighbors’ yard a few times before retrieving it. They showed me a video of Peter going to apologize, mockingly and not sincerely, with a box full of junk. The video recorded the “mom” calling out for him to go back to his yard. The video didn’t capture the husband storming out of the house and ordering the kids to, “Get the fuck out of our yard.” Yes, he used profanity towards kids that aren’t his own. He threw their soccer ball in his trashcan.
All of this happened within a span of ten minutes and none of it, in my opinion, warrants a call to the police. They weren’t destructive to their property. Were they annoying and rude? Yes. Could it have been handled differently if the neighbor had spoken to me as an adult instead of berating me? Most definitely. Isn’t there a middle-ground before calling the police? Apparently not. So here came the police up our gravel driveway, a surreal scene that had escalated for no reason.
After relaying my version of events, the officers told me that the neighbor had falsely accused me of using profanity when he’d been the one who’d threatened to call the police. Their son told the police that Peter said he was going to get a gun and shoot him to which Peter denied. Peter has his faults, but he always admits to threatening violence. We’re continually working with him to control his anger. I explained to the police that we weren’t gun owners and Peter didn’t have access to a gun. Before the police left, in what I vocalized was a waste of their time, I told them that I’d remind my children to stay out of the neighbors' yard and I'd continue to keep my distance as well. After all, there’s no reasoning with crazy.
I love a good turtleneck. The ones that aren't too tight to trigger that choking complex and aren't made of itchy fabrics causing a rash to flare up on my neck. The ones that have just the right blend of cottony wool to make me feel cozy and no angora hair, please. (SEE BELOW.) I wear full-on turtlenecks (no dickeys in my closet) plus mock turtlenecks and turtlenecks with short sleeves for that transitional weather. You name it, I've worn them all--proudly.
(Circa 2006) If the turtleneck didn't choke me, then my son might. Notice I'd subjected him to my love of turtlenecks, too.
I always thought turtlenecks were classic, conservative wardrobe staples and I'm not even from Connecticut. Yes, here in Georgia, turtlenecks still prevail. (Or do they?) Now I've never been one to be "on trend" and haven't had a shopping spree in years. Basically, I wear what I have, turtlenecks included, and I can't say that I feel out-of-style when I wear them. Then my daughters begged me not to wear them like I was breaking a major fashion rule. For the record, I've never been convinced by the "nobody's doing it" argument. And, in good humor, I've purposely worn a turtleneck to embarrass my daughters. How much harm could my wearing a turtleneck do to their self-esteem anyways? Now that I think back, I was always mortified of my dad's older cars that we dubbed tanks and he was the one driving.
Maybe a turtleneck has to be mesh and cleavage baring to be considered fashionable, like the one Kim Kardashian wore last week. I'm not even sure Joan Rivers and the E! crew would approve of that fashion choice. Perhaps if I had the on-trend hair, with its distinct part and long strands cascading over my collar bones, then my daughters wouldn't criticize my clothing choice. Bonus: The hair might conceal the collar.
(Note to self: Unleash that daily bun of longish hair & split ends. Get a haircut stat to avoid looking like these cookie-cutter women.)
Doesn't it seem that every woman is following the same manufactured and commercial definitions of beauty? At least these are the images rampant across the media. I have seen a few women in suburbia trying to emulate their style; Either that or they're desperately trying to recapture their per-menopausal youth. As beauty trends continue to evolve, you'll probably still find me with my hair tied up rocking a turtleneck. Well, maybe "rocking it" goes a little too far. (And, P.S. daughter, I made you wear them, too. Ha, ha, ha, ha!)
Dear Talbots Kids: I miss you.
On a serious note, I have to share this link to an article that I found when I was looking up angora rabbits: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2510641/Cruel-truths-angora-fur-trade-revealed-shocking-video.html. The internet has brought the world together, exposing humans from different cultures and ways of life, in ways that touch us and alarm us to our core. This is one of those stories that stays in your mind well after the images fade. I am not a PETA extremist. I am probably a lot like you in showing compassion towards any kind of life. I challenge you and your conscience to click on that link and still buy something containing angora hair or fur after learning where it likely originated.
A few years back, the public was disgusted and outraged after an undercover investigation exposed the use of dog fur on coat trimmings falsely labeled as synthetic materials. What about the labels that clearly state the use of fur, even just a little? The small percentages in our clothing equates to immeasurable suffering for animals. I confess that I thought the rabbits were shaved like sheep. Today, as in hours ago, I know better. I share this information with you so that when you're out shopping in the coming weeks you can either contribute to this practice or make a statement with your wallet.
I debated whether or not to post this last part and then I thought to myself, how could I not? Thanks for reading.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the ways its animals are treated."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Do you ever look ahead to a particular day with dread? The kind of day that’s “shot” before it even begins. For me, that’s today where I’ll be spending three hours confined to my children’s elementary school. First, there’s a TAG presentation and then I have three lunches to sit through that are back to back and only slightly overlapping in time. I can hear it now. You’re saying inside your head what a horrible mom I am for not wanting to spend time with my children. Let me explain.
If my kids are at school then why would I want to be there, too? It’s not just the morning shower routine, hair dry, and getting dressed that I hate. I don’t want to read a book, see a project presented, participate in a feast, have a conference, cater the class party, hear an off-key performance, or devise a holiday craft. (All those creative women you find perusing the aisles at Michaels...yeah, I'm not one of them.) I’m the paper goods mom at best. I’ve never been an active PTA mom, a room mom, or a volunteer coordinator. Occasionally, my conscience coerces me into volunteering for some activity when that desperate sounding e-mail circulates begging for just one more participant. If you couldn’t tell, you don’t want my kid in your child’s class because then you’ll end up with me. And being at school isn't a place I want to be.
Oh, and if the school clinic calls, I might not answer. Shameful, I know. Coming home requires a fever or sure signs of illness that need no further explanation. Last week, I was sucked in by the school nurse, abruptly answering the phone by default and unprepared with a reply to evade an early dismissal. She said Peter had a stomachache, was sitting in the clinic, and she was packing up his stuff to come home. Oh, ****! (You fill in the blank because I probably said both.) In those moments, what options do I have? For the record, I’ll never go so far as to send a sick, really sick, child to school. I promise I won’t let my kid infect yours if I can help it.
I know I’m not the only mother who wants every moment of “free” time after my children have vacated the house. And I use the word “free” time loosely because my days aren’t spent propped up on the sofa eating Bon Bons. (Side note: Does Nestle still make those? Chintzy Dibs are not the same.) Most days my morning ritual adheres to a rise and clean wake-up call rather than the preferred rise and shine outlook that's enjoyed by every non-parent or parents lucky enough to have grown children. That cleaning I’m compelled to do in keeping the home fires burning if you will, usually extends well beyond the time the children have boarded the bus. All four of them.
I want every minute of that in between time from their departure to the second they arrive back home. I’m not ashamed to say it. Oh, how the hours go by so quickly. Let us not forget that the second parts of my weekdays are entirely devoted to meeting my children’s needs, from snack to bedtime to homework help and beyond. Plus, the dreaded weekends (Yep, I hate them) of full-time mothering that begin around Friday at 3 p.m. and lasts until it’s time to rise and deep clean again somewhere around 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. I wasn’t always such a grouch. Mothering has left me worn out. If you're a mom with young kids, it's likely that you're horrified reading this. You'll get there, too, in time. I’ve been a mostly stay-at-home mom for twelve years and my “free” time is well- deserved.
So now I’m off to spend three hours doing what I dread, albeit with a smile so my annoyance won’t show through on my face. I can fake it with the best of them and, if I look around, I bet I’m not the only one, teachers included. Let's hope the same isn't true for bus drivers.
Image Credit: http://flic.kr/p/7J5qLK
For those of you unfamiliar with my blog, I hope you haven't landed here after reading the title of today’s post and, thus, assumed that you’ll find something related to female breasteses [sic]. For starters, I’d never refer to the female anatomy using a crude synonym favored by men in the same way I’d never refer to a penis with the equally offensive ‘c’ or ‘d’ slang words. Rather, 'tit for tat' is a strategy often implored by children and abstained from by parents of multiples, as in multiple kids, not just twins and the like.
I know that I heard the expression, “Everything can’t be tit for tat,” growing up and, as parents often do, I’m recycling the phrase for my own children. The ‘tit for tat’ reasoning has effectively replaced the overused “because I said so” reply in silencing my children’s endless pleas for the latest and greatest, or to thwart their efforts to keep up with their siblings for the sake of comparisons. With four children it's simply unpractical and financially unwise to run a family on a level playing field.
We’ve heard that life isn’t fair and nor is it equal. Sometimes one child needs a new pair of shoes while another child’s winter boots from last season still have plenty of room in the toes. I might buy a new iPod Touch case to replace a ripped one, while saying no to the child who wanted a different design. And the lessons don’t just apply to material wants. I might allow one child to have a friend over while saying no to another. Truthfully, I may like one of the friends or the parents better. One child may have more artwork posted on the family display board, while another child may be featured in more framed pictures throughout the house. I might’ve chosen to display duplicate school pictures from years past or have a fondness for select pictures from the toddler years that may be over representative of one child by chance. So be it. Life ain’t fair. (Side note: Ain’t ain’t a word until sometimes it is.)
Teaching my children through a ‘tit for tat’ mentality is a good primer for life. And it ties into my favorite quote of all time, of which I’ve posted before, in that, “Comparison…is the cardinal sin of modern life. It traps us in a game we can’t win. Once we define ourselves in terms of others, we lose the freedom to shape our own lives.” The best life lessons are the ones learned at home; A place where children learn the harsh reality that, much like home, the universe isn’t ‘tit for tat’ either. Nope. Rhyme and reason stop making sense when we graduate from fairy tales. And that, my friends, is a full-circle moment. Life is not a fairy tale.
One of the rare exceptions: new winter coats.