When Jack was 3, he and I had a battle of wills. I insisted he stay at the table until he finished one baby carrot. He did not want to eat his baby carrot. He sat at that damn table for over 45 minutes taking miniscule “bites” of that pathetic baby carrot. I left the table and put baby Quinn to bed. Jeff left the table and did the dinner dishes (not really but that’s how I’d like to remember it). Jack sat. He did not cry. He did not fuss. Nor did he chew. He sat. Eventually, he ate ½ of the baby carrot (or fed it to the dog, I can’t be sure) and I let him off the hook because honestly I was sick of both Jack and the baby carrot.
At a later pediatrician appointment, I mentioned this event to the doctor. She looked at me condescendingly and asked, “Do you think the nutrition he got from that one half of baby carrot was worth that fight? With children, you really need to pick your battles wisely.”
That may be the best piece of parenting advice I have ever received. It is easy to get hung up on stupid battles with our stupid children. And boy, my children can be soooooooooooooo stupid.
Imagine if you will an 11 year old boy choosing to wear shorts to school when it is 40 degrees out even though he has drawers full of pants that would keep him warm. I don’t know why any child would do that. But Jack does. He did it from 6th through 8th grade. I thought about fighting that battle. But I didn’t. If he wanted to freeze, let him freeze. Heck, as long as I was warm why should I care. Let him wear shorts! Just call me Kate Antoinette.
When Quinn sported an ensemble that made Salvador Dali roll over in his grave, did I freak out and think OMG everyone is going to think that I don’t buy my daughter clothes that match? No I did not. I took a deep breath and wished we didn’t look so much alike so I could deny any relation. If she wanted to look like a box of crayolas threw up, let her look like Crayola vomit. Just call me Kate Antoinette.
When at age 6, CJ had a thing for tutus, did I put my foot down and refuse to let him leave the house looking like a prima ballerina? No, I did not. Instead, I proudly held my head high and thought, I am a mom who knows what battles to pick, as we wandered through Target to the chorus of snickers and giggles. Let him look silly. Just call me Kate Antoinette. Jeff however would never go anywhere with CJ in a tutu so he has not earned the name Jeff Antoinette.
Homework is another battle I refuse to have. Do it, don’t do it, I don’t care. That fight is between you and your teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I nag, I remind, I pester but I won’t fight about it. I will always provide help if I am asked and I will reach out to the teacher on my child’s behalf if something goes terribly wrong or if they need more time, but I do not fight with my kids about it. After all, I have graduated elementary/middle/high school. I did my homework and almost always turned it in on time….almost. Let them fail school. Just call me Kate Antoinette.
I also refuse to fight about food. If you don’t like what we’re having for dinner, I honestly don’t care. Don’t eat it. You won’t starve if you miss one stinking meal. My kitchen is not a restaurant and I am not making 6 different entrees. Bon fuckin’ appetit. Just call me Kate Antoinette.
Refusing to engage in some of these battles used to require remarkable restraint on my part. Honestly, I did find myself upset about the fact that my kids walked out of the house looking like idiots, weren’t eating their vegetables and went to school without completed homework. Then, I sat down and thought long and hard about why. I realized that I was worried what other people would think. After all what kind of mom lets her child out in 40 degree weather in shorts?? Years ago, I would have judged that mom. I would have said bad things about her to other moms. I would have thought about calling DCFS. Now I realize that mom is the smart mom; the mom that chooses her battles wisely. Once, I realized that and let it go, parenting became much, much easier.
That’s not to say that I don’t fight any battles. Clearly, I refuse to fight about clothing…unless it is something I have seen you wear for the past few days and it stinks or we are going to a dressy function. In that case you can call me Mean Mom.
If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s a rude child. The manner battle is a battle I will fight to the death…and I will not be the one dying I assure you. If you want something from me, I expect a please and thank you. I hold visiting children to that standard as well, no matter how badly this embarrases my own. Any kid that walks into my kitchen and tells me they “want milk,” hears, “Really, I want polite visitors, guess neither of us is getting what we want.” Just call me Mean Mom
I also expect to be spoken to respectfully. I will not be yelled at or spoken to rudely by anyone other than my own mother. If you can’t treat me with respect, I can’t feed, cloth or take you anywhere you want to go….and if you really piss me off, I may just keep your allowance. Mean Mom has spoken.
P.S. NabloPoMoW8Lo Challenge – I woke up this morning to the dogs barking up a storm. A friend was dropping off her 2 young daughters for the day as her husband is out of town and she is way behind on her work. I overslept and welcomed them into my home while clad in pjs and hair sticking straight up…I got the girls settled, made myself some coffee and tried to get my day going. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized I DIDN’T WEIGH MYSELF. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get right on the scale in the morning. So today I have nothing to report. HUMPH.