Sunday, July 5, 2009

Uncomfortable Shades of Gray

Thank you, no, I'm not talking about the current state of my hair. I'm talking about that undefinable area between yes and no, right and wrong....mucky, fuzzy gray. That whole "Well, maybe..." or "It depends on the situation...". How can anyone stand firm on anything if the argument is based on maybes? I like for all things to fall into one of two categories, I have no time to sift through a million "what if's". Yet that's where I find myself, standing knee deep in "I can kinda see both sides". Now, I know this sounds rather extreme and I'm sure that I fall in the middle on a lot of topics....but if I had my druthers (look it up) I would eliminate wavering greatly.

What has my knickers in a bunch, you wonder? Well, don't worry, I'll tell you. The other day, Jana from The Meanest Mom blog, switched, keyboards with another blogger Jackie from The Silver Whining. Jackie's post was all about becoming "THAT mom". *editor's note - the rest of this post is heavy on the parenting side. You've been warned*

"THAT mom" is an unrecognizable form of you that comes out when your children are placed in crowded areas with (ominous organ music here) other kids!!! All of a sudden you become your child's own protective bubble, hip checking big kids that get too close, confronting line cutters and swing hogs, discouraging rousing games of tag. You find yourself sending the "evil eye" to all the moms clearly ignoring their ill raised youngins' so they can update their facebook status or delete last years Christmas pics form their camera. You've discovered a disdain for teenagers who thinks it's cool to revisit their youth by hanging (or making) out at a kids playground. How did you get here? What happened to the laid back attitude of 20 minutes ago? Let's just go have a good time, kids. Then BAM! "THAT mom" rears her ugly (yet, right!) head.

All (except for one) comments to Jackie's post were by mom's claiming to be "THAT mom"...yet we can't all be "THAT mom" or else we'd have nothing to complain about, right? So, are those "other" moms too embarrassed to speak up and say that they are the ones who let their kids go and "be kids"? Have they been too shamed to say that line cutting and running full speed near other people is not a huge deal in the scope of life? Will the earth stop rotating if your kid get knocked down or waits an extra 2 minutes for the germ infested biology test known as the water fountain because some other kid line jumped?

Let me be frank here (this is where you insert the line "and let me be Ginger" Ha!). I have been "THAT mom" since I was a scrawny 13 year old babysitter with fear issues. I can remember tucking my charges into bed, then watching the T.V. on mute while holding the cordless phone in my hand and checking on each kid during every commercial break. The $20 was hardly worth the stress it caused me. And it continues today. I have never sat down on the benches surrounding the play area at the mall and my kids are always within eyesight...well, really anywhere we go. And I do find myself wondering where the out-of-control kids mother is as he/she is going the wrong way up the slides or has been ignoring the line of kids building up behind the swing they've been on for 20 minutes.

BUT! I do NOT discipline other children for their misdeeds. Instead I try to redirect my own kids to a different area or activity. I love talking to teenagers, so I have no problem asking them in a way that is not snobby or demeaning to watch the language or to procreate elsewhere. I will protect my kids from obvious at Joe's baseball game, I had Trey sitting on a big blanket near the bleachers and a couple of the older boys (9 or 10) were playing some sort of tackling-until-there-is-bloodshed-involving-a-football-sometimes type game a little too close for my comfort. Like, close enough for me to block Trey from their flying feet. I had no problem asking them to play further away...and no problem explaining to the mom's who wanted to know where their son's had gone off to. I also know that kids are going to get knocked down at a crowded playground and they may not get a swing if they don't run fast enough or splashed in a pool. I'm okay with that.

The only negative comment on Jackie's post was from a woman who thought that "THAT mom" was doing a total disservice to her kids and would be sorry someday when said child can't cope in life. Yikes! That's kind of extreme, too, don't ya think? We're just trying to make sure everyone (and by everyone, I mean MY kids) is having a good time.

So, here I am in the gray area between over protective and under protective. It IS wrong to cut in line. And it IS wrong to let your kid who's 3 feet taller than the maximum height play in the kiddie area. But is a scraped knee inflicted by too-old-for-the play-area kid the end of the world? No. Is my kid doomed for failure if he hears a bad word? No. I'm in the middle of the spectrum here, people. I would like to be totally on one side or the other, because that's comfortable for me, but I cannot commit to one side or the other. It all depends on the situation. Ha!

What about you? Are you "THAT mom"? Are you the "other" mom? Have you ever confronted either a kid or a mom? Has anyone ever confronted your kid or you?


Crafty P said...

i think I'm going to have to read the original post...I'm feeling unclear (still) as to what "that mom" really is like. wait, maybe that means I'm "that mom"... hmmm... maybe it's still too early and my brain cells aren't quite awake!

Crafty P said...

ps. it's actually 6:54 am, not 3:54... your comment time stamp is a wee bit off!

Happy said...

I'm the mom that tries like the dickens to steer her kids from danger whenever possible, but I don't usually freak out over a scraped knee. I'm the mom that tries like the dickens to make sure her kids are obedient in public (or we at least stay out of public). I'm the mom that will want her kid within my field of vision in a play area. For both reasons of safety and behavior watching.

I don't usually confront other moms or children and haven't been confronted yet. But I'm new at this. Teenagers don't bother me. I used to be one.

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