Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How To Raise Perfect Children

Step 1: Do NOT look at me!  You won’t find any answers here.  I am not raising any perfect children.  I do not want to raise any perfect children.  I do not have any perfect children.  I’m just an imperfect mother raising imperfect children. 

The political fiend that I am, I liken child-rearing to the strategies of the last three presidents.

1)     Dive in, sacrifice everything and everyone else and still make colossal mistakes.
2)     Realize you are in over your head, say screw it and let the chips fall where they may.
3)     Do your best, but still focus on pertinent relationships; learn from your mistakes and move on.

If you have to ask, it’s Clinton, Bush and Obama, in that order!

I was the last of my sisters to become a mother, and none of them had the decency to tell me that this was going to be the most challenging feat I was about to encounter.  And of course, being the youngest, I just assumed, “If they can do it, I can it do it too.”  Being the youngest, I naturally thought that I’m going to do it better because I would have learned their strengths and weaknesses. 

Well, somebody sure knocked some reality into me.  And now that I’m a mother I know for sure that if my mother had just let us be, she could have saved herself years of stress.

Of course every parent has deal breakers.  For me, education, respect, good manners, proper hygiene and chores top the list.  Any child of mine needs to get those in check in order for us to have a harmonious home life.  I try not to make a big deal about the rest of the stuff that annoy and irritate me sometimes because at the end of the day, I cannot change anyone’s DNA.  Sure some lashes on somebody’s butt will make me feel good for a while, if nothing else is working, but seriously, how many times can you beat somebody for the same infraction?

The reason why parenting is the hardest job is because it’s a lifetime investment. The average parent doesn’t separate her emotions when the child turns 18, gets married or even dies.  Most jobs last until retirement.  Many marriages end in divorce.  Bringing a child into this world is FOREVER.

Look, my biggest priority in life is to be happy.  And yeah it’s broad, but if I can just instill that in my children, I think my mission as a mother would be accomplished.  I can only do my best, the rest is pretty much up to them.  And to get to that, I try as much as I can to be myself and allow the children to do the same.

But back to the topic at hand.

What is perfect anyway?  It’s way too subjective.  I don’t want them to go to the perfect schools. I don’t want them to marry the perfect mates. I don’t want them to have perfect children.

My husband and his family got stuck with me.  Why on earth would I put that much pressure on my children to find the perfect mate when they will be happy with the perfect mate for them?  It’s also up to them to attend the perfect school for them and have the perfect job for them.

Actually now that I have your attention, I just want to drop a few lines about the joys of motherhood 21st Century style.

Obviously, I’m not done raising my children, but so far I have a few pointers on now to raise children guilt free.  Now before I start, a word of caution:  Everyone will not agree with me.  In fact, some of you will totally feel compelled to give me a piece of your mind, but what the heck.

When they get on your nerves, and you have tried everything possible under the sun to be patient and kind, do not feel badly if you forget that they are not your shipmates and utter a few choice words.  And those of you who are thinking, "Why can’t she say dagnabbit instead of bad words?", just remember that most things are easier said than done.  Plus even if I had enough patience to remember to say dabnabbit, I would be laughing so much that who would take me seriously.

Do you remember that clip from one of Bill Cosby’s acts when he showed how his wife’s face contorted as she dealt with the kids?  What the good doctor neglected to mention was that Mrs. Cosby wasn’t always the elegant, sophisticated lady we see in public.  I mean, do you honestly believe she never dropped the F bomb when dealing with those five kids?  Ever??

People on the outside looking in always seem to think that they have the answer.  Just the other day, my youngest, the source of my gray hair and stress stated that his kids are going to be well disciplined.  Are you kidding me!!!  It’s not that easy, Buddy, and I have come to the realization that one way to get out of this alive is to not take it so seriously.

When you find yourself at their chorus or band recital or musical and you try your best to stay awake and it’s not always possible, don’t feel guilty.  Let’s face it…..Mozart they are not!

So what if I’m at a recital and I’m the only mother who cannot wait for the torture to end.  It’s not that I don’t support my children.  It’s not that I’m a bad mother.  It’s just that if I have to hear someone blows the incorrect chord on a trumpet one more time, I’m gonna scream.  I mean, these kids knew from day one that they would be having a concert.  Would it kill them to practice a little bit more so they can do their best?  And I know that they WILL get a standing ovation regardless of how they sound.  After all in these days, just showing up counts as much as really showing up to work.

And am I really that harsh for thinking that if a kid throws or kicks away a ball one more time during a game that his mother should just be quiet instead of saying GOOD TRY, BILLY.  A good try is when Billy hits the baseball but somebody catches it.  It’s when Billy kicks the ball but the goalie stops it.  It’s when Billy aims for the basket but somebody blocks him.  A good try cannot be Billy at the base and holding the bat and is struck out without him even trying.

People say kids learn from example and will do what you do and say what you say.  I beg to differ.  I pick stuff from off the floor that I didn’t drop.  I clean the house without being asked.  I cook and do the laundry.  I read.  My kids don’t always follow my lead. 

But I refuse to yearn for perfection when it is elusive.  So what if my youngest has a bad temper, so what if my oldest knows every button to push with his siblings, so what if my daughter can strike a sneak attack on her brothers.  These are just issues I have to deal with, talk about and monitor.

If I were “blessed” with quiet, perfect children, I would be the one going through the terrible twos.  Yeah, TWO decades of climbing the walls and pulling my hair out.  I don’t want a boring house.  I want a house with kids a bit on edge.  A house with kids a little crazy sometimes, a little loud sometimes.

I want kids that are perfectly healthy and perfectly happy.  Because perspectively speaking the last thing I want is to pray for normal when my “perfect” kids have weirded out on me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

As Long As They Keep Their Gayness to Themselves

I know…  I know…  We are all evolving when it comes to this “gay” thing.  And people who talk like that have clearly just stepped on the evolution scale.  They realize that there is nothing they can do about the existence of homosexuals.  They want to do the “Christian” thing and accept their presence, but they just cannot come to grips with it.  They are not ready to admit that they have to share this world with homosexuals.  They want to be progressive, but just cannot shake their discomfort with the whole concept.

Look, I’m not judging; well that’s not my intention.  And I admit that every time I too see a gay couple casually engaging in PDA (public display of affection), I do a double take.  I’m just still not accustomed to it, so I’m usually taken aback; but I don’t condemn. 

People who have a problem with homosexuality think that in a perfect world, there would be no gays.  But in whose perfect world?  My perfect world?  Because in my perfect world, there would be no bigots.  In a homosexual’s perfect world?  Because in his perfect world, he would not be ostracized.  So whose perfect world?  In someone else’s perfect world, people would rinse their plates off after meals; people would not keep on their nighties all day long (after all they are not called dayties); and people would just put all the spare hangers in one spot in the closet. 

My bad!  That’s still my perfect world. 

And don’t get me started with “Christians” who say they love the sinner but hate the sin.  According to John 8:7, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."  Yes, I said it.  No one's sin is bigger or smaller than another's.  Sure some crimes are worse than others; but sin is sin.  And can you imagine if a gay person were to call out a liar, a thief or an adulterer?  I could just hear it now.  They would forget their Christianity and call him every name in the book.

Since it is extremely difficult for us humans to see our own faults, while having no problem at all seeing others, how about we try being compassionate or even a little bit empathetic?  How about we walk a mile in their shoes and stop accusing them of being the worst people on the planet?  Yeah, accept that this is not a choice or a fad.  See that they are people like us who happen to love others who are the same sex as they.

Look, not because someone does something differently means he or she is different. It simply means that they do it differently from you. For instance, I eat pretty much anything, and I have no problem eating anything together either.  If I have stewed liver, and I have a sweet bun, who is going to tell me that I can’t have a bun and liver sandwich?  It doesn’t make me nasty.  It doesn’t make me gross.  It doesn’t mean that I am different.  It just means that I have a different eating habit than another person or other people.

Seriously.  Who wants to be judged by what they do in the privacy of their own bedrooms?  If we are going to vilify same sex activities, then we should be prepared to have others cast aspersions on our bedroom activities too.  After all many heterosexuals engage in a plethora of bedroom pastimes.  Doesn’t it stem from plain old missionary to hanging from the ceiling fan to swinging altogether?  And don’t try to figure out where on the spectrum I lie (pun intended).  Just stay with me here.  We want our bedroom activities to be private (well most of the times), so we should grant homosexuals the same privacy too.

When did it become okay for their characters to be publicly assessed because of what they do in private?  When did it become okay for them to have no privacy at all?  Why is it okay for a person to like and respect another, but as soon as his or her sexual orientation is known, all esteem disappears?  How can some people not see that being homosexual doesn’t define a person any more than being left handed does?  Being homosexual doesn’t define a person any more than being a certain ethnicity does.  Not any more than being in a certain socioeconomic class, and not any more than attending a certain church.

For some reason homosexuality is the last prejudice that has remained in modern society.  An individual will easily attend a wedding of a womanizer, knowing full well that he will continue cheating the day after his honeymoon, knowing that he has brought his mistress to the ceremony than to accept the marriage of two people of the same sex.  For the life of me I don’t get it.  I don’t get how two people can be in love, have mutual respect for each other but their union is regarded 1000% lower than another couple who is clearly not in a harmonious, loving relationship, but happen to be a man and a woman.

So for those who say that they can be as gay as they want, as long as we don’t have to see it, please know that you are not being humane or tolerant.  Know that you are simply being ignorant.  Also know that being gay is nothing new.  More and more people are just accepting it, so more and more gays are feeling more and more comfortable living in openness.

Lastly as we get older we should become more developmentally mature.  So we should know that not all sophisticated ladies in public are always ladylike in bed.  And that some publicly indecent people can be subservient in private.  Let’s not assume that all homosexuals are pedophiles.  I don’t have time for a professional or reputable study, but you and I both know that most pedophiles are heterosexuals. 

Don’t not vote for President Obama this time because he publicly supports same sex marriage.   Vote for him because you believe he will make your lives easier or don’t vote for him because you don’t think he can make your lives easier.  But don’t let his stance on gay union or gay marriage deter you from performing your civic duties.

Although I don’t get why homosexuality is the last taboo to be broken, I know that the person who I want to keep whatever he has to himself is the bigot because perspectively speaking hatred causes more hurt than same sex love.