I won’t die on most hills: thoughts on parenting
I had five 10-y.o. baseball players in the car last week, with this conversation:
Me: Hey Tennyson, get your stuff off my expensive tennis racket!
Baseball Player #2: Cool, you play tennis?
Me: Yeah. I have a 10 and 1 record so far this year. I lost one because my doubles partner barely had a pulse that day.
Baseball Player #3: How does it work? Do you have the same partner all the time?
Me: No, we have a team captain and she makes the assignments.
Tennyson: Why don’t you just be the captain?
Me: Because. I’m the only single mom on the team and the only working mom. I don’t have time.
BP #2: Where do you work?
Me: At home. I work for myself.
Ten: She’s the GreenSmoothieGirl! Duh! I’ve told you guys that! Mom, I’m your living, walking advertisement.
BP #3: Are they good? Or gross?
Ten: It depends. They’re good if you first put chocolate powder in it. And then vanilla powder.
[I try not to laugh out loud. WHAT IS VANILLA POWDER?]
Because I’ve got a few things that are really important to me, I try to be chill wherever I can, to earn the right to be an occasional stickler.
Last night, we went down 140 North in Lindon. Since I served a three-year term on the Planning Commission, I happen to know that, at a 10% grade, it’s the steepest road in our city. So for a decade, I have played a game that some of my kids like better than others. (My 17-y.o. son may or may not be scarred for life due to this game.)
As we start down it, picking up speed, I pretend I’ve completely lost control of the car. “OMG OMG, THE BRAKES WENT OUT!” I scream like I’m in a horror flick and mock-cover my head and lean to the right as if trying to avoid the inevitable crash. I flail my arms and fake-cry. The car crosses the median line, veering off-course. (It sounds dangerous. It’s really not; I’m in full control.)
After we did that on the way to Baseball Player #5’s house, we decided to do it all again, only they were in on the joke. They would all scream their heads off, too, as the car looked to be careening out of control.
I trained my rearview mirror on Baseball Player #5.
So much fun! After the joke was up, a whole carload of us laughing hysterically–poor little Dallin was a good sport. Weakly, he claimed: “Heh…heh…I wasn’t scared.”
I try to be the fun mom, not uptight about stuff that doesn’t matter. Good parties, chats with my kids’ friends, always up for a trip to Jump On It or the movies.
You’ve heard psychologists say that as kids get older, you get to control fewer and fewer things. So I choose not to die on most hills.
Sometimes I let go of things that are actually heartbreaking for me. Right after my divorce, I was overwhelmed and let all 4 kids quit piano. A year later, 3 of them begged me for lessons and have practiced on their own ever since. I just told my oldest son that he doesn’t have to go to mid-week church activities. He’s old enough to make the choice himself.
Carefully evaluating which things I want to go to the mat for, I can hold my standards firm on the Big 3 that I care about. One, decent grades. Two, do what you say you’ll do and be responsible (everyone has work to do, and we do it well). And three, we eat right. I’m firm on those three and not much else.
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