Finally! you say, she writes! Yes, it’s true. I know it’s been a while, and I’m sorry. Lots going on around here, including virus, and not much worth writing about. Let’s say I’ve been busy, sick, and under-inspired. But tonight, I am back in the saddle. So to speak.
I have redeemed, somewhat, my reputation as Bad Parent (also known as Chopped Liver). I made my children’s Hallowe’en costumes. Yup, sewed them with my own two hands. They are adorable, too. Aimee wanted to be a black cat, and so I scored a piece of fun fur from the remnant bin and made her a little fuzzy hoodie with ears. I didn’t have enough for the bottoms, so I got a chunk of black fleece (for $3!!) and made some pants, to which I attached a tail. So she will be cute and warm. Now all she needs is some whiskers and a treat bag. She has an indoor version for the school party, and an outdoor version, for trick-or-treating. Our Hallowe’ens are usually pretty chilly.
Jack is going to be a Jedi. He actually looks a lot like Annikin in his get-up. He has a little jerkin-type rag which belts around his waist ($1.50 for a remnant of off-white linen and two snips with the scissors) that he wears with a t-shirt, regular pants and rubber boots. I also made him a billowy brown cloak which looks like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s. Overall, the whole thing makes him look like Frodo from Lord of the Rings, but he is pleased as punch. And I rock, as mom of the month.
It is especially remarkable, because I have never been particularly creative about the costumes. Usually I cop out and buy something, or Gramma (who is a remarkable seamstress) comes up with something adorable and complex and way beyond my meagre skills. But this year, I did it myself. Ha Ha!!
I guess these days I feel like I need redeeming because I feel like a Bad Parent more often than I feel like a Good Parent. I abandon my children at school so I can work full time. I leave the parenting to their father too often. My goodness but if he ever got hit by a bus, those poor kids might as well be orphans. Last week, I sent Aimee to school even though I was pretty sure she had pinkeye. She was getting drops and not likely to be contagious, she was not feeling poorly at all, and she had hand sanitizer and strict instructions to wash her hands frequently, and immediately if she needed to touch her eye. The daycare worker called me. “If it was my child,” she said, “I would come and pick her up.” But Aimee wanted to stay so I let her and now I am a Bad Parent. Even though she ended up being fine.
Jack is another story. I fear for this child’s employability. His behaviour is so miserable lately, that he’s been in time-out more than he’s been out of it. He tests. He missed swimming lessons this week, because he said I was an idiot (possibly true, but you don’t tell someone that). I told him to go sit in the corner and that if I heard one more of the forbidden phrases (the list is growing hourly), he was staying home. “I hate you, mommy,” he said. He stayed home. Too bad for him, too, because it was Parents’ Week and I was going swimming with them. I felt sorry for him. I felt more sorry for Trevor, though, because he was counting on the hour of peace and quiet to study. When Jack’s like that, though, there is no reasoning. No ability to grasp logic. I know we need to be patient and persistent and consistent but some days it really sucks and I wonder what would happen if we just let him run wild.
Another night this week, Aimee was rolling around in her bed, whining and crying. She was able to tell us her throat hurt. We woke her up and told her she needed medicine. Henceforth, an hour-long battle of wills commenced, wherein she whined and cried and screamed and nearly made herself puke, while we bribed and threatened and reasoned. She had a choice, one tiny adult pill, swallowed whole, or two chewable children’s ones. She licked both and gagged and cried some more. After an hour, she took them and fell asleep and had a great night. I couldn’t take the sheer frustration and left embarasingly early in the fight. Trevor took over, possessed as he is of much greater patience. Bless his soul, Trevor got her to take the pills. If I were left to my own defenses, I am sure I would have held her down and plugged her nose until she opened up. Not a good prospect. Not a warm, caring, nurturing environment to grow up in. I went to bed and cried. Aren’t parents supposed to display endless patience? Some days, I feel like an impostor, not a real parent.
I know they will grow out of these and my Aimee gives me hope that Jack will turn out ok. She used to be a holy terror, and has, generally, grown into a really nice little kid. Jack shows signs of being ok, too but he still has a long way to go. I watched two drunken teenagers get arrested on the street right in front of work the other day and thought how easily that could be Jack in 10 years. We as parents have a moral duty to keep trying to mold him into a likeable, productive adult who won’t tell his boss to fuck off if he doesn’t feel like doing something. But holy crap, it is hard. By far the hardest work I’ve ever done. My hat is off to Trevor, because he logs more hours of waking Responsible Person time than I do in a week. And not only is it hard, it has huge implications for the future. The kind of man he becomes will affect all the people he encounters in his life: potential and actual employers, love interests, his children, his neighbours, the people driving beside him down the road. It’s an ominous responsibility, and one not enough parents take seriously (editorial comment, yes).
I love him, and I always will, but there are days when I really don’t want to spend time with him. Weekends feel long sometimes. I worry he will turn out to be like Dr. Smarmy at work, a genuinely unlikeable man. I wonder if Dr. Smarmy’s mother knew he was a jerk or if she was blinded by maternal instinct? Do you think she ever disciplined him for acting like a prick? Maybe I should take hope in the fact that I recognize that the kid has some shitty behaviour patterns right now and I still do my best, in concert with my co-parent, to squash them and metamorphose them into acceptable ones. I have to believe that the parents of truly awful people just never recognized their awfulness on time. I can’t believe they were beyond redemption from the start. I don’t want to be the parent of another Dr. Smarmy. Major responsibility. I’m tired just thinking about it.
In any case, I have redeemed myself with the Hallowe’en costumes, so even if I end up being considered a Bad Parent at the end of the childhood (when I’m dead, I guess, really, and maybe not even then), I think I may have saved myself from being a Horrible Parent. Because regardless of what happens from here on in, even if I let go and Jack ends up being an organized crime denizen running wild with a bad crowd and getting his 12-year-old girlfriend pregnant when he’s 13 (dared I even write that down?), there will always be the Hallowe’en costumes.
PS. I think this is my opening to thank my parents, just as they always said I would, someday (which was right before they wished a child “just like yourself” on me under their breath). Yes, I am thankful to them, and now do have an appreciation for their skills and restraint. I turned out to be a law-abiding, tax-paying, educated, (re)productive citizen. I had a happy, comfortable childhood, oblivious to the frustrations I must have caused them (hopefully my kids are oblivious to all this frustration, although it is so volatile and prevalent, how could they be?). Of course, I was an angel, so I never challenged them like these two challenge me. Right? Em? Moe? Right?