Perhaps because I’m a child of the 70’s, I think even though my parents were crazy, the way we were raised was best. Parents today seem generally too permissive. I don’t know a lot about it yet, but with the “Everyone’s a Winner” thing, kids are learning you can get what you want by phoning it in. We’re breeding an entire generation of people with a sense of entitlement. Sigh.
Cool Dad had a (sort of) long lost person from his past who showed up in town last winter and asked to meet up at a hotel in Crystal City. Cool Dad wasn’t looking forward to it but I said, “Oh, let’s go, let’s bring the baby and when the inevitable tantrum starts we can just jet out.”
We met the long lost person, his wife and their 7 year old. What happened next was the most ridiculous display of non-parenting I’ve ever seen. The couple’s son was yelling at the mom and dad – right in their faces – the entire time. “I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING OUT TO DINNER!!!! Mom. Mom. Mom! MOM! MOMMMMM!!!!!!!!!! LET’S GO.” Then he threw his jacket right in her face. This went on for 25 minutes and the parents just sat there smiling and chatting away, acting like the spawn of Satan wasn’t threatening to pull the pin. They didn’t say a word to him, not even a warning glance in his direction. God forbid this sniveling little bastard be bored. I spent hours upon hours in the waiting room at the Shippan Racquet Club in the 70’s listening to elevator music and waiting for my mother to play several games of tennis with some old hag while I watched. I didn’t have an iphone, ipod, ipad, ivideo, iball, ifriend, or anything else in the i-family to entertain me.
Cool Dad and I could not escape fast enough. We made note that if our kid ever behaved like that, well, there would be hell to pay.
In contrast to today’s non-parenting / the-kid-is-never-wrong style, we had an experience this past weekend with 1950’s parenting when we took our bi-weekly guilt trip to see Cool Dad’s mom. The Pirate hates the car seat, so the hour and 15 minute drive with her screaming is enough to make anyone dive into the bottom of a bottle of Xanax. We were happy to get there and free the Pirate. Unfortunately, she went straight to another prison. We weren’t there for five minutes when we both heard this bellowing “NOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT OR YIAYIA WILL PUT YOU IN THE CORNER.” It pretty much went like that for the rest of the afternoon. Poor Little Pirate. She wasn’t even doing anything bad – just carrying around a jar of sea salt that was sealed. I was looking at Cool Dad when his mother was yelling at our 15 month old and I could see him physically recoil. He didn’t have to say it – I already knew.
As we were trying to run out the door, Yiayia gets out the obligatory mail that she needs Cool Dad’s help in decoding. It’s usually just class action lawsuit notices and she has to be promised several times she’ll still get her $3 even if she throws the card away. Cool Dad sat down at the table, Yiayia went into this cabinet and pulled out these really old reading glasses and the two of them began reviewing the mail. I had to laugh. It was like we were back in the 50’s all afternoon. And not the good, mid-century modern 50’s with Heywood Wakefield Coffee Tables, Hula Girl Dashboard Ornaments and Atomic Art Deco. No, we were in something like the Korean War 1950’s. It was hell.
On the way home, this:
Cool Dad: That was the tipping point. I don’t want to go back there. That brought back all sorts of memories. Not good ones, either.
Bad Mommy: I knew we were done for when Charles Nelson Reilly showed up.
Cool Dad: She just got finished telling us she has 20/20 vision then she pulls out these glasses bigger than her head.
Bad Mommy: They came out of the same cabinet with her parenting books. Well, look, it could be worse. At least she talks to us – unlike my parents.
Cool Dad: Well, the relationship we have with your parents isn’t looking so bad right now.
So um, I don’t want to say that today’s parenting sucks because it’s too permissive or that 50’s parenting sucks because it was too strict, but, uh, yeah. Wait. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Somewhere between the 70’s and 80’s there’s an optimal parenting style. And, I’m bringing it back into style.