When I envisioned being a parent I always saw moments like those that are depicted in the Johnson and Johnson commercials about baby products. You know, the ones where it is all special and lovely, where the baby doesn't ever cry and always seems to be cooing or sleeping. After that stage I thought we would enter the land of fun and laughter, where the dad is grilling in the backyard and I'm juggling getting the rest of dinner ready while stopping to kick a soccer ball around with the kids. Or I'm sitting in the audience at a violin recital with my hands covering my mouth and trying not to cry at the sheer beauty of it all.
Reality is harsh.
My babies hardly cooed, the second one cried so much and was so demanding I thought I crossed the line into hell, sleep-what was that again?, grilling at our house consists of me alternately yelling at the kids to clean their crap off the kitchen table and telling the husband to stay FOCUSED (do you hear me honey? focus.) on the grill and keep his hands off the combine until after dinner. To put it bluntly, it is less than a picnic once you have kids.
It becomes even less intriguing when your kids leave the home nest and go out into society and find friends. I'm not talking about teenage kids and their friends, I'm talking about the younger set, the elementary aged set, the impressionable bunch, the ones that are just learning how to interact socially. These are the children that are looking to us to teach them how to behave in our culture. And although they won't admit to watching our every move-they are, all the time. As a parent I have realized that it is my JOB to provide proper cues and gentle criticism when appropriate.
Why other parents have not found this necessary confounds me.
For the past three days we have had a friend of my daughter's calling us at all hours. The first six times she called (on day 1) she did not leave a message and due to our faulty call-ID we just knew part of this phone number was continuing to call our house. She finally left a message for said daughter to call her back, which she did. The girl was not calling to set up a play date or for anything in particular, she was b-o-r-e-d and apparently rather than find an activity for her to do the parent in charge handed over a cell phone for her to amuse herself with. ALL DAY LONG. In fact, about five minutes after my daughter hung up the phone she called back again, for nothing. This morning she started early at 7:05.
This is where I assume that a conscious parent would step in and politely tell his daughter that leaving one message is appropriate and that her friend would call her back when she is available and then take away the phone. Take away the darn phone! I don't want to have to parent this girl, I should not have to answer the next call and tell her to stop. For Pete's Sake already!