On our Friday night date night last week, Don and I had a "come to Jesus" talk about child rearing and how we might do it just a bit better. Granted, we both agree that we are excellent parents of two most excellent daughters and we are a ridiculously happy and really quite well-adjusted family. Plus, we pretty much play for the same team in terms of our child-rearing beliefs and habits. We're both teachers which, frankly, puts us in a pretty good place as parents: a lot of this stuff we had figured out before these two munchkins came into our lives.
In spite of our eldest having a penchant for overdosing refined carbohydrates and our youngest thinking she is a lion, not a human, a mama who doesn't do well with excessive noise (especially in enclosed spaces like cars) and a papa who leaves his socks in odd places all over the house instead of in the hamper, we are as close-to-perfect as most families can hope to get to in this life time. (Okay, as close to perfect as we can hope to get to in this life time.)
One thing that has recently come to my attention, however, is that my daughters go to daddy when they want something, not to mommy. Additionally, my daughters go to daddy when they want something after mommy has said no.
We have solidified our reputations. And they are typical, I know.
Daddy is the softie, push-over as in:
"Sure, you can play on my iPhone; Of course, you can have another cookie; There's no harm in playing basketball or frisbee in the house; There is no need for vegetable matter when we go out for dinner; and What harm could a Sprite do?"
Mommy is the martinet, no-lady as in:
"No, you can't have another piece of cake; no, you cannot play on my iPhone; No, you are not going on a sleepover with a boy in your class (she's eight!); Stop swinging so high - you're going to break your neck; and No, you are not wearing stripes and polka dots together and going to the Friday night school bingo affair even if you like the way it looks!"
As we were drinking our wine in Steamers, our local Cheers bar and a prelude to our weekly just-the-two-of-us dinner, I asked Don if there might be a way that we could have a little role reversal in the yes/no categories just once in a while. Being the wise man that he is, Don saw the sagacity of the suggestion and thought he might be able to say no to his daughters once in a while just so I could fit in a few yeses.
The experiment began last weekend. Charlotte had been wanting to sign up for IXL, a super, math-oriented website (that I highly recommend) because she loves to challenge herself, she's getting into math, but mostly because she loves to play computer games and she loves the positive reinforcement of the little "rewards" that they dole out to her. A membership is a bit expensive, but I also deferred because I think she already has enough computer time.
Don, on the other hand, says, "It's the computer age; she's learning math skills; it's not like she's surfing the net; and it's the monsoon season, for cripes sake. We can't even go outside half of the time even if we want to."
So the next day when Charlotte and I found ourselves alone, I told her, "You know, Daddy thinks it's a bit expensive to sign you up for IXL and we both think you spend a lot of time on the computer. On the other hand, I think it's really kind of good for you to practice your math. I persuaded your daddy to agree so let's get you signed up, okay?"
Yeah! One tick for mommy!
Don played along and our first sneaky experiment may help me reinvent my reputation as not just being the meanie in the family. It's not that I want to play good cop/bad cop: it's just that I want Don to put down his foot before I do once in a while. The problem is, I have a lead foot and it gets put down really fast. My question is: don't all women?
My new start is to become a bit more of a yes woman while still retaining my integrity and high expectations. I also don't want to force the very sweet father of my children to turn into a meanie so this could be a bit of a tight-rope act. But, then again, when isn't parenting a tight-rope act? We already feel like we're in a circus, so I am sure we'll manage it somehow!