Whose Job Is It, Anyway?

This is a quote I just took off of one of my favourite blogs:
"I completely and violently disagree with this concept of ‘weekend parenting’. Parenting, in my humble opinion, is not just about hanging out with the kids and having a great time – that is what they have friends for. And I am of the firm view that I am not interested in being Ayaan’s friend (at least not until he has become an adult in every sense of the word) – my job is to be his mother." -Rohini, Mama Says So
Rohini, a full-time working mom, was writing in response to an article about "weekend parenting," a new trend emerging in the middle class in India. Sadly, it's a trend that has been in existence here for years, whether it has been called by that name or not.

I pity the parents who do not feel that it is important to participate in their children's daily lives. "Quality time" is what happens at the most unexpected moments of "quantity time."

Today, on the way home from our walk, Jude came out with one of his "Did you know...?" questions.

"Mom, did you know that bats eat mosquitoes? And flies?"

"Yep, you're right."

"What else do they eat?"

"You know what, I'm not exactly sure. Why don't we look it up?"

We were approaching our front yard, so we went right into the house and looked up bats in a Childcraft book on animals. It gave us a brief overview, but it wasn't enough to satisfy Jude--he wanted to look them up on the internet, too. So Wikipedia was our next resource, where we learned all kinds of things about bats, including the fact that they are viviparous, like humans. This reminded me that Jude has asked several times lately about how babies come out of people, so while we were on Wikipedia, I looked up the "pregnancy" entry and was able to show him diagrams of a baby growing in utero, and explain how when the baby got big enough, the mommy pushed it out through the vagina. He was amazed at how small babies start out, and how weird they looked at first. Then he asked me a few questions about when he was a baby. Finally, he felt like he was satisfied for the moment, and we went to make some sandwiches for lunch.

This is only one "quality" moment of many that hide in the quantity of moments in my day where only a parent will do. For instance, I teach my children the Alphabet Song or other "educational" songs by singing it to them while I brush their teeth. An alternative caregiver, or even a well-trained teacher, cannot replace having a parent involved in their children's lives day in and day out, who cares way more than anyone else about what their child learns, what attitudes they have and who wants to keep their love of learning and curiosity alive.
E.g. Jason and I believe that talking about having a baby is NOT taboo for a five-year-old, but some people may have been uncomfortable answering that question for someone else's child the way I did for my own.

Also, how can one hope to correct anything they see that they don't like about their children in two days on a weekend?

If all a parent wanted was a hobby and a tax deduction, start a home-based network marketing business. There are plenty of "daily" parents who would love to share their kids with you for a few hours on the weekend so you can get your "kid fix." But those are the parents who are NOT willing to give up their rights to train their own children 98% of the time.

Thank you, Rohini, for your thoughtful post on this subject. I hope that it will help some of your readership re-evaluate their own priorities.

Grand Champion or Stuff On a Rock*

Rohini tagged me a couple of weeks ago. I finally got it done.

Height of cruelty - The weather these days. Whoever decided it would be good for homo sapiens to inhabit this latitude?

Height of reward - Today, Jude wrote his name ALL BY HIMSELF. Okay, so I verbally reminded him that there is a stem on the D. And I helped him with the U. But he did the J and the E on his own.

Height of challenge - Noah will not decide to potty train. I've been making him run around bum-naked for the last few days, which is about the only way he will make any effort to go to the toilet when he needs to relieve himself. Unless he's watching a movie, unfortunately. (Don't ask what the wet spot on the slip-cover is. You don't want to know.)

Height of vigilance - Between Noah and the dog, who has now decided that the basement is her own personal litter box, I have been at the height of vigilance for the last little while to make sure everyone toilets where they should.

Height of dieting - While I never used to pay much consideration to what I ate, as long as I managed to work in the four food groups, you are all aware that diet is no small matter in our house anymore. Due to how different it is from "common wisdom," it often makes me feel like somewhat of an outcast, except among the "converted" (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

Height of comparison - I am tired of how people compare their children to everyone else's--and don't mind telling you if your own are not measuring up to the developmental milestones that theirs are hitting. So, if you do that, stop it!

Height of rivalry - Just before bed tonight, Noah was on Jason's lap, and they were rough-housing. As soon as Noah got down, who was up there but Jude, asking to get the same treatment. My brother can't have fun that I don't get to have! This is a small snapshot, in a very small way, of what goes on all day in our house, 24/7.

Height of anger - A few weeks ago, I made a vegetable soup that had a fairly high concentration of beets in it. Due to colour, or texture, or whatever reason, Jude decided he didn't like it. So, he got to sit at the kitchen table until whatever amount Jason had decreed was consumed (I was teaching during supper that night.) When I came out of the office after 7, Jude was still sitting at the table. I heated my soup and ate it, and he was still at the table. A few minutes later, Jude runs into the kitchen to say he ate the rest of his soup. He was carrying the empty bowl in his hands, but I noticed there was some soup along the base of it--this immediately made me suspicious. Sure enough, he had dumped 1/4 bowl of beet soup on the light beige carpet under the dining room table!! I think you can guess who it was that hit the height of anger at that point. (Don't ask what that red stain is under the dining room table. You won't want to hear the rant that follows.)

Height of table manners - Jude looked at me with his mouth full of scrambled egg this morning, then opened wide for me to enjoy the view. Reminded me of a Calvin and Hobbes strip.

Height of choice - Usually, I do not have a problem making decisions. When ordering at a restaurant, I usually get the first thing that grabs my attention. When buying clothes, I pick out my top faves, then narrow it down by "least-fave" until the dollar sign is within my budget.

But when I am making up my monthly Scrap Club order, indecision strikes. Patterned paper or cardstock? Neutrals or brights? Pewter accents or brass? Grosgrain or organdy?

Not a pretty sight.

Height of choosiness - Last week Jabin loved his scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. Today we were out of cheddar, so I put in slivers of cream cheese.

Apparently, this was not a good substitute.

Height of bossiness - When Noah is doing something that displeases Jude, (such as happily playing by himself and therefore ignoring his older sibling), Jude tends to lose any tentative grip he may have had on self-control. That's when I start hearing a lot of "NO! NOAH! GIVE ME THAT!!"

Height of provocation - Either that, or he will do anything he can to get attention from Noah--which usually results in Noah whining, which draws attention from me, too. Go figure.

Height of endorsement - "Mom, what you making?"

"Cream of Asparagus Soup." (I had never made it before.)

"Oh. I like that one!"

And he did.

Height of embarrassment - Seriously too tired to dig up anything like this from the depths right now. I tend to block off things that were that embarrassing to me, and they only come up when I am in a similar situation again. (If you want to know this, ask my dad. He could probably remember all kinds of stuff I find embarrassing. But he might not tell you.)

Height of irony - Well, I could point out again the number of junk food and candy machines in the doctor's offices and hospital waiting areas. Or the fact that we have lived here a year on the 22nd of December, and I finally know the phone number of the friendliest neighbours we have.

Height of starting early - I was going to start piano lessons with Jude on Monday, but I got the flu and barely made it through the two regularly scheduled students I did have to teach. However, I just got this new course for another little four-year-old guy that started, and it's awesome for pre-reading kids. I asked Jude if he wanted to take lessons, and he is really excited about it. So, hopefully, I'll get him on it tomorrow.

Height of daredevilry - Boys are always a surprise. And they are always trying things that make mother's hearts quake in fear. Not that I've become immune, but I'm having a hard time of thinking of a specific example right now. At least, nothing that wouldn't seem a lot lamer on the page than it was in real life.

Height of cleanliness - This is something I haven't seen since the birth of my first child. As much as I try to make sure the entire house and as much of the family as I am responsible for are as clean as possible all the time, there are certain times and things that I have to say, "That doesn't matter so much right now."

So, if you drop by unexpectedly (or even expectedly), I am going to assume you came to see me, not rate my housekeeping.

Height of grooming - Last week when I was babysitting the Burdick kids, all five of the older children (their three and my two older boys) spent a good twenty minutes doing their hair with water and brushes. Bailey's mohawk was my favourite.

Height of participation - I keep meaning to get a chore chart system for Jude set up, now that he's four, but it hasn't happened yet. Soon! I hope!

I tag Grafxgurl and Anne. When they are done galavanting to all the Asian countries in existence and cleaning up the mess in their basements, respectively, of course.


*According to Canadian comedien Norm MacDonald, these are the two categories of results when you go cliff diving.