Published Friday, March 15, 2013
There comes a time when every parent has to eat his or her words. And, believe me, they don’t taste very good the second time around. I know because I’ve eaten my share.
Let’s see... I recall saying I would never let my child ride on the outside of the shopping carts at the grocery store. He ended up riding them like a cowboy on a bucking bronco.
Once I was on a day trip with my friend and her children, the kids were hungry, so she tossed a bag of chips into the backseat, which they promptly devoured. I gasped in horror. I’ll never let my children eat chips for a snack, I thought. Now we buy Pringles by the case.
When my oldest child was born, I said I would never use the microwave to heat her bottle. I was afraid it would zap the nutrients. Of course, by the second child, I was nuking my heart out, and with my third child, I didn’t even bother to heat it up.
These days most of my friends have younger children. Since I have one in college who still speaks to me, that “qualifies” me as the go-to-girl for advice on child-rearing.
My advice to them is simple: Never, under any circumstances, begin a sentence with “My child would never (fill in the blank).”
At a homecoming game when my daughter was in high school, all the senior boys and girls decided to “paint up,” which, as you know, means painting their bodies with the school’s colors. The boys were shirtless and had baggy pants falling below their bottoms, but that wasn’t the issue with a group of moms that I was with the next day. The issue was the girls — they all wore sports bras.
One mom declared loudly and vehemently that she would never allow her daughter to leave the house looking like that. The others quickly agreed, expressing their disbelief.
“What kind of parents would let their child do that?” they asked.
My face felt hot, knowing my daughter had been right in the thick of it at the game. As the crowd of women reached fever-pitch, I grabbed my friend, Dana, and pulled her outside.
“I just can’t take any more of that,” I said. “They have no idea.”
“Do you know what they are saying in there?” I asked Gail, who has grown children.
I told her, and we laughed heartily, as she relayed all of the things she said her kids would never do.
“Those poor fools!” we said of the women.
In the meantime, I noticed Dana had grown very quiet. Her face was red as she sheepishly raised her hand.
“It was me,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“I started it. I was the one who said I would never let my child do that.”
I hugged her and said, “It’s OK, honey. I doubt your daughter would ever even want to leave the house dressed like that. You have nothing to worry about.”
As Dana walked away, feeling better, Gail and I winked at each other. She has eight years before she has to eat those words. Let her enjoy them.