“Bottles, knives, guns”

“Bottles, knives, guns”

Have you seen the video taken during the recent unrest in Baltimore of the angry mother repeatedly striking her son? Have you read the comments that follow the video? I’d say about a 50/50 split of (generally) ” no wonder these kids are violent, look at how they are being treated” and “you go Mama, I’d do the same thing”.
I don’t get to corner the market on worrying about my kids. As far as I’ve experienced, every parent worries. In fact I think we are the generation of most worried parents. Not only do we have the inter webs, with their predators and pedaphiles, corporations creeping around every billboard, sporting event and school cafeteria, but there are more books, articles and advice about how to be a parent than there have been in any other generation. Throw in some competing theories on vaccines, Facebook armchair parents, public vs private education, and deciding whether you are a helicopter parent or a not present enough parent and you’ve got a nice recipe for parental anxiety. And sorry ’bout it dads, but most of the guilt (though not all) is reserved for Momma.
What is a conscientious parent to do? Involve your kids in sports, but be sure to talk to them both about bullying and being bullied, how dangerous sports drinks are, and subliminal marketing. Send your kids to a public/private hybrid school that embraces diversity and uses test scores only to emphasize your child’s potential. Grow your own organic heirloom tomatoes for your family salsa making nights.
Or let them go play on the concrete foundation of the rusty, bacteria covered swing set, then come home when the street lights come on. Let them make their own lunches and walk themselves to school long after you have already gone to work. Let them watch MASH (reruns) or Scandal while eating TV dinners on TV trays in the living room. Let them do their homework on the bus, while trying to ignore the kid in the back seat that is coming down off a bad LSD trip. Learn about sex from their older friends, who may or may not be making everything up, either way, it sounds (hopefully) like a disgusting act that they would never willingly involve themselves in.
Now, I’m not literally suggesting we drive to the beach while the driver and passenger chain smoke and we keep the windows up even in the back seat because the A/C is on or that we embrace co-ed sleepovers just because, hey! it’s old school to think of relationships as only occurring between a boy and a girl, but sometimes I wish the lines were clearer. I suppose really what I wish is that I didn’t feel so obligated to pay so much attention to the lines and constantly adjust my definition of good, better, best.
Modern parenting is harder than it has to be and we all have these extra layers of worries. Divorce, death, dire economic circumstances, abuse, exposure to so many things via the internet, capitalist corporations with only their bottom line as a moral barometer, and our own over exposure to the misguided idea that there is, in fact, “A” right way to raise your kids.
Single parents, divorced parents, gay parents, foster parents, grandparents, let us boycott the onslaught of parenting advice that tries to pigeonhole us into a hierarchy of parenting success. The idea of perfect parents is a myth. We are doing our best, struggling and making mistakes. Right? Without compromising what you’ve developed as your recipe for parenting success don’t forget to be compassionate about the parents around you.
Would I throw punches at my hypothetical son if he was walking across police lines? Honestly, I don’t know. But I think I understand why, in that moment, that momma made that choice. Whether you parent with “Love and Logic” or by the seat of your pants, most parents want the same end result: to have our kids grow up safe, happy and successful.


2 responses »

  1. Parenting is the most important job we have. However, the babies come without an instruction manual. Even if they, each manual would have to be created for each child. One size does not fit all.


  2. You left off global climate change from your list of worries. You can thank me later ☺.
    I really doubt that a son (or daughter ) of yours would cross a police line, but if he/she did I’m thinking that you would not punch him/her.


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