It is clear that for 90 per cent of the time I’m flying blind with this parenting gig. Look we’ve survived 15 years, everyone is still here, there are only a few physical scars (Princess Child had a habit of throwing herself into activities with a little more vigour than her coordination development allowed; hence front teeth damaged on slippery dip, stitches in forehead after going through glass window), the psychological scars are yet to surface, and hey there are plenty of reasons why a person ends up in therapy at 30 and it’s not ALL their mother’s fault! So I reckon my just-getting-by dealing with each issue crisis-by-crisis approach hasn’t been a complete failure.
However, I have moments when I decide I have to be a bit more responsible. Deal with things before they are a problem. Face the fact parenting in the modern world is a vastly different experience than even 20 years ago. Ge’ez if the world would just slow down and stop inventing stuff that gives us parents new problems to deal with it would be great. Just a moratorium on creating anything new for the next six years, until my youngest is off my hands that would be wonderful.
Anyhow, assuming the geeks will continue creating, I need to face up to parenting in the new millenium and try to be a bit more proactive. Here’s what happened when I tried to make an effort.
It’s important to give your children chores, so they learn responsibility and go on to be employable adults. I only gave them one job to do last week cart the groceries from the car to the house and put them away. Yesterday I discovered the source of the odour that had us all gagging in the car – a leg of lamb accidentally left in the boot. Note responsible parents check the tasks they give children and fix the stuff-ups.
This week I have been reading my friend Rachel’s blog The Kids Are All Right. It’s a great resource for parents of teenagers. I weighed in on her post about Facebook with my holier-than-thou “I have their passwords and I do spot checks”. After writing that I realised I couldn’t remember their passwords and it had been ages since I conducted a random check. I asked for passwords and heard “oh I haven’t been on Facebook for months, after you do your check mum can I have the I-pad I might see what’s going on”. Great I’ve reignited an interest that had died. Go me.
The second post of Rachel’s that got me in a panic was a conversation she had with her daughter regarding porn. Apparently our children are exposed to a lot more disturbing images at a younger age than we could ever imagine. Rachel named sites and chat rooms and talked about how teenage boys in particular where obtaining an unrealistic expectation about sex from the porn they were able to easily access on phones and computers (a dirty mag under the bed is long gone).
So in my new, responsible parenting mode, I attempted the conversation. Obviously at the wrong time, wrong place and wrong audience. Have to learn not always best to go with an idea at the moment it pops into my head.
Me: Do boys at your school watch porn?
Miss 15: How the hell would I know?
Me: Do you ever hear them talk about it? Have you ever seen any?
Miss 15: Oh I like a couple of their videos they are funny.
Me: Porn videos?
Miss 15: The bodyboarding videos there’s this guy on this wave going up and down …
Me: There’s a bodyboarding porn video?
Miss 15: What?? No. It’s a film about bodyboarding.
Me: But we are talking about porn.
Miss 15: No mum you are talking about porn, I’ve got no intention of talking about porn.
Me: You have to let me talk to you about this stuff, why do you always refuse to have any discussion about sex? Rachel talked to her daughter about it, look I’ll show you the post.
Miss 15: And if Rachel jumped off a bridge …
Me: Nobody likes a smart alec.
Miss 15: Just sayin …
Me: (Had been battling a migraine all day which of course put another thought in my mind which I just HAD to share) Have I told you the pill is bad for migraines? If you ever decide to take the pill you need to tell the doctor you get migraines, my migraines were much worse when I was on the pill.
Miss 12: (I had forgotten she was in the room) When were you on the pill?
Me: Ummm err, when I didn’t want to have children.
Miss 15: I am not having this discussion.
Me: Seriously, you would have to tell the doctor …
Miss 12: Look mum, she can just get the boy to wear a condom OK.
Right, the ever practical 12-year-old has solved that problem, the eldest has managed to yet again successfully avoid any conversation regarding issues of a sexual nature and we all return to watching X Factor.
Are teenagers different in the country vs those in the city? Are country kids more naive, less exposed to this stuff? Or as a parent have I just got my head-in-the-sand and it’s everywhere, I just haven’t experienced it with my children YET?
There ends my attempt at responsible parenting.