As parents we have numerous opportunities every day to shape the lives of our children and the people we would like for them to become. That’s what it’s all about, anyway, right? Growing your children into responsible adults who are able to contribute in a positive way to our society?
My husband always says, “We are not making friends here,” when referring to getting our kids to tow the line. But while raising kids is hard, it can be even more challenging when your parenting style and that of your spouse are completely different.
You see, while my husband is kind of like Captain Von Trappe (please do not give this man a whistle), I am much more like Frauline Maria. (Bored? Let’s cut up old clothing from the pile of stuff you outgrew and make crop tops and Michael Jackson gloves!)
There are times when we have to dig deep to get on the same parenting page, but there are a few items that we wholeheartedly (and oddly) agree on. Here is our list of the top three parenting battles where we have waved the proverbial white flag – at least for now.
1. What They Wear (Don’t Care): Let me first say this this one applies to kids age 12 and under. After that, I hear ya on putting the smack down. Our daughters are nine and six, and their closets might look like a Lilly Pulitzer and Crewcuts outlet mashup, but you would Not Know It it because of what they choose to put on in the mornings (see above photo). You can be pretty certain the ensemble will include a free t-shirt from a charity walk that has remnant stain of Smoothie King Carribean Way slashed across the front and a pair of fraying running shorts from Target.
And the hair. In my opinion, it always looks way overdue for a trim and may not be as freshly combed as I’d prefer, and as much as I want to chase them around with a Wet Brush, I have found that it is just too exhausting for all parties most of the time. Additionally, in a moment of weakness many years ago I somehow purchased a giant poofy pink flower headband from Gymboree, which was intended to be worn with a coordinated dress with matching rosettes. Somehow this headband manages to appear at such inopportune times like Easter, the annual Christmas Card photo and any event that has to do with seeing either my or my husband’s boss. And you know what? We let it ride. At least that hair is Out of Her Eyes today! 😱
One day we will look back and laugh about the fact that one daughter wore leopard print for five consecutive school picture days or was the rumpliest child bounding gleefully down the isle for Children’s Church with a giant flower headband, leopard print dress, tangly ends, and an armload of tacticle bracelets.
2. Winner Winner Chicken (Finger) Dinner: Our kids eat lots of chicken fingers when we go out- which is a good bit these busy days. Our kids also rate chicken fingers. They rate the breading, they rate the serving temperature and the viscosity of the honey mustard. They rate the thickness and juiciness of the meat inside the golden delicious coating. They are true chicken finger connoisseurs and their tastes are discerning in this particular area. I am quite certain that if it were not for chicken fingers (and strawberries) our youngest child would blow away. They order them at drive-throughs, white-tablecloth restaurants, and sports bars (“You have a baby…in a bar…”). But you know what? It’s protein. There will be a time and place for branching out and developing a sophisticated palate. This is just not our year – or our decade.
3. Summer Bedtime (Wait, what? They have that?) We are pretty good about getting the kids to bed at a reasonable (and consistent) hour during the school year. And after all, bedtime during the school year benefits everyone – including the parents. But in the summer, it’s pretty much impossible to keep this schedule. Selfishly, it is kind of nice that they are getting to the age that they will sleep in after a bit of a later night, and sometimes we are just having too much fun to worry about going to bed on time. Whether it’s grabbing a 9pm dinner (yes, chicken fingers) after a Junior Golf match or letting them indulge in a little too much American Ninja Warrior while we sip wine on the porch, we have somehow managed to escape any semblance of a nightly routine this summer. That said, there have been a few nights when bedtime was ordered in broad daylight due to the nails-on-a-chalkboard agonizing sound of escalated sisterly squabbles and the draining effect of too much sun, too many sports and frankly, too much togetherness.
So while we do have our non-negotiables, such as trying our best to make it to church (bonus points for on time) when we are in town and making sure our kids are generally not mean people, even The Captain has given up on some things that are energy sucking and exhausting. I am certain we will look back and wish we had done more of this or less of that, but right now letting a few things fall by the wayside (and not beating ourselves up about it) feels pretty good.
If you happen to witness or hear of aforementioned meanness coming from Kelly Barbrey and The Captain’s children, they would like to know about it, as all above bets will be Off. It may result in the disappearance of a certain flower headband and permanent 6pm bedtime for the duration of the summer.