Friday, February 18, 2011

Because You're Mine, I Walk the Line

Old school Johnny Cash. Not bad.

This week, I ran face-first into a parenting wall. You know what I mean, parents. The crossroads of your expectations and others' actions. Ouch.

There are a few things I'm an unabashed hardass parent about. Teaching my kid to say "please", "thank you" and the appropriate "ma'am/sir" is one (sorry, Mayim Bialik. I like ya, but in my world manners matter.). Limits on TV time and corporate consumption for toddlers is another. We are fairly strict in our home about how much time Snoogle gets in front of the box, and what he is allowed to watch when we turn it on. This means there are shows we don't allow him to watch, even though they are designed for children. Perhaps we don't like the way the characters interact with each other, perhaps we don't think they model appropriate behavior, perhaps we just think they're annoying as hell and we don't want to have to put up with them around the clock (you know what I mean by this, too. It's okay to admit it.). I press on with these restrictions, knowing I walk the line between "you're a nutjob, lady" and "may I borrow some of that discipline, please?" most of the time.

I take Little Bit to the gym with me on the days he doesn't go to school. We usually go in the afternoons. I'd noticed the use of the DVD player in the toddler area before, but I also noticed that my son reeeeeeally doesn't like Yo Gabba Gabba and would walk away from it to play with other things. By all means, feel free to envision the look of abject horror on my face when I was told that he was plopped in front of A Show We Do Not Watch and sat there. If you'd like, you can also go right ahead and envision the look of abject horror on the face of the staff when I responded to this news with "UGH. I cannot stand ASWDNW." You'd have though I had simultaneously ripped the head from a kitten and driven over the Bible with my car.

Okay. Maybe my reaction was a little much, but I have a hard time understanding why they need to show videos in the TODDLER area. The school-aged kids' section, fine. They have a WiiFit there, they could show DVDs. But to assume that all parents are okay with their two-year-olds (and younger) watching TV? My assumption is that if I was an unhappy parent, there's at least one more. Thus far, that's been my experience. It's rarely, if ever, just me.

Long story made short, we went back to the gym yesterday afternoon, and the staff made a point of not turning the TV on at all, and telling me about it. I did my best to explain myself without being too defensive or putting them on the defensive. In truth, what it boils down to are these few things:

I have the responsibility of raising my son with the values our family agrees are important.
Not everyone has the same values, or the same way of teaching the same values.
There will be times I will realize no one really gives two good s**ts what values matter to us, because they are acting strictly out of convenience.
I will not like this realization. It will make me angry.
Most important, though....

Because he's mine, I walk the line. I'm willing to be a pariah about some things if it means I get one more shot at protecting my son from influences I don't think are appropriate. My influence will be limited by plenty of other people soon enough. Give me this time with him NOW. Let us teach him what matters to us now, so that he can sort out the rest for himself later.

(and yes, I ran 3 days this week. More running news to come.)

Happy birthday to my wonderful, amazing, funny, best-ever husband and best friend. You're 40 tomorrow...I'll gladly spend the next 40 years with you.

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