For Parents Who Embrace an Offbeat Style
No one in my life who truly knows me would ever accuse me of being normal.
These choice of words are completely intentional. Normalcy to me would be a curse, a life of certain boredom. When my existence starts going down a normal path, subconsciously I feel the need to shake things up. As a younger woman, I always hoped that marriage and motherhood would not level me out too much.
I have not been disappointed.
Un-Normal Parenting – Exhibit A
(Photographic evidence withheld to protect the innocent.) 😉
Is it normal while on a mountain trip to ask your teenaged stepson (in between snort laughs) to position himself on a giant rock beside a man who inadvertently had his fanny hanging out of his pants so as to capture a photo of OUR scenery?
I didn’t think so.
How about this situation?
Un-Normal Parenting – Exhibit B
My then-3-year-old son, who was irritated at me for some relatively insignificant reason, swatted at me in anger while I was loading him into our van.
Me (earnestly): Will, little boys who hit their mamas can go to jail.
Will (defiantly trying to swat again): Mommy, you’re MEANS.
Me (forlornly): Uh oh. You just called me a name. It’s not lookin’ really good for you, Little Man. (Then holding phone up to face, pretending there’s someone on the other end) Hello? Is this Mr. Policeman? Yes, this is Mary Peterson. My son Will just hit me and he called me a name.
Will (frantically): I didn’t! I called you “means.” That doesn’t count!
Me (pausing to listen to fake policeman): Yes sir, I also believe that “means” counts as a bad name. He is 3 years old. (pause) A Spider Man shirt. And your name again, sir? OK. We are headed home right now. (pause) Our address is…..
Needless to say, this phony dialogue between me and the imaginary police officer resulted in the end of Will’s slugfest.
Calling fake cops on your child? Is that normal?
Or this one….
Un-Normal Parenting – Exhibit C
Some of you may remember my writing about the drama our family has endured around my daughter’s reluctancy to take swim lessons. Just to reiterate, lest my readers think that I am a demonic mom with no empathy, Caroline is NOT afraid of the water.
One day, after proudly having completed 3 or 4 lessons, Caroline declared in no uncertain terms that there was no way in God’s green earth she was going into that water.
Given that her dad and I had placed major importance on learning to swim, we pulled out the Big Guns. We told her that she would not be able to go on the boat or to the pool until she started up her lessons again. She cocked her cute little curly head to the side pensively and once again gave forth a resounding no.
And so began our power-driven tug-of-war. The 3-year-old was kicking our tails.
Finally, I communicated to Caroline that I shouldn’t have to be punished for her imprudent choice. I took my swimming lessons, doggone it! (Over 35 years ago, but who’s counting?)
So Jed concocted a story in which Caroline would have a new babysitter with the moniker “Mean Lady.” This fictional woman’s legacy was one of making little kids go to bed early and coercing them to eat cauliflower and other nastiness. Meanwhile, Caroline’s twin brother, dad and I would frolic in the water, having lots of fun not drowning.
One Saturday shortly thereafter, the family (sans Caroline) donned our swimsuits, informing Caroline that Mean Lady was on call, ready to come and spread her special brand of misery. To avoid the torment of being under Mean Lady’s mind control, all that Caroline had to do would be to simply agree to resume her swim lessons. But our stubborn daughter called our bluff.
Caroline stoically replied, “Nah, I’m good.”
Like my little ones, I am quite stubborn myself. There was no WAY that I was going to cave.
So, after a kiss and the assurance of bogus Mean Lady’s imminent arrival, we walked out the door. While the boys kept walking with the intention of actually going out on our boat, I tiptoed around the house. In front of God and all of our neighbors, I proceeded to creepily peer in a window, watching my 3-year-old daughter from the front of the house, presumptively home alone.
Is it normal to spend a Saturday afternoon in 95 degree temperatures hiding in a bush in front of one’s own home, watching your child through a window for upwards of half an hour? Likely not.
(By the way, I would have been out there for longer had she not finally moved position, suddenly out of my view. Note to readers: Never fake-leave your child home alone with Daniel Tiger on TV.)
What Did I Learn?
First of all, I’m not the only slightly wacky mama out there. The internet is loaded with “true Hollywood stories” of celeb moms and their extremely “un-normal” beliefs and tendencies.
In the article “10 Most Controversial Celebrity Parenting Methods,” writer Emily Kendy shares stories from the twisted: pre-mastication (or chewing up and spitting out food FOR your kid – like a bird) to the appalling: “hot-saucing” (as it sounds – hot sauce in the child’s mouth, replacing the old school bar of soap). http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-controversial-celebrity-parenting-methods/
As outlandish as some may find my parenting, these celebs make me seem like June Cleaver.
What was the outcome of these un-normal parenting adventures? A. Memories I can still snort-laugh reliving with my stepson; B. A son that by all accounts has a healthy respect for authority and C. A still stubborn-as-hell daughter who debatably will eventually complete those confounded swim lessons.
In the words of the distinguished singer Meatloaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
Is anyone else out there in the “un-normal” parenting camp? What bizarre adventures have you experienced along the way?