Parenting can be a rough ride. One day the kids are all mushy, kissy-huggy sweetie-pies. And you “make their heart yellow” with love and friendship, and your voice is angel music, and syrup honey sugar sweet love lalalalala. Also, can you buy them a treat?
Then the next day you’re a mean, horrible mommy and possibly a wicked witch too, and O.M.G. today is the WORST day of their ENTIRE LIFE. Because you forgot to ask for mustard on their burger.
Sometimes, I’m not sure which is worse.
As adults, we can’t stand fakeness. We loathe dishonest flattery. Shudder at two-facedness. Yet when our kids offer up the opposite–complete, sometimes brutal, honesty–we’re none too pleased, either.
We’ve all had those facepalm moments in the checkout line or at family gatherings, enduring the glares when our kids point out the size of the overweight woman behind us or insist that the cashier’s a pirate because he sports an eyepatch. But kids wear their hearts on their sleeves, and while there’s no question that Great Aunt Leah’s celebrated macaroni salad tasted like rotten eggs this year, kids lack the social graces and filters to wait until the car ride home to let loose.
This all just means that they won’t talk about you behind your back, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, it also means that they’ll tell you to your face when they have a problem with you, when you’re horrible and mean, and–worst of all–when you’re not their friend anymore EVER AGAIN.
It’s hard enough to accept the criticism with humility . . . let alone with a straight face.
A recent conversation about how amazing I was turned sour quickly when the Maiden realized that all the flattery wasn’t quite honest. After all, I’m not Practically Perfect like Mary Poppins (I need to work on my umbrella flying skills).
“But there are a whole bunch of things I don’t like about you, Mommy,” she said pointedly. After all, she explained, I do mean things like tell her to be quiet or make her clean up her mess or–dear God, no!–turn off Bearville.com after the timer rings. It’s clear to her at least that sometimes I’m not a very good Mommy at all.
Then she felt guilty. After all, I had just bought her a burger, even if it was sadly mustardless. Plus, I was modelling my best devastated look. Seriously, my child thinks I’m a monster because I limit her computer game time? I may never get over this.
“Don’t worry, Mommy,” she said, attempting to bring sunshine back into my life. “You’re very pretty, Mommy, very pretty. When you wear makeup.”
I liked it better when I was a wicked witch.