It’s been a rough week. Heck! It’s been a rough couple of years. There have been a lot of changes, a lot of ups and downs. We left Antioch for a new town, and now we’re leaving the new town for a whole new state. Mommy has a new job, and Daddy is under constant stress from his. It’s not always easy being our kids. We have certain expectations. Mostly, that you’ll behave more often than not, and that you will perform certain chores and tasks common for children your age.
That said, we don’t just arbitrarily decide to be “mean” to you guys.
Jackson, when you’ve been told, “Clean your room” everyday for two weeks, and then told, “Clean your room, or we’re going to take your toys away,” we’re not taking your toys because we feel like being mean. We’re taking your toys because you: a) don’t care enough about them to keep them safe (stepping on them isn’t doing them any favors) and b) need to understand that there is an acceptable level of mess, and this isn’t it. Nana used to clean my room all the time when I was a kid. Then, I realized that she wasn’t actually doing me any favors. Eventually, I’d have to learn to clean my room anyway. Plus, when she cleaned, she threw stuff away. We’re not asking for spotless. We’re asking to be able to open the door, walk to the bed, and tuck you in without breaking anything or stepping on the Lego caltrops.
And when you choose not to clean your room, and we take your toys, well, you made a choice. There’s no use getting mad at us, when you knew very clearly what the consequences were.
Cassie, we understand that you want to be 16. But you’re 4. And it is hard being 4. Because you don’t have a whole lot of control over anything. That’s why we try to give you acceptable choices. You can wear pants or baby legs. You can have a smoothie or orange juice. We do this because you’re FOUR – you don’t always have the best judgement. You simply cannot wear a tutu and shorts when it’s 60 degrees outside. Your body cannot function solely on dairy products, crackers, and fruit strips. If you won’t actually eat fruits and vegetables, you have to drink them. Also? Sometimes Mommy is unavailable, and that means you have to go with Daddy. Daddy is not an unreasonable man. You hurt his feelings when you constantly choose Mommy over him, and yell that you hate him. By and large, Daddy has not done anything to merit your scorn.
We don’t enforce bed times to be mean. We do it because you have to wake up for school the next day, and you are bears to live with when you haven’t had a full night’s sleep.
We don’t require you to eat dinner to get dessert to be mean. We do it because your body needs certain nutrients to function, and Hi-Chew and Hershey Kisses are not among them.
We don’t ask you to clean up your stuff to be mean. We do it because we genuinely care that the environment you live in does not resemble a pig sty. Also, so your college roommates will thank us when you are the one kid who does not leave your laundry all over the floor.
We don’t make you wear weather-appropriate clothing to be mean. We do it because we cling to the belief that being too hot or too cold will somehow make you ill. Even if it doesn’t, being too hot or too cold does make you uncomfortable, and when you are uncomfortable, you whine.
We don’t tell you to stop whining to be mean. We do it because it is probably the least appealing noise on the planet. One day, you will have kids, and you will say, “I’m so sorry.” And we will give those kids the Hi-Chew and Hershey Kisses we didn’t let you have, because we’re grandparents, not parents, so we don’t have to be “mean.”
Our goal is to raise you to be functional, healthy, smart, relatively happy adults. That means we need to teach you how to behave and why. It’s not a lot of fun for us, but you’re good kids. We know you’ll get it.
Oh – and no, we are not your friends. We are your parents. There is a difference.
We love you. I remember how our lives were different – emptier – without you in them. I wouldn’t trade you for anything. Even when I’m being mean.