Maggie

Sometimes My Kid is an Asshole, and that is OKAY. 

Let me start by saying, I would never ever ever call my child an asshole, so let’s get that straight right now before we even start. My husband and I are really against labeling our children in any way. But, when they act out I surely think it to myself! We parent in a way that we {try} to speak positivity and joy into our kids. We are not in anyway perfect but it is important to us to make sure we are the “calm” to their “wild”. But what happens when all the hard work behind the scenes doesn’t show to someone else?

We live in a crazy world where we post everything on social media. Every day I see numerous posts of amazing dinners and perfect-smiling children sitting with legs and arms crossed, wearing perfectly clean clothes, in a perfectly clean house. But let’s be honest, unless you are my sister, the picture was edited to not show the enormous pile of clean laundry on the floor.  Or in baskets that have not been folded and put away.

I mean let’s be real!

I am lucky I had the time to wash it.  But to actually fold it AND put it away?

FORGET about it.

AHOLE 1
This is my life

What you also didn’t see in that picture is that just 5 seconds before the perfect smiling poses the kids were fighting, or that they were mad because one of the brothers farted. There was me, yelling at them to be nice to each other and to keep their hands to themselves, and it took 15 pictures before I got this one.

Let’s be honest; the little snap we see isn’t what life really is.  Our brains are being conditioned constantly to compare ourselves to these snaps. Mom guilt is heavy in this world. I think people forget it is OK to admit that we don’t always have it together. Just once, wouldn’t you like to see the post from that one person who you think depicts the perfect family saying their kid just got sent home from school for telling his 3rd-grade female classmate to “suck it” while pointing to his crotch?

I’m yelling from the rooftop that was MY KID!

It’s something my son heard on the bus and is against every feminist thought in my brain… MY SON? Really? After getting the call from the school I was soooo embarrassed driving to school to pick him up. I was worried about what “they” were thinking about us as parents, or wondering what type of environment my son lived in that he thought it was appropriate to say that.  Not only to another kid but to a female kid. I was worried about what I would say to my pastor in-laws the next day when they realized he wasn’t in school because of his inappropriate behavior.  What would people who knew me think about my kid? I don’t want them thinking my kid would be a bad influence on their kid. Or think I was a horrible parent, obviously exposing him to things he was far too young and immature to understand.  I had visions going through my head as to the direction his life was heading; that he was going to be the jock in the locker room degrading some girl, or breaking a girl’s heart for not putting out. I started thinking about him being labeled as a danger for daughters to be around.  Really, you said the words “suck it” and pointed to your crotch! Why is it that this bothers me so much? To be honest, it’s hilarious. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it to people I know on several occasions. I did it and I thought I was hilarious for doing so. Then why is it so upsetting that my son was sent home from school for doing the same thing?  I don’t know, but maybe it’s because I’m trying to raise boys who empower women, not degrade them and to not be that typical, chauvinistic male our society seems to desire. And then like being hit with a bolt of lightening I was empowered from within! It was like F@:k that! Life is not perfect and it IS okay for my son to make a mistake! I felt empowered to use this as a VERY powerful learning opportunity, teaching him that it is NOT okay to speak that way and by doing so, he put that little girl in a position to feel exposed and violated.  I had to explain to him what that expression meant (at a 3rd-grade appropriate level) and that is was used to belittle and make others feel victimized.  By the end of the conversation, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked if he could write an apology to the little girl and to his teacher for speaking that way.  He obviously had no idea the meaning of what he said. He only heard some older kid on his bus say it. And we all know anything that has to do with his penis is hilarious and of course, he decided to repeat it.

After the conversation with my son, I began thinking about the many years I have spent parenting out of fear of what others might think instead of realizing that kids are humans too. Just like us they have bad days. And they say and think stuff that isn’t a reflection of who they really are as a person.  I think a lot of times we punish our kids for being humans, for being kids… and the toughest realization of all is that we punish them for doing the same things we do!   Last night I was out to dinner with two of my most powerful, feminist friends and we started having the discussion about how swearing in front of your kids was not really a bad thing. One of them is a mother of two and the other has no kids and was discussing it from the perspective of her child psychology degree as well as her many years of nanny experiences.  My husband and are very mindful of what our children are exposed to. He comes from a very conservative Baptist family. His dad is a pastor. As a pastor’s kid, he was brought up in a very strict way and avoided all appearances of evil so that he would not provide a stumbling block to those around you.  He was raised without television, as well as no exposure to music other than the hymns he heard in his father’s church. We are both Christians. However, I say that very cautiously. I have evolved enough to say that I’m not a “Christian” but I believe in God and in Jesus as my savior. I also believe that we are called so that people around us would know we are God’s by our love, not our judgment. There are less “no’s” and more freedom given to us by God. We are called to love the broken and the sinners. We are called to live our life knowing we have to claim our decisions on judgment day. However, my husband was raised in such a way that we are very over protective of our children and what we teach them. But if you swear, does that mean you are not a “Christian” or that you are not a good parent for exposing your child’s innocent mind to less than “Christian values”? The discussion that evening was, wouldn’t you rather your child hear swear words being used “intelligently” from someone they trust than from some hoodlum on the bus? Don’t forget MY kid was the hoodlum the next day saying it to a poor, innocent 3rd-grade girl. My friend told a story about her friend and her daughter, explaining how the daughter was allowed to have conversations with her mom asking ANY questions she had. This mom explained stuff in an intelligent, none-emotional way, believing when you approach topics as “off limits” it then becomes a novelty, something kids want to explore to find out what the big deal really is. Does it encourage rebellion and the desire to rebel?  The next thing my friend said was what really got me thinking… she said, “you know what the most amazing part is? This little girl’s questions are evolving.  They are becoming more intelligent and layered because she is allowed to let her mind expand with knowledge. She is being taught things from the perspective of her mother who loves her and has years of experience.” And then my other friend said, “You know what I mean. I am a genius of sarcasm and perfectly placed “f” words.”  All of a sudden it occurred to me she was right!  Maybe I was approaching this parenting thing wrong from the very beginning. I not only want to raise intellectual, kind and all around good people, but I want to raise kids with witty sarcasm, human beings who some day I will enjoy sitting together around the fire.  I want to be able to have conversations that stimulate and debates that can get heated but end with saying  “I respect your opinion even if I totally disagree with you.” My kids have both sides of the fence to learn from. If taught and exposed to appropriate learning experiences they will choose what they believe by what they feel in their hearts and what is their truth. What an incredible, empowering moment to finally realize the mommy shaming and perfection trap was no longer going to control me as a parent.  I need to do “me” and I must give myself the freedom and grace to shout inappropriate words if the situation calls for it. That what family, friends or people of social media think of me shouldn’t matter at all! The realization that yes, sometimes my kid is an asshole, is more than okay!

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