The truth according to my children: I am in a never-ending, frenzied search for new ways to ruin their lives forever. Feel free to call Family and Children’s Services whenever you are sufficiently sickened by this list of abuses my sweet cherubs are forced to endure.
- The beverages available in this house include water, milk, and juice. I try to point out that I know a lot of moms who don’t allow any juice at all and their milk is of the soy, rice, or almond variety. I feel like I’m being very generous in allowing one cup of juice or milk at a meal (water after that if they’re still thirsty), but sometimes the lack of Sunny D, Kool Aid Jammers and pop induces such complaining that you’d think I was forcing them to drink congealed blood.
- I use child slave labour for the making of school lunches. AND I supervise. How mean is that? I make them do all the work, but then I also make them take fruit and vegetables. And if they don’t meet my quota of healthy foods of their own volition, then they lose the option of taking a cookie or pudding or some such sweet treat. I can’t believe I’m admitting such a heinous crime on the internet. Moms who really love their kids buy Lunchables and Pop Tarts.
- Screen time is limited. My children are not robots and they do not need to be electronically connected and cyber-linked every moment of their lives. They are allowed half an hour on the computer on school days – the computer is in the dining room, we have parental controls on the internet, and they are only allowed on pre-approved sites. They are not allowed to go on youtube or google without prior permission. TV and movies are not an everyday thing. Sometimes we’ll watch something together as a family after dinner. Or sometimes after school the kids are allowed to watch a movie from our collection if my day is crazy-busy – which means, yes, I am willing to occasionally employ an electronic babysitter, but at least I know it’s something safe and they won’t be bombarded with commercials. And are you sitting down for this one? My kids don’t have cell phones! They all desperately want cell phones, but I am mean, mean, mean. And cheap, cheap, cheap. Perhaps we’d consider conceding this point if we could sign up for a plan that didn’t allow any internet access or sending/receiving photos, and if the phone would be completely deactivated for the rest of the month as soon as they reach their allotment of texts and minutes.
- My kids do chores 6 days a week. It took a full year of my constant reminders and discipline for them to finally get in the habit of doing their chores, but it was worth it. They are moderately capable of using a broom, a vacuum cleaner, a dish cloth and a toilet brush. At the very least, they are somewhat employable. And at best, their future spouses will appreciate their hard work. (Or they’ll find their half-hearted efforts cute long enough to get married and then it’s not my problem anymore.)
- Bed-time. Some of you may have been nodding in agreement so far, but this is the point where many of our peers stare at me slack-jawed. Our kids – all four of them – yes, even the 13-year-old – are often in bed by 8 o’clock. Not every single night; we are not going to scoot them out of youth group so we can rush them home for nighty-night. And we’re more flexible on weekends. But they have proven beyond all doubt that it is healthier for all of us if they can get a good night’s sleep as often as possible. And it is in their best interest to let their mom and dad have a couple non-parenting hours in the evenings. If we have to maintain this schedule right up until college, it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.
Lest you think I’m the most militant mom ever (regardless of whether you think that’s a positive thing or a negative thing), there are certainly areas in our children’s lives that could use a little more attention on my part (for example, my kids don’t make their beds every morning. Now some of you really are ready to dial F&CS, aren’t you?) And as the kids are getting older, I’m trying to offer flexibility and compromise on some things that I’ve always been hyper-strict about. However, by and large, my children are convinced that no one on earth has it as hard as they do. Your kids probably feel the same way, so you are welcome to tell them how mean Mrs. Neuman is. Or better yet, leave a comment with your own parental atrocities!