La La How The Life Goes On

I Know You Are But What Am I?

Posted on: June 14, 2011

Well, how do you like that? Yow know I love to finger-wag at all the mom behavior of which I disapprove. You’ve read me take all kinds of moms to task for all kinds of behavior that I, in my Andy Rooney ivory tower grumpy old man entitled way, find not to my liking. So how did it feel to be the mom being judged this week? Kind of weird, kind of bad, and kind of liberating.

The week began with an email from the mom of a boy in Bambina’s class, inviting her for a playdate. Fair enough. But wait for it: the playdate was to involve Bambina “hanging out in the hot tub” with this kid and his parents. You’ll recall Bambina is seven. I’m still trying to figure out if this is universally weird, or whether I am just such a child of the 80’s that I cannot separate hot tubs in a suburban back yard in 2011 with jacuzzis in T&A movies featuring geeks and jocks. Or Rodney Dangerfield. My primary thought–to this day–when I hear about “hanging out in a hot tub” is “ohmigod! I totally heard you can get pregnant that way!!” And, since 2007’s transplant, “Jesus Christ, I KNOW you can get 55 fungal diseases that way.” So the invite for my first grader to hang out in the hot tub with a boy and his parents just completely weirded me out, and had me in high dudgeon about what a great parent I was since I neither own a hot tub, nor would I invite a minor into same were I to have one. Oh, yes, I am so much better than THAT mom. Pull a muscle patting myself on the back…

Then Bambina has a playdate at our house with one of her friends. The plan was for them to walk to our house after school since we live less than a 1/4 mile away with no streets to cross, and Bambina does it twice a week. I am always home, and I always have the front door open for her, and I am really rather pretty certain that she’s going to make it home just fine 100% of the time. Except: it’s so no big deal for Bambina to walk home that it never occurred to me to mention it to her friend’s mom. UNTIL: I hear Bambina’s voice in the yard so I go out to welcome them both home and there is the friend’s mom looking at me like, ‘What the FUCK, bitch?!” I was still not sure what was going on, so I said, “Oh, you walked them all they way here from the school?” (She was there to pick up her elder daughter and they live in the opposite direction). She said, very stonily, “I’m not there yet on the walking home alone thing.” I stopped myself from saying, “but they weren’t alone; they were together” because I could tell she was not really interested in chatting with me at that moment.

So the playdate lasted 2 1/2 hours, the entire duration of which I felt really terrible, like, oh man, she hates me now. And, should Bambina not be walking home from school? Am I a crazy reckless mother? Should I be picking her up and driving/walking her a 1/4 mile even though she crosses no streets, is surrounded by other kids walking home and would be so pissed if I told her she couldn’t? Am I the pedestrian-kid version of the hot-tub mother? Are people posting Facebook status updates about the insane mother who lets her kid walk home twice a week? Will I be blacklisted for home playdates? It was agony. As well as genuine guilt, because the truth is I really should have cleared the method of transport with the mother. 100% my fault and I own it. So it was bad.

But it got worse. Oh yes! It got worse! When she came to pick up her daughter I apologized profusely and declared that OF COURSE any time her daughter came over I would absolutely go and pick them up at the school and walk them home, and I was so tremendously sorry that I had not thought to mention it to her prior to the playdate. She was visibly calmer by then, so I was starting to relax. When my two girls decide this is the moment to climb the outer edge of the banister–up to the 5th step–and start singing, “Jingle Bells Your Bum Smells.” The mom says straight up, completely bypassing the potty talk, “I can’t even look at them; this is an injury waiting to happen” and shuffles her kid out the door.

So, my guess is that Bambina will be required to go to their house after this if she’d like to ever see her friend again. But not to worry; I have a plan to turn this thing around.

I’m going to install a hot tub.

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2 Responses to "I Know You Are But What Am I?"

Awesome. Reminds me of a story my sister in law Suzy told me – her son (then maybe 12?) had a friend over, and they were looking something up on the computer. Whatever they were doing led (completely accidentally) to a site not appropriate for 12yo boys. Suzy quickly closed the window and moved them to another activity. The next day, she was talking to a friend, who said, in a horrified voice, “I heard the craziest story this morning. So-and-so’s kid was over at someone else’s house and THEY DIDN’T HAVE PARENTAL CONTROLS ON THE COMPUTER.” Suzy said she was mortified but just looked straight at the other mom and said “oh yeah, that was me.”

That’s a good story, and I can very much understand where you’re coming from as well as the ‘other mother’. I try very hard to stick to the idea of Calm and Communicate when dealing with children, parents, and others who take their turn looking after my child. It’s tough, and there are times I feel like I’ve got a few feathers in my mouth from the crow I ate, but after the misfortune of having a few big injuries to my daughter I try very, very hard.

So far my daughter has been through 2 broken legs (same leg, 2 times) and broken teeth (from a fall and biting a concrete step) by the age of 2 and only one of those injuries I have been present for (and was a direct result of my inattention). The others occurred under the supervision of a non family member (same person was there for 1 broken leg and the broken teeth). Aside from the fright, and other emotions at the time, and the horror of said non family member, the hardest thing I found dealing with was my wife’s grief over the loss of “my beautiful baby’s smile”. I found myself trying to tread the line of comforting my wife, but also reminding her that the kiddo hasn’t changed and that we can’t treat her or interact with her any differently because she just broke a couple of teeth. They’ll grow back eventually…

Kiddo herself was fine throughout each of the ordeals. A couple minutes of crying, and then weeks of happily smiling and explaining to us about her “Owie”, and “Uh oh! No tooth!”.

Anyway, if I can shed some light on the hot-tub situation. My aunt and uncle have an outdoor hot-tub and held a weekly “family meeting” to discuss family topics in the hot-tub, rain or shine, -40C and snow, or +20C and sunny. To them it is treated essentially as a pool, a very small and warm bubbly pool, but a pool none the less. So for them to have one of their kids friends over and sit in the hot-tub is a non-issue, it’s just an invitation to come play in their “mini-pool”. Basically an inivitation to come swimming.

Personally I don’t subscribe to the appeal of sitting in a hot-tub, and I know what you mean about the possibility for disease and I don’t even have any problems with my immune system! I don’t have any suggestions on how to handle the situation, but if you are uncomfortable with it at least be appreciative that they asked first!

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