A few months ago I let Quinlan buy a Monster High doll with her own money. I wasn't being weak, really, just lazy, allowing my kid to bring home a doll dressed in a monokini and stiletto heels. You know, just another day at high school.
It wasn't until I posted it on Facebook that I realized that I had royally fucked up.
Thanks for the intervention, SubMommy.
After I refused to let her play the online game, she knew something was up, and so we got into a really meaningful conversation about why I just didn't think they were cool toys.
"They have no clothes on, Quinlan!"
"But, it's a beach day at school, Mom!"
"I didn't think vampires could go to the beach, honey. They'd fry themselves."
See, all that Eric ogling during True Blood paid off!
I didn't have to fight her much, because like almost every toy we have in this house, she was done with it in about a week and went back to eying up the newest American Girl doll.
But we did have a conversation about why I wouldn't permit her to play the online game anymore. Or spend her money on more whores. Er, dolls.
Whether she gets it or not now, the seed has been planted. And lessons are learned from parenting mistakes made, thankfully small ones that are easily reconciled.
May I always be so lucky.
I haven't quite figured out my actual parenting manifesto, what I'll allow in my house and what I won't.
Aside from that which is illegal, I suppose I can't really say with certainty until it happens.
I have no hard and fast rules, only that if something comes into our house that shouldn't be there, be it toys, attitudes, and words, we talk about it, and call it out for what it is.
Whether it's because I don't like how they are dressed, or I don't like the way I'm being spoken to, or I think that word isn't something they should be using.
And then I tell them why.
It's uncomfortable. Difficult. And a bit unsettling.
It makes you long for the days when the biggest challenge was getting a diaper on them. When your toughest dilemma was when to introduce solid foods.
We read books, magazines, and blogs. We posted threads on message boards.
Should 4 month old start baby food? Help!
It's tougher now to find the answers. Google is good with scaring the shit out of you with random illness symptoms but not so much when it comes to the small nuances of parenting kids and soon to be tweens.
And it's not the "don't talk backs" or "watch that fresh mouth" that are challenging. Or even the somewhat accidental "fucks" that fly out of their mouths, often in perfect context.
It's explaining why I don't like the word "fat" or why we don't say we "hate" something. It's addressing stereotypes about races and cultures.
It's discussing differences and why they're so wonderful, even though so many people don't feel the same way.
It also makes you very aware of all the things you do, the words you say, the attitudes you have deemed acceptable that really aren't.
Yes, the barbies have taken over, with their ridiculously disproportionate bodies and interchangeable heads. There are guns and swords poking out of our toy bin.
And the words fly out of their mouths. Because they are kids and that's just what happens.
But not to my blind eye. My deaf ear. Or unspoken response.
Because it is there that we earn the title of parent. When we don't just nod something away, shake it off, or ignore it.
It's taking those moments that you could just let float by, unnoticed, and turning them into opportunties for learning, growth, and change (in you and your kids) that are the difference.
That right there is the real work.
Do it well.