I’ve thought a lot lately, for various reasons, about what I really want to teach my kids. I don’t want to control every little thing they do. First, that’s exhausting. Second, more importantly, it’s just not effective. My kids have to fail and struggle and piss me off to learn. As a good friend reminded me, I’m not raising “good kids” but “good adults”. I really want my kids to be productive members of society. They have to feed the dogs and drop food everywhere. I have to extend my trust a little more than I want to when they ask to make slime on their own. I want them to become responsible, independent, hardworking, kind humans. To become those kinds of humans, I have to let them be a bit. From activity choice to food to choice to self-care. I have to let them be.
All the Open Things!
Right, so that’s all well and good; raising responsible, independent, hardworking, kind humans. Great. But why in God’s name can’t my kids close anything?! Cereal boxes, chip bags, cupboard doors, drawers, the front door. Good luck. How is that they could pretty much code their own website, but they can’t close a god damned thing?! Seriously, does someone have a scientific answer for this? I know the impulse part of our brain isn’t fully developed until we’re about 21 years old. Is there also a part of our brain that’s incapable of closing things until a certain age too? Hopefully age 11? We’re at 1.5, 7, and 10. Throw me a bone.
Wet Towels and Dirty Socks and Underwear
And while we’re at it, could we for a minute discuss picking things up. Really, though. “Take a shower, wash all the parts with soap and PLEASE hang up your towel after.” They yell back all sorts of assurances. But sure enough, I find three fucking wet towels on the ground every shower night. I mean the towels can only fall off the rack so much.
Or dirty underwear and socks. It’s amazing really. How is it that only these items get left in the bathroom? Apparently, we want to display our poop stains for the good of the family? And even though they manage to get the rest of their clothes out of the bathroom, how is it so impossible to get them in the damn hamper? Each kid has their own hamper, directly next to their bureau. They have to fucking try to NOT put their dirty clothes in them.
Is this the price I have to pay for attempting to raise functioning members of society? At this point the number of times I say to myself loudly walking through the house hoping its an appropriate hour for a beer, “why is this door open?” is astounding. I get that one day [when they’re 11] that part of their brains will settle in. And someday my house will feel empty without all the open things and wet towels and dirty underwear. And when I’m reveling in the fact that I raised a teacher, a lawyer, a veterinarian and a president all those open, dirty, wet things will be forgotten.
But the question is still not answered. And the now is still very much my reality. How the fuck hard is it to close the cereal box? How hard? Do my kids actually just throw their dirty clothes everywhere because they enjoy watching my soul shrivel? Is it all a conspiracy? Do they laugh about it and high five behind closed doors? “Did you see mom crying and talking to herself over her beer in the corner?! That’s because I walked through the kitchen and opened everything! 10pts!” Maniacal laughter
I mean fuck. I think at this point the only solution to my problem is to start fucking with them. Maybe when they’re at school, I’ll rearrange all the shit in their room, and pretend a ghost did it. Or start hiding their dirty clothes. I don’t know. As a mom, I’m powerless more than I want to admit. Maybe that’s a good thing.
The Price We Pay
But, as much as I do really cry over my beer in a corner often, I sort of love it all. I think it means my kids are happy. I am not saying I let my kids be dicks at my expense so they’re happy. Fuck that. Don’t do that. I’m not saying my kids are disrespectful jerks who can’t take responsibility for themselves. They can and they do. At school. On the sports field. With friends and the general public. They truly are the sheepdogs of society and I’m immensely proud. But, at home, they shed some of that skin, and they let it all go and leave all the things open and all the wet dirty things lying around. And that my friends, is the price we pay for raising happy, good humans.