The 8 Ways I’m Ruining My Kids

How I'm ruining my kidsMy number-one goal as a parent is to raise successful, independent adults (see When Doing Your Job Breaks Your Heart). The world and Internet are full of advice on how to do this. If you spent enough time reading and thinking about all the messages you receive as a mom about how to do it right, you’d be able to create a step-by-step guide about the proper way to raise them — as told by society. In fact, I bet that list is probably a Google search away. It’s a search I dare not do. According to it, I’ve been ruining my kids for four years now. These are just the top eight that I can think of.

They sleep with me.That’s right. We have a “family bed.” At least for now. I’m not a hippie. It’s not to strengthen any sort of family bond. I’m not lonely. The thought of having a giant bed all to myself is appealing, but it’s not a pressing need. I’ve done all the mom-guilt Google searches looking for permission and peace of mind around this subject and have read all of the advice out there that says you shouldn’t. I must say that when I read that it will ruin their independence, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. There isn’t anything that’s going to ruin those girls’ sense of independence. After all the guilt and societal pressure I land on, it works for us. Right now. It doesn’t bother me, and they like it. They will transition to their own bed. When it’s right for us.

They know what Morning Chocolate is.My family has suffered from a severe addiction for generations. Afflicted myself, it was up to me to break the cycle with the new generation. I failed. We love our chocolate, and we love it early and often. I want to say that I monitor the amount that they have, and I do, but as I say this, I know it will carry no weight when you read the rest. As much as my girls are night owls, they are also early birds. This makes getting my Morning Chocolate in very difficult. They have an uncanny ability to sense when I am eating it. I plan a distraction, unwrap it the night before so it doesn’t make any noise, and think I’m getting away with it. Then, out of nowhere, “Mom, what are you eating?” Alas, I am not good at lying. “Morning Chocolate.” Sigh. Luckily we are heading into the season where Morning Chocolate is accepted by society. Christmastime and Advent calendars. Yes, next month, my guilt can rest. It’s not an addiction; it’s celebrating the season.

They photograph their food.We are a couple of months shy of blogging for almost a year. We thought carefully about the impact on the girls before starting it and felt comfortable that it wouldn’t scar them. I felt good with that decision until Riley asked me for the phone before she ate her dinner one night. She needed to photograph her food. Oh boy. Would she be going off to school and Instagraming the daily menu? Will her future dates go awry when she insists on detailed pictures of the meal? Hopefully it will just come across as quirky.

Cider Float Photography

Riley’s apple cider float photography

They suffer.I don’t like to give my kids medicine. This in part comes from my own uneasiness of filling their bodies with something that is manipulating it and in part from my pediatrician aunt. It has been awesome having a pediatrician on speed dial. I don’t think she would agree with that statement as she has often been woken out of bed, although I do think she gets some pleasure out of scientifically poo-pooing my mom silliness. Normally the response is, “She’s fine. Stop taking her temperature and let the fever run its course.” I don’t much use a thermometer anymore and hardly any medicine. They suffer through the illness. It builds character. They do get M&M medicine. Don’t ask. See #2.

They are doomed to listen to financial babble. They might not be wondering how much each pea they are eating costs, but they will know. We aren’t hurting for money. There is no inflection in my voice saying that they are draining the bank. It comes from an overwhelming compulsion of mine to amortize everything. Thanks to my dad. If they don’t eat all of their peas, the cost of that package just went up. They are also fully aware of the 8th wonder of the world: compound interest. I don’t think they know the other 7, but the seeds of the concept of how money can grow have been planted. Invest early and invest often. I like to think they will have a diversified portfolio by fifteen. I just hope they don’t tell the lunch lady exactly how much that PB&J is costing her.

They dance like white girls. We love music. We sing in the morning. We sing in the car. We have dance parties in the kitchen almost every Saturday. We also have no tune and absolutely no rhythm. I shouldn’t say that they don’t. They have many years to develop this talent. Sadly, in the short span of their lives, they have only had one true role model for this and they have learned all my awkward dance moves. A dance that involves a variation of the twist, boot stomping, clapping, and wild hand motions. Together we are a sight to be seen. Luckily, I’m too old to care what I look like and they are too young. Middle school dances might be rough.

girl with gameboyThey only have one iPad.Growing up, my sister and I were given a Game Boy for Christmas. The coolest thing to hit the market and we got a Game Boy. To share. One small little handheld device to be divided between two headstrong girls. It wasn’t pretty, and I swore I would never do such a silly thing to my girls. Funny how things change. We have one iPad. One small little handheld device to be divided between two headstrong girls. When attention is drawn to this item by either party, the other comes squealing over, laying claim and announcing the injustice of the other playing with it. I should get another but they are so dang expensive! Okay, I get it, Mom and Dad.

They are naked. Propriety has been left behind at our house. While I am usually able to get them out of the door and off to daycare in some sort of reasonable clothing (if a Christmas dress, shorts, unmatched socks, and snow boots are reasonable), I am not able to keep them in clothing in the house. As soon as we walk through the door, Riley sheds one shoe and usually one sock. Within 20 minutes they are both missing pants and somehow always manage to look like they’ve rolled in a giant pile of stickiness. Weekends just don’t include clothes at all. I should be more insistent, but in the land of never-ending battles I put the white flag up on this one. Nudists aren’t causing any harm, right?

I should feel guilt. Goodness knows the quirks that they will develop for all of this. A parent’s role is to raise strong, independent adults. What we left out is that even strong, independent adults carry “scars” from their parents. Well-rounded includes chips and dents. You can’t be independent without being an individual. So, I will continue to do my best, and we’ll just have to wait and see how these “dents” turn out.