I currently have at least five packs of gum in my pocketbook – all different brands and flavors.
Why, you may be asking, is this relevant? Because, I shall answer, gum is one of my red flags. It tells me I am letting my guard down a little too much – letting the inmates run the asylum.
What do I mean by this? (And are these rhetorical questions annoying, or what?) I mean that when I find myself digging through a rainbow of gum to find my wallet, I know I’ve said “yes” one too many times at the grocery store check-out.
Now I’m not the most lenient parent I know. I do have rules for my 7- and 4-year-old. But they’re mostly about bodily health and safety, the importance of education, and absolute kindness and respect to animals, humans and the Earth in general.
This means I am definitely not the strictest parent I know.
I know parents who only let their kids eat sweets twice a week. I know parents who insist their children sit at a table when nibbling even the smallest of snacks. I know parents who time TV watching down to the minute. I know parents who give and take away gold stars at the slightest provocation.
I am not those parents.
I think life should be reasonable. I think the relationship between parent and child should be balanced and fair, with a natural give and take that makes sense to all involved – as long as the broad rules of human decency (mentioned above) are upheld. I just feel my children will be better prepared for the gray areas of life with this kind of approach.
However, I must admit my leniency has its pitfalls. I often have a few more battles on my hands, a few extra minutes of parent-child negotiation, because I didn’t rigidly delineate every single rule when my kids were toddlers. But I like to compare myself to a liberal Supreme Court Justice who believes the interpretation of law must change with the times.
So that means that I have to look for signs of imbalance when my parental leniency morphs into laziness. What kind of signs? (There I go again, using that rhetorical device to advance this blog). Signs like the brain-dead stare that comes with too much SpongeBob; the whine of exhaustion that comes with too many late nights; the spontaneous deafness that comes with too much headphone wearing; and the sea of gum that comes with too many supermarket yeses.
And what are the signs telling me? I’ve got a metaphorical whip to crack.