"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Parenting Litmus Test

Once upon a time I was a college student studying human development. One of my classes required observing a kindergarten room. I sat and took notes as I watched a buzzing room of short people participate in "centers." Two children were assigned the "house area," which consisted of a pretty cool playhouse and some play food. I watched, fascinated, as a small girl informed a small boy that he was the dad, and directed him to lay on the sofa. Then she left the playhouse, and re-entered blazing with the fury of 10,000 fiery horses screaming, "ALL YOU EVER DO IS LAY ON THE SOFA!!! WHY DON'T YOU GET UP FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE AND GET!!! A!!! JOB!!!!!!"

As a direct result of this experience, I get a knot in my stomach whenever my crew prepare to play house, or "play Sweetie," as it's called here. I figure their "Sweetie" play is probably a good indicator of the quality of my parenting interactions, so my ears perk up, but I'm usually still left mystified in the end. Earlier on, when I was completely overwhelmed, it was a little more clear. I'd hear things like, "I TOLD you to pick that up. WHY didn't you pick it up? Pick it up NOW!" and I cringe and try to pay more attention to my voice. But things have calmed down, so it's harder to know. For instance, the game's name: Sweetie. "Sweetie" is kind of my generic name for whomever I'm talking to, especially when it's a mild correction, ("Sweetie, Lincoln Logs are not for your belly button," for instance). So, when they walk around with their dolls calling each other Sweetie, should that be telling me that maybe they think I don't know their names? I can't make up my mind. And most of the play involves getting ready to go somewhere. Which really is mostly what we do. Is that a problem I should address?

But I guess in the end I'm comforted. It's kind of a check-in with myself. They debate about who gets to be "Kerrie" (as opposed to who has to be "Kerrie"), and they generally use polite voices with each other. So I think we're ok.


  1. Okay, I swear I am not stalking your pretty new blog, but this one is hilarious. I too fear the day my girls argue over who has to play me. Then screams at the other "quit screwing around and wipe your butt it's not going to wipe itself and you stink".
    Ahem, because they would have heard that on tv.

  2. I, too, as a college student, visited a kindergarten class. This particular class was in what is usually referred to as an "urban" area. During Morning Circle Time, when the little ones were supposed to talk about what had transpired in their lives since they left school the day before, one lad said that his daddy was away but Uncle Sean had slept in Mommy's bed to keep her company. Another child volunteered that HIS daddy was away, too, in jail. A sweet little girl said that she didn't have a daddy but that was fine with her and for the record, she was going to be a "Lady Pimp" when she grew up.
    I sometimes wonder what happened to those kids. They'd be about 30 now. I have a sad suspicion that they all grew up to become bond traders.