A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hairy Situations

Cutting the children's hair is a combination of playing the boardgame "Operation" and trying to stop an electric fan with a broken knob from rotating. Scissors skills aside, what mums really need in DIY salon is patience... tons and tons of patience. Oceans of it.
The 9 year old is jumpy, whingy and ultra sensitive. And then there's that "Have you finished yet, Mum?" at two minute intervals.
The 3 year old is twitchy, curious and in a hurry. And then there's that whiny "I wanna get down!" at 10 second intervals.
So I when I take my time to stand back and appraise the situation, they think it's all over.
If only there was a way to strap 'em down until it's all over.

A blog post I read today called, "In America, Are We Free to Be Lousy Parents?" provoked a few thoughts.

Years ago when I was working at my first real job (not freelance tutoring), a couple of my colleagues was whining about McDonald's and how it was an evil metastasizing influence on children.
That it was all the fault of McDonald's that children were becoming obese because the Big M had the resources to seduce children and weak-minded parents to patronize their restaurants with toys and playgrounds etc etc.

I didn't have children in those days but it struck me as odd even then that segments of the public were blaming McDonald's for the lack of nutrition in their children.

I'm not a fan of McDonald's and I'm not trying to defend them here. But really, is McDonald's ultimately responsible for the lack of nutrition in our children's diets?
Don't parents have a choice? Aren't we responsible any more for the choices we make?

When I was working with adult TESOL students, I used to whip out a video of a debate on obesity. The participants came from a wide cross section of interests. In this chinwag, there were the big wigs from the food industry, a couple of chefs, a well-known nutritionist, members of the general public, a sports health notary, and representatives of the advertising industry. It was a good debate and one that was necessary for reasons beyond obesity.
Quite early on in the show, one working mother put forward the case that contemporary life is pretty hectic and often parents would resort to eating out because they were so exhausted after work. In response to these comments and others, one of the chefs suggested that it didn't take long for anyone to throw together a simple but decent pasta dish and salad.

I have a great deal of sympathy with that mum having been a working mother off and on for 8 years. During that time we would eat out once a week. But it was my choice... to work and to eat out... I had the money to do it. No one put a gun to my head to dine out and my preferred places to frequent was Asian.
In the end, it was my choice to leave the workforce temporarily so that I can spend more time supervising the 9 year old. However, that meant that we had less money but guess what, I've become a better cook. For a while there, I even planned my weekly menu (which I hope to do again when I return from my overseas trip) and put together a shopping list.

But life has its costs and benefits. There is no perfect life, perfect parent or perfect child. It worries me that we're ceding more and more of our parental rights to government every year because there are some parents that don't do the right thing some of the time.

It seems to me too, that we're far too judgemental for our own good.
I was one of those people. However when you have kids you learn very quickly that they're not all cut from the same mould. The 3 year old can be very endearing but when she's bored, she transforms into the child from the Underworld.
Clearly we don't always know why someone is having difficulties with their parenting either. Could be the child has a condition or disability. Could be a health issue... could be the mum is having a bad patch. 
Who knows.
Now, I'm not saying the parents should be free to abuse... but free to make mistakes and learn from them.
But getting governments to regulate what we eat, where we go and how we live our lives will gradually result in the imposition of a one-size-fits-all scenario.

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