The Evolution of Parenting

Do you remember the episode of Little House on the Prairie when Albert Ingalls becomes addicted to morphine? It was a doozy complete with Albert stealing from Doc Baker, hitting his teacher and then going through severe withdrawals after Pa takes him away to a makeshift rehab at Mr. Edward’s cabin.

"Don't cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction."

“Don’t cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction.”

This episode shows that no matter the era, parenting is a really difficult job. Kids are kids. You will always have the needy infant, toddlers who throw fits for no apparent reason and of course, the rebellious teenagers.

The differences that come in to play between parenting during the 19th century and the 21st century, or even the generation before us is all of the technology and advancements to our world.

A lot of the technology and new inventions have made parenting in the present much easier. I feel bad that my mother’s generation had to use cloth diapers. I feel bad for the pioneer woman that had to wake up before dawn and start a fire in the house and bake bread even though she had probably been up all night with a baby. I know that dishwashers, microwaves and washing machines have made my role as a parent so much easier.

Technology is a double-edged sword though. It puts today’s parents in predicaments that Charles Ingalls never would have thought possible as he sat and cleaned up the vomit from one of Albert’s major puking sprees as he withdrew from that morphine.

The other day when I was in the shower, my 6 year old son came running into the bathroom screaming that my 3 year old son puked in the recliner while they were watching television. I quickly rinsed the shampoo out of my hair in a frenzy, horrifically anticipating the mess that waited for me when I got out.

I was happily surprised when I entered the living room and saw my 3 year old sitting in the recliner, watching his episode of Dora the Explorer with a blanket on his lap covered in puke. There was not one single drop on the chair or anything else. All I would need to do is deal with the blanket. As I lifted the blanket off of him I noticed something sticking out from the pile of vomit.

It was the remote control for the television.

Pioneer women may have had to make their own candles and hand sew all of the family’s clothes but they never had to figure out how to wash a remote control covered in puke.

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

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Don’t Mess With My System

In the past, I’ve never had any arguments about clothes from my kids. I buy their clothes without any input from them and I lay out what they are going to wear each morning. They’ve never said a word.

My pediatrician once recommended that I begin giving my children choices when they turned 3 years old. For instance you should hold up two different shirts and let them pick one so they feel they have some control.

In theory, this sounds logical. However, I know my children. Their decision making process is long, drawn out, can take hours and they always regret their choice. This in turn has sometimes caused tears when they have picked plain M&M’s at the store and later wished they had chosen peanut.

I figure our system works so why mess with it.

My 5 year old son, Bency, has recently thrown a wrench into our fine working plan.

I also have a 7 year old daughter, Iris. You would think if it was anyone is causing me clothing stress it would be her. The closest moment of “clothing hysteria” she has caused me was when she was in Kindergarten.

I sent Iris to school in thick cotton tights striped with rainbow colors, a spaghetti strap undershirt and a purple corduroy dress that buttoned up the front. She looked absolutely adorable. Much to my surprise, Iris came home in the afternoon wearing only her tights and undershirt. She said she had got hot and taken off her dress mid school day. I was completely horrified that my daughter had been running around school sans purple dress. Since then, I have never bought a dress that buttons up the front, worried that she might mistake it for a cardigan again.

We need dresses that zip up the back!

We need dresses that zip up the back!

Like I said, it is my son who is messing with my system after receiving a Christmas gift of an Angry Bird shirt from a friend of ours. Everything has changed. It is all he wants to wear. He doesn’t even want to take it off. I finally got him out of it a few days ago after I showed him the snot on the sleeve where he wiped his nose and the ketchup blobs on the front. He agreed I could wash it but as soon as it was out of the dryer he needed it right back.

Bency's new Angry Bird shirt

Bency’s new Angry Bird shirt

I’m sure this is only the beginning. I’m sure all of my kids will rebel at some point. If my two year old begins requesting Blues Clues shirts tomorrow, I will throw up my hands and move us all to a nudist colony. They certainly couldn’t mess with that system and the thought of no laundry sounds blissful!

Oh My Gosh

My 7 year old daughter, Iris, was a dream child. Starting at a very early age she would sit very quietly and flip through her books. She never once colored on a book or tore them. She would play toys all by herself and when she was done she would put them away. She never threw a fit about taking naps or going to bed. When we moved her to the “big girl” bed at 2 years old she never once tried to get out of it. She ate healthy food without bribes and has always been eager to learn.

As she got older, she became the voice of reason in our house. Last year, I made green colored popcorn for her to bring to school for St. Patrick’s Day. I told her to tell her class it was “Leprechaun Poop.” She told me, “Mom, that really isn’t appropriate to tell children.” Don’t try to say the word “stupid” in our house, even if it’s in reference to the coffee pot because it is brewing to slow. You will get a tongue lashing from her. My husband has been on the receiving end of her scolding several times when he says unkind things to drivers on the road or to the television when his football game is not going the way he likes it.

The craziest thing she has ever done was go through a period in Kindergarten where she would write her name with 2 s’s. She said her Spanish name was pronounced “I-REES” and was spelled, “Iriss.” I have no idea where she came up with this and there was no convincing her that she had to write her name with only one “s.”

Yesterday, I found a TRUE sign of rebellion.

When Iris was little I found an old school desk on the side of the road in bad shape. I brought it home, painted it and gave it to her for her 3rd birthday.

Iris sits at her desk almost every night writing stories, poems and lists. She dreams, plays and plans at this desk. I personally think she is getting too big for it but she refuses to let it go. She loves her desk. It has been well used and is showing its years of love.

I’ve been throwing around the idea of repainting it for her until I noticed something written on it yesterday.

The defacing of the desk with “Oh my gosh”

Oh my gosh!

This is truly a sign of rebellion if I ever saw one. Not only did she deface her desk but the words themselves speak volumes that she is ready to kick that “good girl” image!! I just know tomorrow she will be asking me to buy her black hair dye and black lipstick. Perhaps she’ll want a tattoo also. I’m sure a nose piercing and skipping school is right around the corner from that. Of course, I’m anticipating the request of spray paint so she can go deface store fronts with “Anarchy Rules!”

When Iris got home from school, I asked her why she had wrote, “Oh my gosh” on her desk. She froze and her eyes got huge and full of worry. She shook her head and was certain she had no idea what I was talking about. She slithered off to her room very quietly.

I stood back and smiled. Perhaps we’re okay. I don’t think she’ll be asking for that hair dye any time soon and as for “Oh my gosh”….I kind of like it. I’m not going to repaint her desk. It’s been loved and shares some secrets with my daughter. It’s at her desk that she dreams, plays and plans!

Iris’s beloved desk