Well, I am. In fact, I founded the group, “Couch Parents Anonymous”. It’s a branch of the Lazy Parents Network. There are a group of us who parent quite comfortably from the sofa, settling the bickering and fights with sharp, loud outbursts they never saw coming. We have the remote handy for turning off the TV when the children fail to comply with our orders. Best of all, we are always ready for a nap when kids are ultimately run off to their rooms in a huff or are sent to the Time Out corner.
What do we hope to achieve with this complacent approach? Nothing. That’s just it. Parenting is over-rated. You can’t possibly do everything for your child or make them the person you want them to be. I was just talking to my hairdresser about how my school-age daughter is an avid reader. It’s her inherent nature, although we did read to her quite a lot as a toddler. I commented on how we have to make an effort to remember to read to our son everyday and my hairdresser burst out in laughter. “First-born!”, she said, between guffaws. I didn’t know it would be that obvious.
It seems the myth is prevalent everywhere. First-borns are smothered, coddled, and never ignored! The kids who follow have to fend for themselves. Why? The parent is tired. Tired of trying all the tricks in the parenting books, exhausted from the advice from strange women in the elevator of the pediatrician’s office who know exactly how your child is feeling but you don’t, and tired of sitting in Mommy-and-Me classes forcing their child to share their toy with other babies. And definitely tired of cleaning the home, car and stroller like it’s a full-time job.
Could it be good for the kids if the parents lay off a bit and take care of themselves for a change? It shouldn’t always be about the kids! It’s not so self-serving if you think about it another way. Let the kids figure their way through the day without your interference and watch them flounder, frustrate themselves, and maybe reap a personal victory all their own. Can you tell I’m fresh off reading Christine Gross-Loh’s “Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us”? (I only read half due to it being a library book….and after renewing a second month, I lost my momentum.) I remember playing in the yard, just my brother and I with a few neighborhood friends, exploring the mud, climbing trees, creating new games from junk we found and interacting with just kids, no adults around.
From the moment I left the house, I was on my own, entering not the park playground, but a neighborhood of potential improvised play. My parents had essential roles – dad worked during the day, mom cooked and cleaned, and both kept check of our homework schedule and made sure we kept up our personal hygiene. They didn’t accompany us on our afternoon explorations and didn’t constantly search for things to keep us occupied. I laugh as I tell my daughter sometimes how I used stationery (White-Out Thinner, Glue bottles and boxes of staples) as “people” and did endless role play with them on the book shelves. White-Out was asking Ponal Glue to the dance but the Box of Staples was jealous…
I’m exhausted from the questions I get now, “Mom, what do I do now?”, or “Mom, I’m bored!”, or “Mom, can I get this new game?” or “Mom!!!! This isn’t working!!!!”. To the last one, I have learned to remain silent. Five seconds later, I hear the less annoying words, “NEVERMIND!!”.
So that is why I don’t try sometimes, and am proud to be a CPA. Peace of mind. Time for myself anyway I can get it. In fact, it’s time for a nap now.