Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Being a Good Parent

Perhaps you heard the screams of anger and frustration. Perhaps you wondered at the high-pitched wails. Perhaps not. They are, to a parent, rather common. You learn to turn them out eventually.

Captain Chaos might have finally mastered the arts of staying in his seat for the entire meal and washing his hands when told (without argument), but comprehending the cruelty of a mom who turns off cartoons deemed excessively violent.. well... we're still working on that one.

Four nights ago he was sent to bed without a story or song because, when I told him that Courage the Cowardly Dog was too violent, he went into hysterics and thought that things could be remedied by upending his container of wooden blocks.

The next night he again turned into a puddle of tears as I turned off The Simpsons when the mini-cartoon "Itchy and Scratchy" came on. I just don't believe that a four-almost-five-year-old can understand and appreciate social commentary. Call me crazy, but I think that he's missing the point of the excessive violence and why Bart and Lisa laugh so hysterically each time the cat is decapitated or tossed into the wood chipper.

In both cases, he screamed and cried and begged. In both cases, I held firm. The good news is that the second episode was both shorter and did not end in an early bedtime. (Apparently he learned from the previous night.)

Boundaries are interesting in my house. I tend to be quite permissive in many cases. Captain Chaos is allowed to jump on the family room couch, pile up the over-sized sofa cushions then leap into them, rearrange whatever unbreakable holiday decorations are up, and turn himself into a human mudball. When I come home to discover that he and Aunt Na have painted each other's faces with whatever Crayolas they could find, I laugh. There are designated shelves in the pantry and another in the fridge where Chaos can go help himself to any snack he wants at virtually any time of the day -- they are, however, chock full of healthy stuff.

You want to eat raw carrots fifteen minutes before dinner? Okay! How about some broccoli to go with it?

I think I'm doing okay. It's not easy, which is a given; but the results are worth it. He's a pleasant, well-mannered, intelligent little critter who never gives me much pause, even in public. Essentially, I try to let him be as much a kid as possible without disregarding those very necessary social conventions such as please and thank you and respecting other people's property.

We're working, however, on respecting his own property as today he was channeling his inner Pete Townsand-slash-Julius Sumner Miller: giving a wonderfully loud concert for me and the hermit crabs... then smashing his blue plastic guitar on the ground. Over and over and over.

He wanted to see what would happen, as the night before we were talking about how glass breaks more easily then plastic.

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