So, Spouse and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on the things the kids are allowed, or not allowed, to do. No biggie. I know full well we aren’t the only parents to have disagreements over their children. And it doesn’t bother me to know we don’t always agree. I generally win, just by virtue of being the parent who is with the kids the most. He thinks I’m looney. Ditto me of him occasionally. We’re both generally entertained by the argument much of the time.
We don’t have fences around our backyard. Rather, we have 8 foot tall cinder block walls. The walls are capped, and are about ten inches wide. The cats love to walk and lay on top of the walls. The birds and lizards frequently take refuge up there. I came home a couple months ago to find Spouse sitting on the back patio, Big Man walking on top of the back wall, and Little Man sitting on top of it. What the? Spouse had taught them how to get up there. Now we have a strict rule about not undermining each other’s authority in front of the kids, so I didn’t say anything right then. But when I got home from taking the Princess to dance one day later that same week, to find both boys walking along the top of the wall, I threw a mom freak-out. I informed them, under no uncertain terms, they were not to repeat the endeavor, especially when no parents were home. I thought that was the end of it.
Last night, Spouse and I were sitting on the back patio enjoying a glass of wine. The boys came out, and Little Man headed to the back wall, climbing up on the mulch bin, with the intent of getting up on the wall. “Absolutely not!” I yelled. Spouse looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “Why not?” he asked. I just shook my head. And then he said, “I used to do it all the time when I was a kid.” Um, yeah. We also used to stand up in the back seat of the car when it was in motion, slept in cribs covered in lead paint, with blankets, pillows, and fabric bumpers, and rode our bikes, skateboards, and roller skates without helmets. That doesn’t mean I’m going to let my kids do the same. “I did it when I was a kid” is not a valid argument with me, not that I think that in any way reflects upon the parenting my and Spouse’s parents gave. It was a different time.
Sometimes I cringe to think of the things we did when we were kids. My parents both worked. We had a sitter when I was younger, but from the time I was 11, my sister 9, and my brother 15, we were home alone. We swam in our pool, unsupervised by an adult, all summer long. We rode our bikes (sans helmets) to the library halfway across town all by ourselves. We cooked and baked without parental eyes upon us, for heaven’s sake! We did ride standing up in the backseat of the car. We bounced from house to house around the neighborhood without letting anyone know where we were. I walked three miles home from school most days, although never alone. We slid down the stairs on snow saucers. We had ice fights. We sunbathed for hours every day, slathering ourselves with baby oil and putting sun-in on our hair.
We survived. but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let my kids do any of those things. And I’m not going to let them walk on top of an 8-foot cinder block wall.