The new new thing

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Akiva has discovered play dates. It’s good news and bad news for me. I’m glad to see him so well-loved among his peers. I’m glad to see him have his own life developing. I’m glad that Bill and I are no longer the only people he wants to play with.

On the other hand, it’s hard for me to let go of some of my ideals, and it’s hard for me to know what’s important and what to overlook. I started this parenting thing with a greater-than-average amount of idealism, and while I (sort of) recognize that the real world demands that we compromise our ideals on a daily basis, it’s awfully hard to make peace with it. Now that Akiva is having friends over and going to others’ houses, I hear him talking about stuff he definitely hasn’t heard from me. In no particular order: Pokemon, Santa Claus, Scooby Doo, SpongeRobert SquareTrousers, Star Wars, Spiderman, et al. So far no mention of Mickey Mouse, but I know the recruiters for Team Rodent lie in wait.

Most of it is relatively benign and therefore it bugs me only because I’m crazy. But with it, I suppose, comes that gnawing feeling that my baby is growing up, and that little by little, he’s going to take over the task of deciding what he likes, and I’m going to have to deal with it.

There is another, less superficial, part of this that I’m also struggling to parse. What concerns for his safety are reasonable and what are outlandish? When he goes to someone’s house do I ask whether they serve processed snacks? Do I ask whether there are firearms in the home? Do I ask if they keep the television off during playtime? Do I ask anyone who is going to drive him if they have a driving record? Do I ask if anyone in the household smokes? Do I ask if they listen to music at a reasonable volume? Do I ask if they listen to bad music?

I am way too much of a control freak to be good at this parenting business.

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3 thoughts on “The new new thing

  1. I did used to ask about guns, but I don’t anymore, because I pretty much know everyone now. But next year my oldest starts middle school, so there will be all these new families from other parts of town! Yikes! No, you don’t ask about processed snacks — one handful of Ritz Bitz won’t harm him. And you can tell if they smoke because they reek. I don’t think anyone smokes anymore anyhow.

    Wait till Gidi gets older! I can always tell which of my kids’ pals are the oldest or youngest in the family. When my oldest was little, kids would come over who were exposed to Jimmy Neutron! And gum! And who knows what else! I was horrified. Now my youngest is the one horrifying all the other parents because she’s the advanced one.

    I firmly believe that birth order is the defining characteristic of kids in general.

  2. Ayala

    Oh, sweetie, I can so relate. But my need for some me-time eventually overcame my ideals and now the kids watch the most vile crap on Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel. Nothing that will actually *harm* them — but, maude, I can’t even stand to overhear most of it. And having brought a teen into the house! Every dinner for the last month has started with a hysterical chorus of giggling “Yo’ Mama!” from the whole peanut gallery. I eventually learned to let go and not sweat the small stuff. And — in the scheme of things — most popular culture, imbibed in small doses — really does count as “small stuff.” Your boys are always going to have such a rich, quality cultured background. And, yk, given Jared’s reticence to read — I admit I have fed his Star Wars and Scooby Doo addictions quite a bit. I buy him every book or magazine about either topic — just so he will read something.

    In terms of the safety issues. Yeah, you do need to know about the gun thing. And about driving: Well, generally I was pretty nuerotic about this. Up until Jared was almost 6 — no one drove him but me, DH, and the in-laws and my one really close mom friend. Now that he is 8, that’s less practical with car pooling to cub scout things. And with Jayla, at 4 — yeah, she gets into the car with other moms for playdates. But really there’s only a handful of moms that I do this with. The big thing about safety is that, in general, I’ve always had at least one “mom and kid” playdate at someone’s house before I’ve left a child there without me. So I can get a feel of the house and of the mom’s parenting/supervision style. I am pretty conservative about it actually. But for me it’s only about the safety. In terms of being exposed to ideas/foods/culture that I might find “unsavory” — well, I just have to hope that the example we set and the conversations we have with them at home will give them a good base, yk?

    The whole parenting thing being in-conflict with control. Hell yeah. It’s heartbreaking and terrifying when you really get how much this is true. And, the bad news is that, at least for me, this tension gets worse as they get older…

  3. And now a word from the autism spectrum…

    I do hear your concern about popular culture — Scooby Doo et al. But let me tell you, I am nothing less than thrilled when Abby (6) or Brian (3) pipes up about something I know they didn’t learn at home, because it means they have become socially aware enough to absorb something from a peer.

    My kids actually spend time in therapy learning about popular culture, especially Abby, so she’ll have a topic to talk about at lunchtime in school. We’re all about High School Musical these days…even little Timmy, who is 2 (I concur about birth order!)

    Not to dismiss your concerns in any way…just wanted to share a different perspective.

    xo
    Julie

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