Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tattoos Are Forbidden Until She's Eighteen, But...

My oldest daughter is rocking a fawk (faux 'hawk), and honestly, I could not be prouder. Most parents would be upset that their fifteen-year-old little girl cut her below the waist blonde hair into a spiky warrior ‘do, but not I. Oh, no, not I. Or is that “me”? Darn, I’m having a fuzzy grammar moment. Give me a sec to gather my wits.

Anyway, I’m the sort of parent that some would consider too liberal -- I don’t have a stroke if one of my angels utters a curse word once in a while, although I’ve made it very clear since they were old enough to understand that if they dare curse at anything that lives and breathes, say, calling their unusually cruel and incompetent teacher a “goddamned shit-nosed wiener-eater,” or addressing the little fucker down the street as “big fat asshole,” or, God forbid, calling the uptight evangelical Christian family member a “dried-up old hypocritical bastard with repressed homosexual tendencies” there will be hell to pay. Cursing at inanimate objects, when the occasion calls, is fine, though. As some of you may recall, my vacuum cleaner and computer are both cursed at on a regular basis, those old whores.

Another example of my liberal parenting would be my utter lack of interest in child on child arguments. My guts ache with contempt when I’m faced with a “concerned” parent who wishes to stick her hairy, bulbous nose in her and my children’s business. Is it so horrible to allow kids the freedom to experience peer difficulties, to figure out their own solutions, to be the sometimes irrational, whiney, mean little snots they are meant to be without constant parental intervention?

Some of you more conservative parents will gasp at my disinterest, will shake your heads and murmur to yourselves that Ms. Lori is a cursing, inattentive monster whose children should be taken from her as soon as possible, and that’s fine by me. I don’t care. I do not care if Susie won’t share her Polly Pockets, and I do not give a flying Barbie boob if one of my kids tells Susie that she does not want to play because Susie is a selfish brat who smells like orangutan butt. Really, I don’t care. Can’t be bothered. I’m the type of parent who will look Susie’s concerned parent in the eye and say, “Give me a break. Go back home and finish filling out the calendar you keep for your exhausted, over-scheduled kid and leave me alone.” Kids are kids are kids, and unless someone is being physically harmed or bullied, there is no reason for me to get involved.

Perhaps the most telling trait of my liberalism, though, is my continual encouragement of my kids to express themselves in any way they see fit, to be individuals. I want them to feel comfortable being themselves, hence my opening statement; my girl’s new fawk will surely raise many a concerned eyebrow, and I expect to face many a pursed prune lip as a result. Some concerned parents in my neighborhood have, in the past, felt it necessary to spy on my girl (though they wouldn’t call it spying - they call it “gee, I happened to be at the same place at the same time as your daughter, and golly, well, I saw her walking with her boyfriend, and my goodness, she certainly has an unusual style what with her ripped fishnets and skull t-shirts, and…”

Shut up, you nosey, PTA-sucking, stretch pants-wearing, Laura Bush-worshiping pube.

I’m proud of all my children, whether they choose to wear camouflage snow pants to class on a warm, sunny day, or wear ripped fishnets and fawks, or write dark poetry and read horror, or if they find the theory of intelligent design ridiculous, if they find it plausible. I am proud of them regardless of myriad mistakes they make and will make, regardless of the stupid things they will do or say, the many times they will fail, the heartache they will cause themselves, because I know that they will learn from every stumble, and I respect their right to learn. Kids are kids are kids, and my beliefs revolve around the fact that all kids will test limits, will stumble, will break your heart, will, if they have a mind of their own, do what they must do in order to figure out this life, and all we can do as parents is be there for them, allow them their freedom within reason, be open to their every question, encourage them, discourage them in regards to drugs, peer pressure, and always but always make it clear that we will love them no matter what, even if they stumble, especially if they fall.

I want my children to be comfortable in their own skin, to grow into creative, compassionate, successful adults who think outside the box, not huddle within, and the only way to achieve this is by letting them be comfortable in their own skin. They may try on all kinds of different costumes in the process, but if they wind up truly liking what’s underneath, I’ve done my job.


At 5:36 PM, Blogger J. Stephen Reid said...

I truly wish my mom had been a lot more like you when I was being raised.

Getting smacked and disowned every five minutes can be pretty depressing.

Your kids are going to be really grateful someday.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I want you to be my mommy.

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Aw, Joshie, you're such a sweetheart. Thank you.

I'm SOOOO not a perfect parent, and Lord knows I make a ton of mistakes, will never win Mother of the Year, but I raise my kids the way I wish I had been raised -- with genuine respect. I do the best I can, just like our parents tried to do the best they could, and I guess that's all any parent can do.

I have a feeling you're going to be a great daddy, Joshie. ;-)

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Well, damn it, Stephanie, c'mon over here and let me give you a huge hug, then. And pick up that pigsty of a room!

At 6:16 PM, Blogger W. Olivia said...

AMEN! I'm so tired of these parents who forbid their kids to wear what they want and DO what they want to their hair. I draw the line at tat's and piercings in odd places, but other than that, my kid can dress the way she wants (within reason and as long as her privates are not in view for all and sundry) and do as she pleases with her hair.

I can't wait to see her new 'do, babe! ;-)

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Jas... said...

PTA-sucking, stretch pants-wearing, Laura Bush-worshiping pube.

Goddamn! Are you doing anything tonight? I wanna get my groove on with you, stat!

At 7:26 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Oh, it's so cute, Olivia! She looks like a little punk sprite. ;-)

Jas, in the words of the great Marvin Gaye -- Let's get it on!

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Bill said...

As my little one gets older, I try to allow her her freedom to grow. Unfortunately, lately it seems I'm still so busy growing, that we seem to be at odds. Especially since her mother and I have always had different parenting styles. For instance, Courtney does bowling, gymnastics, dance (those last two are at the same place, on the same day), and until recently, swimming lessons.

I was not happy with this. Too busy. When does she get to play? But I didn't have much say. Still don't. And I'm too tired to fight and, right now anyway, can't provide an alternative.

Anyway, Lori, good on ya!

At 1:20 PM, Blogger windreader said...

in my mind, good parenting is all about showing your children the opportunities available to them and helping them decide which offer them the best consequences. I was not interested in trying to force my kid into my image of him. but since we brought him into the family when he was 15 he already had a sense of himself.

but I have to admit that I was totally proud to help him create a 'do that involved shocking pink hair with black leopard spots. I had leopard spotted hair (minus the shocking pink) when I was a teen. and then it occurred to boy was just like me.

sorry for quoting sappy 70s pop in your blog. you can punish me in any way you see fit and I promise to act like I am not enjoying myself.


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