Thursday, April 4, 2013

Parental Guidance

I was driving down the street alone this morning when a Taylor Swift song came on the radio.  I love Taylor Swift.  I love the music of a lot of young singers today.  They are fun, peppy and usually uplifting.  Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Rihanna, Shakira, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood......and Taylor Swift.  So as I usually do, I sang along.  I did so because, well, that's what I do.  Always have.  As long as I can remember since learning to drive, I have sung in the car.  When my children were young, I sang in the car and it wasn't a problem.......until they were about 8 years old.  Then things changed.  If I sang to the songs of the 60's, 70's or 80's, that was okay on occasion.  But if I dared to sing along with anyone else, the eyes would start to roll and a whiny "Mawwwwww-um!!" would be uttered and I would shut-up.  This morning I sang and no one rolled their eyes.  And it got me to thinking about the unwritten rules for parental behavior.

Children are naturally embarrassed by their parents.  Especially when peers are present.  Babies and toddlers love being with Mom or Dad, but  when a child reaches elementary school they gradually learn from their peers that parents just aren't cool.  Conversely, kids aren't cool if they like being with their parents.  So  around age 8, the shunning and eye rolling begins.  However, the rules for parental behavior are not set in stone.  If your child is a rule-breaker, a trend-setter or popular, he/she can decide what is verboten and what is not.  This type of child doesn't care if peers find parental behavior objectionable.  Their parents are allowed to be room mothers, den mothers, car pool drivers, field trip chaperones or  PTA President without incurring the wrath of their children.  These parents also possess an abundance of photographs of their kids taking part in school plays, recitals, concerts or sports.  It's one of the perks of admittance to their world.

So over the years I have mentally stored knowledge for the rules of unacceptable behavior and followed them because, to be honest, I was scared of my kids.  I gotta say it can be truly heartbreaking when you realize that your little peanut doesn't want you around anymore.  And telling an insecure child to ignore peer pressure is tantamount  to asking them to wear a sign that says, "I'm a momma's boy (or girl)!!".  They would rather cut off a limb before appearing in public with their parents.  And you never know when something seemingly innocuous is suddenly added to the list.  What was acceptable yesterday can be on the list today without a memo or warning.  Parents are expected to know the rules and if they forget, there are penalties. Usually in the form of verbal condemnation.  It's not pleasant.  Believe me.

In solidarity with parents everywhere, I give you The List.  You are welcome.

Rules for Parents (according to their kids):

 1)  Don't wear sexy clothes, especially nightgowns.  And NO cleavage, ever!!
 2)  Don't sing along to songs done by a younger generation.
 3)  Don't do "raise the roof" gestures or "high 5-ing" me or my friends.
.4)  Don't yell out "You go, Girl!"  at public functions.
 5)  Don't wipe my face, straighten my clothes or comb my hair in public.
 6)  Don't attempt to imitate characters from movies or TV.
 7)  Don't ask to be Facebook friends.
 8)  Don't get too chatty when my friends visit.  Say hello & LEAVE!
 9)  Don't try to sound cool by using the latest vernacular of my generation like the word "dude".
10)  Don't hug or kiss me in public after age 5.
11)  Don't call my name & wave at school functions or in public.  One exception: graduation.
12)  Don't make noise during sex or smacky kissing sounds with spouses.  
13)  Ew, on second thought, just don't  have sex.  EVER!!!
14)  And for god-sake, don't dance!!!
15)  Don't be offended by my rules.  I love you, but I am awkward, full of angst and I just want to fit in.
16)  Don't ever stop loving me or being there.  This is just a phase. 

If I knew then, what I know now. .......