Thursday, April 28, 2011

How do you parent another parent??

Anyone got an answer on that one?? How do you parent another parent?? I feel like I do that sometimes. Today, I felt like it was needed in Nixon's best interest.

The two moms I'm close to here, that I would consider friends, are both pregnant with number 2. One is due in about a week and the other is due in August. There's a big difference between these two friends and its not the due dates.
Friend A has a son a few months younger than Nixon. As I've mentioned more than once, Nixon is a laidback child. That includes letting little guy W climb on him. Nixon will fall down, W will climb on his back or lie right on top of him until he's removed. Nixon will try to crawl away but then he'll just stop. It's hard to stand by and let it happen but I do, until absolutely necessary, because I'd like to let Nixon defend himself. W's mom, extremely pregnant at this point, will stay seated and just yell for W to get off Nixon. Then she'll turn to me and say "It's so hard to move right now, because I'm so pregnant." Really, you're pregnant?? Oh thank goddess! I thought you were really letting yourself go!
Okay, so I'm kidding, I never really say anything, just offer a sympathetic type sound.
Friend B has a little girl a couple weeks younger than Nixon. She and Nixon are the best of friends and LOVE spending time together. They love seeing each other and we have no issues with them being mean or anything with each other. However, I think it's safe to say we both could survive without the screeching matches they get into. One will screech then the other will. Then they'll chase each other WHILE screeching! But Friend B never complains about her pregnancy, never just lets little miss M get away with murder because she's too "pregnant" to do anything about it. Her morning sickness wasn't an epic illness, possibly because this pregnancy has be very gentle in those aspects.

I know pregnancy is exhausting. Hell, I use to nap at work on my 15 minute breaks because I was so tired during my pregnancy! And while I don't want another child, I never begrudge someone who does. To each his/her own. But I really have ZERO tolerance for women who spend 36-40 weeks bitching and complaining non-stop about being pregnant! Its a temporary condition that is TOTALLY avoidable! Sure, every pregnancy is different but some things go without saying: you gain weight, are irritable, grow a belly, feel tired easily...and so on. Beyond that extent, I do not like when moms use their pregnancy to stop being a parent. You can't suddenly stop raising the child already here because you're baking another one.

So the dilemma today:

W found a stick at the playground. I don't let Nixon play with long, swingable objects as a rule. However, after the 2 of them started pulling on the stick I got up and broke it in half giving each of them a half. Peace lasted....about 45 seconds. W ended up with 2 halves again and Nixon was not happy. Nixon got a stick back and then they started rough housing. One thing led to another and the sticks started swinging at each other. Nixon got it in the leg and swung harder getting W on the face near the eye. W starts to cry, Nixon gets picked up by me and put in Time Out on the playground. The sticks are placed next to W's mom who declares "the sticks are also in time out". W was fine and calmed down, but I was not dealing with those damned sticks again. I grabbed them, broke them into quarters and then thrown them out. Nixon, still sitting in his time out spot, says quietly "bye bye sticks", then looks back at his feet. I let him sit there for a little while longer, apologize to W and his mom and finally get Nixon out of Time Out. He gives me a hug, says he sorry and tries to run away.
I walk him over to W and tell Nixon he has to apologize. Nixon plops on the ground and says "no". After 2 more unsuccessful attempts at an apology we leave the playground. The entire time, not once did W apologize for hitting Nixon nor did his mom apologize for the same offense. It struck me that the only thing she did say was "It's so hard to keep up with him when moving is so difficult." As if, once again, her pregnancy was the reason she didn't react. Or the reason she let him have the stick in the first place, because in order to take it away she'd have to get up.

I genuinely like them both and I'm hoping after the baby comes and things balance out, it'll be like it was with her before the pregnancy. Sadly, I'm not really expecting that to happen. I have a sinking feeling that the new baby will demand too much of her time and she'll be letting W do exactly what he's doing now, which is whatever he wants.

It's difficult being a mom of an only while being surrounded by multiples. I don't dare complain about how hard I find it because it's almost a definite the response won't be a sympathetic ear but more an eye roll followed by "YOU've got it hard try.....(enter random rant about life with more than one child) here". Having an only child does not negate the difficulties of parenthood. I'm a perpetual first time mom! Its just has exhausting and difficult but probably less chaotic than the life of a mom with more than one child. I feel like, and this is in my own head of course, that Nixon has to be well behaved for fear of being called spoiled. He needs to be promptly corrected for misbehaving because I'm not doing anything else. And I feel like if I fail he will forever be "an ONLY child", victim of a title commonly said as an explanation for a child who is the center of his/her parents universe and excuse that parents of multiples use to justify any acts that siblings could get away with but only children are not allowed. Not sharing a toy? It's because he's an only child and never has to share. Shy? Its because he's an only child and not used to other children. Goofy silly behavior? It's because he's an only child and has to entertain his parents since there's no way they could possibly be happy and well-balanced with only one child, right??

The fact of the matter really is this: I punished Nixon because hitting his friend with a stick, even if it were provoked or self-defense, is wrong. Not apologizing afterwards could've gone overlooked, but that's not how I'm raising him. He has to take responsibility for his actions the good and the bad, even at 2 years old. And while I feel the whole thing could've been avoided if the stick had been taken away in the first place from W, I have to accept that I cannot force another mom to make a parenting choice she clearly doesn't want to make.

Why does motherhood feel like the newest high school experience?? I hated high school because of cliques, because I didn't fit in and most of all because I was far from popular because I was being myself. Wow....talk about full circle!

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