KPIs For Father’s Day

Father’s Day is only days away and this year the kids have decided to do something a little different. The old man has everything he needs and so this year they have come up with the novel idea that his special day is focused on self-improvement. They have identified several ways in which they believe he could improve his relationship and parenting skills with me them.

Fathers Day KPIs
What I See… by Normand Desjardins at http://www.flickr.com

Don’t get me wrong, the old man is the best father in the world when it comes to getting them out of financial holes, rough and tumble, communicating and behaving with them at their age level, but there are certain key areas they believe, there is room for improvement.

So here are the KPIs the kids have come up with for him to work on over the next year:

  1. They have requested that he NOT put on his invisibility cloak the minute they walk in the door, when their friends come around or when the doorbell rings.
  2. They have stated categorically that they don’t mind if he plays ‘bad cop’ once in a while, (instead of Mr Whiter Than White), when parenting shit needs to go down.
  3. They have suggested that he could be a better role model in certain areas. That they wouldn’t mind if he backed me up occasionally in what he sees as my petty desire to eat like the Walton family at the dinner table, instead of making a childish beeline for the sofa the minute my back is turned; that he could turn the television off at a decent time on school nights and it wouldn’t kill him to eat all his vegetables rather than making that puking noise whenever I put anything green on his plate.
  4. That he might even consider the consequences of wrinkling his nose at my cooking and the effect that immature behaviour has had on the attitude of our kids to my food.
  5. He might consider using different demonstrative adjectives and verbs other than the F word in front of them.
  6. That his habit of buying them off with presents and handouts on the rare occasions he is in charge could be seen as emotional blackmail by some…
  7. And that McDonalds is not a suitable meal substitute for them when I am not there to cook.
  8. That homework still needs to be completed even when I am not available…
  9. And that, AS A PARENT, he might consider picking up the phone when Kurt’s school calls.
  10. Finally, they have decided that after thirty years even he should know by now that the best way to get around me is with wine and chocolate and that as we are both parents, it might be fairer if he shares the role equally.

The California Killings and Two Sides To Every Story

two sides to every story
two sides to every story (Photo credit: Norma Desmond)

Just when you think there might be a measure of sympathy out there for parents who struggle day to day with ‘different’ kids, another ‘crazy’ in the US goes out on a killing spree, citing women as his problem.

 

And now everyone thinks that all kids on the Spectrum are psychopathic nutters who could easily go out and mercilessly kill in retribution because they felt a bit hard-done by.

 

And at a time when awareness for these kids was finally improving, in spite of Abbott’s cutbacks.

 

I’ve said it before (and I’ll bore you again), but I HATE the way the media twists and spins the news without knowing all the facts. I may be the only one out there who thinks this, but I’m pissed off that this kid cited misogyny as his reason to kill too.

 

Because now the focus of the story is on the misogyny aspect and so the feminists have got on their high horses and are overshadowing what may be the real, underlying reasons that led this boy to act in the heinous way he did. They are also taking the focus off the victims.

 

Surely this story has to run a little deeper than a guy with a problem with women. Not that misogyny isn’t a dangerous problem – because, yes, misogynists abuse and kill women. But I’m certain that this case can’t simply be about a privileged boy who suffered rejection from women or felt entitled.

 

People seem to need to rally behind a cause these days and this guy has riled everyone. There’s the gun lobbyists in one corner and the feminists in the other. 

 

Could we just take some time to think about the victims first, who weren’t just women, and take the focus off the perpetrator?

 

Admittedly, I’m no different. Whenever I see some crazy act like this boy perpetrated or read about those kids who massacre their peers in high schools, I want to find an excuse for their evil, whether I look to mental health issues or nurture.

 

I don’t want to believe that the world is really that fucked up.

 

And sometimes I think I may be guilty of doing the same thing with my own son. Do I make excuses for him when what he really needs sometimes is a dose of Victorian parenting like the media suggests?

 

Because although I may joke about his behavior on this blog, often it’s not actually that funny.

 

And I’ve experienced those feelings of fear that all parents feel at times when their kid does something irresponsible, dangerous, highly anti-social even.

 

A little too often.

 

That fear that you may be raising a bit of a monster. Not on a par with the Elliott Rodgers or the Kevins of this world, but if you’re lucky enough to be the parent of a child without a mental condition or disorder you can’t understand the sadness at not being able to instil your basic human principles within your child, of empathy, integrity and morality.

 

It’s frightening when you can’t trust your own child to make the right moral decisions.

 

Elliott Rodger could have paid for sex if it was a problem. Let’s be honest – he had money, he had contacts and he lived in California. That kid was more likely to have remained a virgin because there was something odd about him, that worried women.

 

Because kids on the Spectrum don’t fit in with their peers –  they are often verbally constrained, anti-social, un-empathetic and immature for their age.

 

Sharing about Asperger's Syndrome by mimitalks...

But being on the Spectrum does not make you a killer and neither does owning a flash car or designer sunglasses. Life is not that simple. We are always trying to resolve these cases and fit them into a single pocket of blame, but they’re complicated. Invariably there are many factors at play.

 

There are usually two sides to every story.

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Tips To Discourage The Dreaded Teen Party

Teen party
Teen party (Photo credit: veleirosdosul)

So, the old man and I were supposed to be going on a mini-break this weekend, staying at friends over-night.

 

We were leaving NC in charge of ‘he who will not obey’.

 

Kurt is nearly seventeen. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it?

 

‘Pissing my pants’ is not a strong enough description for how I felt at the thought of leaving my son ‘home alone’ on a Saturday night until NC got home from work at 11pm.

 

In spite of trying to rationalise with Kurt, he refused to make any promises about his behaviour and his argument was that we needed to chill out, trust him but let him ‘be a teenager.’

 

You’ve probably realised by now that there’s no REAL secret to the age-old problem of teen parties, and that your first line of defence as a parent lies with the traditional art of blackmail?

 

Right?

 

After all, like us you’ve probably been honing your negotiation skills since the first day your toddler said ‘no’.

 

Well, this was our time to use those skills.

 

Serious negotiations began about two weeks ago.

 

I told Kurt the little white lie (because in parenting laws, little white lies are ok, right?) that NC’s boyfriend would be arriving at our house at 10pm to wait for NC; even though I knew that he was actually going to a Bucks night, would probably not be back until the early hours, and certainly would not be in any fit state to police my son.

 

I definitely mentioned that with Vivid Sydney happening close-by, the suburb would be teeming with angry police. I might have mentioned that I would probably end up driving home, anyway.

 

I also suggested he invite some friends over on Friday night when were at home, and to his surprise I actively encouraged as much debauchery as possible; my theory being that if he exhausted himself the night before, this might preclude him from hosting an event on Facebook.

 

Sure enough, his friends checked in on Friday night as is their want when free food is mentioned but they ended up watching back-to-back episodes of Puberty Blues and no amount of fizzy drink and sugar could drag them off my sofas; not even my suggestion that they hang out, delinquent-style, at the local park.

 

In fact they looked at me as though I’d finally lost the plot.

 

Scientific Bean Review

I promised Kurt everything I usually forbid – all those treats that when we aren’t blackmailing him, he is only allowed to fantasise about. I let him name his take-out, I promised him blue and red sugary drinks and I might have even promised to share the password to the Apple TV at one point, in desperation.

 

But even with a firm risk management policy in place, that innate parental fear niggled at me and killed any real possibility of sleep for nights before.

 

The teenage party is something most parents of teenagers fear and the old man and I have faced it many times before, and ultimately one of us always ends up giving into it and driving back at some ungodly hour.

 

Then Kurt sent me this Youtube video and we realised once again that we are still rookies when it comes to teenagers.

 

 

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How To Raise The Perfect Child And Genuinely Celebrate Mothers Day

Something extraordinarily momentous is going to happen on my blog today. Something that doesn’t happen very often, so prepare yourselves.

 

Mr Benn The Pirate
Mr Benn The Pirate (Photo credit: a11sus)

This post is going to be a HAPPY post.

 

If Mr Benn can do it (Pom joke), so can I. So today I am choosing to be Pharell Williams and to ‘feel happy’, even though its taken all of my courage to post this piece because I am fully aware that I run the risk of losing those few loyal readers, who obviously share my antipathy towards life in general and get off on a good whinge.

 

And yes, I am fully aware of the potential repercussions. Anxiety says that if you find yourself in a happy place – Be FUCKING AWARE – no-one really gets away with that shit, and some hideous retribution will be lurking around the corner.

 

But I’ll ignore the voices for today, because guess what? Kurt is doing okay at school.

 

I SAID KURT IS DOING OKAY AT SCHOOL.

 

Cue: drum roll and god-awful trumpet sounds.

 

 

HALLELUJAH, Hallelujah, Hallelujah……

 

According to his teachers, (and I quote), ‘there have been no major behavior infringements this term, his key assignments have been completed and handed in on time (which makes his tutor the best $40 I’ve spent in a long time) and his teachers LIKE him.

 

‘I’m sorry, you must have made a mistake.’ I questioned. ‘My son’s Kurt Cobain.’

 

It turns out that my son is ‘trying’.

 

So this current state of euphoria must be what parents that don’t have ‘Kurts’ feel on parents evening? I keep humming ‘you are the wind beneath my wings’ playfully in his ear, but he swats me away angrily, like he would a fly.

 

But he has negotiated a Macca’s this weekend as the first recompense for ‘CONFORMING’.

 

It’s all my fault, apparently. So what’s new?

 

It was funny not walking away from the usual parent speed-dating night (thanks @meggsie62 for that wonderful analogy) without wanting to camouflage myself or hide and weep in the nearest dark corner with a bottle of Vodka. Strange not to feel deflated or fearful about my son’s future; I didn’t even HATE (WITH A WORRYING LEVEL OF VENGEANCE) every other parent in the hall and all their perfectly formed children.

 

I left that hall with my head held high, a very silly grin plastered on my face and a distinct spring to my step.

 

In fact what I really wanted to do was get on a soapbox and shout out to everyone there, ‘Yes, that’s my son, Kurt Cobain. Form an orderly queue, please, if you want to learn how to successfully parent a child with ADHD,’ and on the back of this I would obviously set up a financially successful parenting programme and cite wine and chocolate as my major influences.

 

But I was too worried that the old man might get to the wine drip I’d set up at home first.

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Blame The Parents

In our development as parents, we pass through many stages of learning.

 

 

When the first baby arrives and we realise that everyone has pulled the wool over our eyes about parenting, our main purpose in life changes to survival. There’s no time to analyse what we are doing or how we are doing it.

 

We muddle through somehow, and hope that we will make it to the other side alive.

 

The very parenting manuals that are supposed to support us have a tendency to make us feel like shit most of the time, and guilt often culminates in self-blame.

 

But we justify to ourselves that as long as we’re doing a better job than our parents, it will all work out in the end.

 

As our children grow older and easier, we become more confident in our parenting abilities and we eventually find more time to evaluate our parenting skills, in comparison to those of our parents. We can appraise their job more objectively now, because we now understand those what those heavy-duty responsibilities of being a role model mean.

 

We become more empathetic towards the job our parents did in nurturing us.

 

So blaming our parents starts around the same time as we become teenagers and develop a greater awareness of self, and ends the day we realise two things:

 

  1. That blaming our parents isn’t going to change anything.
  2. That in most cases, our parents probably did their best.

 

But we only gain that knowledge through experience of the demands of parenting ourselves.

 

Teenagers haven’t gained the full package of wisdom yet, (even though in many cases they might think they have), which is why they blame their fucked-up-ness on us.

 

Hence, the circle of blame begins.

 

My own teenagers, who are fundamentally good kids, often lob the finger of blame at me in the heat of a domestic crisis or try to use me as a scapegoat for their own mistakes. Like many mothers, I have lain in bed many a night, unable to sleep, blaming myself too.

 

But, are we really to blame?

 

Is it enough to do the best job we can, or do we have a badass responsibility (like the parenting magazines suggest), to be perfect and ultimately sacrifice our lives for the future of our children when we take on the mantle of becoming a parent?

 

It’s not like they’ll thank us when they become adults themselves.

 

One of my biggest battles with Kurt at the moment is to persuade him to give up smoking. No matter how hard I try to talk to him intelligently about the health implications of his habit and the number of lectures in PDHPE he has obviously chatted his way through, smoking is a crutch that helps his anxiety and makes him reluctant to give up. His last argument on the subject is always ‘Well, you smoked.’

 

Guilty as charged.

 

Yes, I was a smoker and at no time before my fortieth birthday did I attain the required maturity to face my own morbidity or to be a better role model to my kids.

 

I must have missed the clause about role modeling when I signed the parenting contract and it’s taken me a while to understand the small print.

 

And then there’s the minor detail that I’m not perfect. I probably could have read the kids more stories, not gone out and left them in the hands of babysitters I hardly knew, or fed them from jars as babies.

 

Like Kurt, I blamed my own mother for a long time – for dying and leaving me to cope on my own at such a young age. There were times when the kids were small that I despised her for not being there to support me, too – to tell me if the bath temperature was right or what a particular rash meant.

 

And my father didn’t get away scott free either. I blamed him for not being as paternal as the perfect role model image of a ‘dad’ looked like in my head.

 

The rapper, Eminem, blamed his mother for what was by all accounts a very dysfunctional upbringing, and only recently has he has been able to forgive her publicly, in his song Headlights.

 

It took me forty years to stop blaming my parents but I hope my kids find the wisdom not to judge earlier.

 

Are you there yet?

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20 Ways To Get Back At Your Teenagers

After extensive experience, I have come to the conclusion that much like oil and water, Kurt and school do not mix.

Singer Britney Spears was one of the best sell...
Singer Britney Spears was one of the best selling female performers of the 2000s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much of my time this week has been spent brown-nosing to school officials, inventing new punishments for my son (that will never work), consulting every ADHD manual ever written and perfecting a withering look of disappointment that I lob in my son’s direction at every opportunity I get.

And drinking crying.

(And I get a lot of those opportunities to give him THAT look, now that the school has insisted that HIS school holidays  are to commence earlier than those of the rest of the school).

I have found some solace, however, in the (some might call it ‘psychotic’) nocturnal pleasure of developing ways in which I can hatch my revenge, (lawfully), during the following eight weeks of school holiday hell.

So here are my tips on how you too can exact revenge on your teenagers, without actually averting them to your foul play.

  • Turn all the taps on in the house during their daily 30 minute shower ritual.
  • Remove all loose change from your purse.
  • Tag them on Facebook in those especially awkward family photos. Add photos of them as small children on the potty, naked, with braces and un-dyed hair.
  • Meet them at the school gates occasionally, saying ‘you just happened to be in the area.’
  • Alert the parents of their friends when your child sleeps over that your child may have a bedwetting problem.
  • Discuss with their friends the problems your child has with relationships, your concerns about their skin problems and that you suspect your child might be gay. Then tell them how your child still gets into bed with you in the morning and suffers from obvious attachment issues.
  • Get the family photo albums out with their friends.
  • Abandon your teenager just as the cashier is about to serve you at the supermarket while you run to find something you forgot and leave them there to fend for themselves.
  • Refuse to pick them up after 9pm in the evening so they have to walk up that hill or (GOD FORBID), suffer the indignity of public transport.
  • When they are grounded, tell their friends that it is because they have been naughty.
  • Turn off the home Wifi at 10pm.
  • Change the password to Foxtel movies daily.
  • Snapchat your teens photos of yourself getting dressed.
  • Wear low-cut, short Britney Spears-style dresses to their school parents evening.
  • Call them their pet names such as ‘Bunny’ and ‘Sweetpea’ in front of their friends and teachers.
  • Use teen slang with their friends – this is even more effective if it is used in the wrong context.
  • Pretend you and their father are locking your bedroom door on Sunday afternoon to go and have ‘special’ time.
  • Discuss the facts of life and sexual positions with them in great detail, using yourself and their father as an example.
  • Play Disney songs in the car when their friends are there.
  • Leave a selection of porn DVDs and sex toys out in a very visible place in your bedroom.

Helicopter versus Satellite Parenting

There has been a surprising amount of accusation levelled at me by both the old man and the teens about my mode of parenting recently.

The minute I am caught stalking, probing, over-organising, suffocating (NC’s words), or indeed ‘parenting’ (my words), NC starts making patronising whirring noises above my head. 

Helicopter versus satellite parenting.
Helicopter versus satellite parenting.

She appears to have forgotten the benefits of such intensive care – the ferrying from late night parties and testing of her knowledge in daily, quick fire breakfast rounds, just prior to her entry exam to selective school.

What none of my family seem to understand is that I am actually quite proud to be known as a helicopter parent.

I realise that it might be seen as wrong by some that I check the messages on my kids phones when they are in the shower and vet their friends on Facebook, or call them a minimum of ten times per day, but it is because I care.

I admit that the phone tracker may be a step too far.

And I admit that when you have helicoptered your child, it can be quite difficult to then get them out of the nest when you are finally ready for them to leave assert some independence.

But while I may be over intrusive bearing at times and have earned my right to be called a ‘helicopter parent’, the old man is without doubt a ‘satellite’ parent.

I have discussed the old man’s parenting invisibility cloak on this blog many times. 

He is of the opinion that my approach to parenting, whereby I support and ‘scaffold’ our children’s development, will ultimately lead them to run away from home as soon as they can reach the free zone outside my tracking zone. He believes that his laissez-faire, ‘satellite’ approach, allows them to make mistakes and occasionally fail, meaning they have to face consequences. Yet while he remains a distant parent, his justification is that he will still be there to offer a reassuring arm in times of real need….say, before they actually kill themselves.

He calls this ‘teaching them about independence’; I call it child abuse.

When you have a satellite partner, you are effectively a single parent, except in moments of crisis. In my cynical opinion, a satellite parent only interferes when:

  • It will make them look more popular with the kids.
  • They are called upon in desperation, whereupon, because they are not used to parenting, they generally lose the plot and make matters far worse.
  • When their interference will serve themselves in some way eg. Refusing to allow the child do something because it will cost more money or mean that ‘the satellite’ will have to give up their own time ‘to parent.’

Don’t get me wrong, the typical ‘satellite’ loves their children, but they don’t want or like the responsibility of parenting.

And there are benefits to this style of parenting.

The ‘satellite’ parent rarely receives the ‘I hate you and when I’m older I will kill you slowly’ depth of communication with their offspring, because they are rarely involved in the minutiae of their child’s existence.

I imagine that most helicopter parents, like myself, are control freaks. Part of the reason parents like myself cannot let our children take responsibility for themselves or let go is because we want the best for them, in terms of their safety and reaching their full potential. We are over-protective because watching our children fail feels like a personal failure.

Of course, when they do fail, (because even a helicopter cannot hover and be there to pick up the pieces all the time), the satellite will then jump in quickly and blame the helicopter for not doing their job properly.

 

I’m Not A Helicopter Parent photo courtesy of Right Memes at http://www.flicker.com