You may be one of those parents who run, white-faced and silently screaming, from Mommy-And-Me and similarly themed parental support groups. You might, like me, enjoy being a grown-up. You may have no compunction shooing away a doe-eyed youngster who has become annoying. You may have no wish to orbit around your own tiny sun. Perhaps, like me, you refuse to play "Children's Music" in the car as you run your errands, thinking it a fine time to introduce your youngsters to Bach, The Kinks, or progressive talk radio. It could be that, much like myself, you encourage hours of solitary playtime, which you feel makes for a more independent and self-reliant child. If you are anything like me, you do not run yourself ragged in the pursuit of pleasing and appeasing your youngsters. You and I have been known to say "No." Sometimes we even (gasp!) RAISE OUR VOICES. There are a growing number of us: parents, to a greater or lesser degree, who are attempting to retain their sanity and reclaim their grown-up lives. Some of us work, but we are not beset by the kind of guilt that forces us to abandon all reason and spend our every spare moment catering to the whims of our children.
But I am still taken aback by the occasional and surprisingly humorless reaction to some of my musings involving badly-behaved children and their parents-in-denial. Among the generally enthusiastic and positive Amazon reviews of my first book, The Three-Martini Playdate, one cranky reader wondered, "Does Ms. Mellor even LIKE children?" I admit to feeling kind of sniffy and put out when I first read that, but then I thought to myself, "Do I even like children? Do I like all children?" Because some of them are absolutely delightful, and some are obnoxious and insufferable. Golly! Just like real people! Well, it turns out children are actually people too, albeit smaller and often whinier than the big kind. And yes, they can be adorable and cuddly and whatnot, but I’ve always believed they should be judged on their individual merits, just like the rest of us.
Do you like every person you have ever met? I doubt it. I certainly have to do more than lisp adorably and bounce my moppet curls to get along in the world. I think children need to know that eventually their adorableness will start wearing off, and they'll need some actual personality, manners, and social skills. I am generally not enamored of people who are petulant and demanding, who hit me and then expect me to fetch them a snack, whether they are five or forty-five.
Having children is not just about having children; it’s about raising adults. They don’t look like adults yet, and heaven knows they don’t act like adults, but they will be, very soon. Wouldn’t you prefer to grow the kind of adults who are pleasant to be around? They will never be pleasant adults if Mommy and Daddy cannot say “no” to them for fear of hurting their feelings; Love, cuddle, and nurture; but if you have turned your child into a full-time project, it may be time to find a new hobby.
Welcome to the Three-Martini Complaint Department! Now, go chill the glasses, and have yourself a little grown-up time.