Friday, October 26, 2012

"R" Ratings and Respect

I went yesterday to my high school alma mater to volunteer as an alumnus hostess at St. Mary's Dominican open house event. I was reminded of recent conversations I had with my daughter. I told her that I was thrilled to be invited to watch my granddaughter's perform, but I had no desire to watch her chaperon the children of other people. I wondered about how hypocritical it may seem to her that here I stood for over four hours observing anonymous parents adore their precious progeny.

I shouldn't admit this, but I'm actually a bit weary of my children's roles as parents. I more inclined to "R" rated stories than to the "G" rated version of life, unless the stories are nuanced on many layers, like those of Disney. As soon as the children are able to get all layers of the "hidden" messages, things can get quite tense about what is appropriate. At this point, my children are really not nearly as much fun when they're "in charge."

For many years, I was in as close a place as I could get to heaven whenever I was in the presence of my children parenting their progeny. It was pure pleasure knowing that my children were in charge, and that I had no responsibility for the outcomes of their decisions and directives. My children were both very protective of their rights to be the only voices of authority for their respective children. As the Bible says about God, they were "jealous" of their rights over their children.

Even before the children were left in my care at their own homes, I would have their parents reinforce to the children that Granny was "in charge" and that I was representing the parents in their absence. I was the "supervisor" not the "business owner." When the children were at our home, my husband and I were the big bosses, and the children and parents had to accommodate to this. We continued to step back on the usual minutia of rules, but there was a layer of what we expected in our home that was non-negotiable.

While in our children's homes, we have valiantly attempted to honor the same pattern of, "In your home, we honor your rules." This has caused much friction as the grandchildren have entered their teen years. My children have become super sensitive to my every action around their children and spouses. My daughter, at one time, told me that an old lady's job was to simply sit around and say whatever I want about her life. This simply does not work.

My children's families have all been around me enough to know what's on my mind without my saying a word. The twinkle in my eyes or the wrinkle of my nose can set off a storm. God forbid that I should open my mouth about anything, including the color of the couch.

Don't get me wrong; I do honor my children's positions as parents, but somehow I sense that my presence makes them feel weaker than they want to feel. I am thrilled that both of my children seem to be compassionate leaders bringing up more like themselves, but their power struggles can be hard to take sitting down. There's an old-fashioned authority figure in my that constantly wants to whack one, or all, of them.

Perhaps my friend Martha was right when she said that we should marry our children off when they're thirteen. The tensions in the wolves' den when there are all these people preparing for or protecting their alpha positions is simply too much drama for an overly opinionated old lady to accommodate.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I got a big kick out of this one.

    My problem is, I was not the best parent, but I sure know how to tell the kids how to be. (Well I don't tell them much anymore, I do hole it in! LOL).