Free Range Children, Red Rover and Other Novelties of the Past That I Wish They’d Bring Back: Act 2

Experts, manuals and all the advice

When Clem and I became parents, we were completely unaware of the many manuals on child rearing, not to mention the insane amount of advice offered about parenting everywhere you looked or went. I’d read the lists of things recommended and felt overwhelmed. It’s hard enough to have a baby and breastfeed and not sleep, and then do all the things the ‘experts’ recommended while just trying to survive. In hindsight, I have many regrets, and this is one of them. Your children are only at the stage they’re in, at this one moment in time, and never again. Enjoy it.

Seriously, I was also not expecting that I was to know everything when I discovered I was pregnant. I felt like an idiot for being ill prepared for not knowing every single little detail about my growing fetus. I had no idea they measured fetuses using fruit? And this is important because? I guess this would be the only time medicine truly wants you to read up on anything.  Just don’t advocate for yourself, they don’t like that apparently! I just wanted to enjoy these moments and feelings. Just being able to have a baby was such a difficult journey, you’d think that maybe we could just enjoy and prepare for it excitedly?

I mean, I knew to eat healthy, avoid alcohol/drugs/smoking, no contact sports or riding the mechanical bull at the bar (not being able to wear my hot pink rhinestone and sequined cowboy hat was difficult without the bull ha ha ha!), but some of the other shit was just ridiculous. I had to do some reading, and even then…really? Don’t continue your job as a crash test dummy and don’t eat detergent, even if you really crave it…I think some of that was self-explanatory. How did we survive before all of these wise words of wisdom from all of these people who’ve never bore or even raised children?

No one is perfect, it’s the unrealistic societal expectations that these ‘experts’ set the groundwork for, that causes us the stress.

Once you have your child, and they make it to small human-hood, that’s when shit gets real. It starts with, ‘Gotta keep em’ engaged or they’ll turn into a lucid potato!’  kind of thing or, ‘Don’t let them eat anything that starts with the letter Z until they can hop on one foot while juggling the balls from the ball tent in one hand’ (I’m screwed on that one!). You have to get down and play with the toys for them, read to them (that was too easy for me, I love to read), eat the dirt for them, lick the dog for them…do everything for them and don’t let them explore and experience firsthand, it’s better for them. If you don’t, they won’t survive.

When they’re a little older, you read about signing them up for everything and anything! Run, run, run, it’s how you do the parenting. I feel like we’re beginning to live in a society much like the one portrayed in the movie Idiocracy and moms/dads/parents have to be a Stepford Wife at every single moment, as per ‘expert’ opinion. I don’t know about you, but if we did everything these ‘experts’ recommended daily, we’d have no time for living this thing we call life. Ridiculous. And we wonder where some of these mental health issues come from? Stop this insanity!! Be the moms and dads you were meant to be and own it!! No one is perfect, it’s the unrealistic societal expectations that these ‘experts’ set the groundwork for, that causes us the stress. Let it go, I support you!

I don’t know…I make shit up, but I deduce that the ‘expert’ in child rearing is very much this definition…

expert (n)

ex-pert: one who has no firsthand experience on a subject, but has a boisterous opinion, coupled with a piece of paper saying they read about or observed this subject from a distance, while taking a dump at a highly profitable bullshit peddling university who was willing to back that fool up

My apologies, I’m not trying to be insulting, but none of us has the same cookie cutter lives whereby, much of this advice is very subjective. I often feel that these ‘experts’ require a very up close and very personal encounter with some Lego, Play-Doh, paint, sticky anything and cranky, sick, teething, sleep deprived toddlers for an entire year before they can claim ‘expert’ status in regards to parenting. Add the rest of life’s dealings, and maybe I’ll consider you’re advice. And with that, a shout out to all the moms and dads on the front line!! However we survive, is unique to each one of us. I no longer feel guilty for not doing all the ‘things’ because it’s not possible for me or my sanity and I will not judge any of you for how you survive in your journey.

I am a slow learner apparently, and it took my child being diagnosed with cancer to come to these realizations. I did all the ‘things’ and then some, and did it prevent anything, or do anything for us? NO! But, I finally realized this! All the advice we encountered, didn’t protect Clem, me or my kids and now I’m not following the ‘expert’ advice any more! I’ll possibly consider it after much thought and maybe research, but follow it blindly, hell no!

I hear you, the parents out there, who’ve had some of the ah-ha moments I finally had after struggling through some brutal miles. The ones who’ve traveled the path rarely taken and have come out questioning and rejecting the ‘norms’. Society should maybe hear, and consider what you have to say. If you encounter one of us ‘outliers’, listen and hear our story and seriously consider what we’re saying. Use your own thought process, obviously, but some of this information may or could actually save you or your child’s life, no matter how crazy you may think it is, just saying.

Wherefore art thou Red Rover?

These so called ‘experts’ feel that all of this is somehow integral in saving your children from who knows what. And, apparently being a male and never having children makes you even more qualified. Sadly, it’s too late for us, but not too late for the new little humans, seems to be their mantra.  Now, I don’t know about you, but most of us didn’t grow up like this and we turned out fine…didn’t we? Why do I need to question this? And where the hell did they put Red Rover?

You would’ve thought that we’d lit the kids on fire and told them to go run through the gasoline spraying sprinkler by their reaction.

That was such an epic game! The ultimate determinant as to where you stood within the hierarchy of your peers. The ‘ass’ of the group being called over and over, made to run but never break through. The near arm breaking hold you’d have next to your ‘bestie’, ’cause you ain’t lettin’ that little shit break through and own those bragging rights! Hell ya!! Can you imagine having a monthly game of Red Rover with your co-workers? Couldn’t ask for a bigger clue as to where you stand in your peer group! Sigh, those were the days.

Funny story, Clem actually did let kids try and play Red Rover at one of our practices not so long ago. Yup. I love him, but you have to wonder sometimes. He’d already allowed one child to be called over, she was the smallest of the bunch, before I got there to shut his ass down immediately. I saw some of the parents begin to panic, once the first child got hung up across the other players’ arms. It made me wonder, did any of these parents ever play Red Rover? You would’ve thought that we’d lit the kids on fire and told them to go run through the gasoline spraying sprinkler by their reaction. Apparently, this is also a faux pas…in case you missed the memo on the permanent banning of Red Rover.

I’m still wondering when that happened?! I am absolutely just kidding! I’m not stupid and understand why we put a stop to it!  But, when I think about my generation and our ‘outlawed’ activities, are eating detergent pods this generation’s defining faux pas moment?  Really? Very sad and not very creative, if you ask me. Maybe, we shouldn’t have done all the eating, playing and thinking for them? I’ve come to realize, that I’ve been doing this ‘parenting’ thing all wrong for my kids, and have finally summoned the courage to go with my gut….and I will make no apologies for it.

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