18 Oct 2011

How do your children see you?

Have you ever wondered how you children see you? My 13 year old was watching Disney's "Good Luck Charlie" the other day and pointed at the slightly eccentric but savvy and lovable mum and said, "She's just like you."

"What do you mean?" I enquired.
"Mad," he replied. Mad? MAD?
"I think she's a cool mum. She's always one step ahead of her kids," I said, defensively (Yes, okay, I have been known to watch it with him).
My son, teenager that he is, rolled his eyes and gave a derisive snort.
Am I mad, I wondered? Okay, so I sing along in the car to the sound coming from his headphones, but this is a deliberate way of illustrating just how loud he must have them. I laugh at my own jokes even when no one else does. And I do silly dances in front of him when the music from his "Disney & ketchup" programmes are on. But this is because it amuses me to see him squirm and I wouldn't do it if he had friends there. After all, what's the point of having kids if you can't have a little fun at their expense now and again?
This got me wondering what my younger son, who's 12, thought of me. I know he thinks his Dad is 'soft as a pillow' because he's kind and softly spoken and lets them get away with stuff. I called him into the room.
"Son2," I said. "What do you think of me?"
He gave me an uncertain look, clearly wondering if the truth was required. Apparently, it was. "You're shouty and stern," he said. Then seeing my hurt expression he quickly added, "But a nice person and... a good bloke. Is that it? Goodbye." And off he went back to his techno-lair, also known as his bedroom filled with geeky stuff.
So, what am I to take from this? Mad, shouty and stern but a nice person and a 'good bloke'. I suspect the last bit was just because son2 couldn't think of anything else to say.
I think I'm okay with it. After all, we can't both be soft as a pillow - someone has to lay down the law and make sure stuff gets done in a timely fashion. Sometimes that means being a bit sergeant-majorish, but that's what parenting is all about - giving your kids boundaries as well as loving them to bits. They're not going to like it when they're pulled up about things, but I'm not their mate, I'm their mother. It's in the job description. They may have special needs but I try to treat them as normally as possible. And I don't think that being like the Mum is "Good Luck Charlie" is a bad thing to be at all.