January 4, 2011

Powerless

I am typing this post with extreme difficulty on my son's tiny little computer, which is the perfect size for his tiny little hands, but ridiculously inadequate for my huge ones (okay, so my hands are actually pretty tiny too, but considerably bigger than his). To frustrate and demoralise me further, the cursor on his computer is a bright green dinasaur who refuses to point in the direction I want him to point, and then morphs mockingly into a monkey whenever I manage to wrangle him into position. And when I click, he becomes a banana. This is what I have to deal with.

And all the while, my son is cheerily tapping away on my perfectly large and lovely computer in the very next room. Which HAPPENS TO BE MY OFFICE. Did I mention I'm sitting at the kitchen bench?

So why am I working under these absurd conditions? Well, the truth of the matter is, my son asked to use my computer, and I have simply forgotten how to say no. In fact, I have forgotten how to parent, fullstop. This is the sad legacy of staying with my parents at the coast for a week. I can no longer remember how to manage my own children.

When I stay with my parents, I relinquish all parenting duties. I sleep in, and let my parents get the kids up, dressed and fed. I allow my mother to make meal suggestions and helpfully grate carrots for the salad as she prepares the rest of the food. I nap during the day whilst my parents take the kids for a walk. And then I lounge on the couch watching 'The Mentalist' until my parents have enough of the children and decide to put them to bed.

Now, obviously I am doing this all for my parents' sake. It makes them feel young and vibrant and needed, to be so hands on with their grandchildren. And it's wonderful for my kids to have such a close relationship with their Nana and Papa. I am being selfless by allowing them all to interact in this way.

But I suffer for it. Truly, I do.

Because child rearing is like a muscle. If you don't exercise it every day, it withers and dies. So when I return home, I am incompetent and hesitant. I don't know how to discipline. I can't remember how to cook. I forget to do the laundry. And I desperately crave my nap during the day.

Three year old Boo approaches. "I want choccie NOW!" she says. I stare at her blankly. I know there is some appropriate parental response (like "NO" or "Later") but I can't remember it. "Okay," I say.

Nine year old Pinkela has been playing Nintendo for four hours. I seem to recall something about that being bad for her, but have no idea what to do about it. I pat her on the head and go read the paper.

And my eleven year old son has taken over my computer. I know this is unfair. I know he has his own computer and that he should leave mine alone - or at least ask permission before he takes it over. But I can't seem to get it back. I sigh deeply and resign myself to the dinasaur-monkey.

But all is not lost. For my son has just told me he's finished with my computer. I am allowed to use it now.

This parenting gig is easy, after all.

17 comments:

  1. bahaha! I so know what you mean about the regression when you visit your parents. I haven't tried it with kids yet - thanks for the warning.

    and that cursor sounds cool. I want it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will be feeling the same way next week when my husband goes back to work. For the past two weeks, I've been praising his excellent parenting skills from my position on the bed under a fan reading a book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 7 weeks of living with my parents last year meant my parental muscle atrophied.
    It's taken months of gentle limbering up to get it back to it's former glory of: "NO YOU MAY NOT USE MY COMPUTER! BUGGER OFF!" (Well the last bit I only mutter under my breath, but you get the picture.) I wish you well on your road to recovery.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Have strength, Kerri. At least you're a serviceable parent :P

    I would be a terrible parent. Just ask all my former babysitting clients and their delinquent children.*

    *I might have made that bit up.

    ReplyDelete
  5. hahaha! now it makes sense - i used to think my parents were extra nice after being away cause they missed me, but it probably was because they forgot what they were doing!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mmmm, do I recognize this information about "parents" relinquish parenting once they are under THEIR parents' roof?
    You betcha!
    We love to see our grandkids - in fact so much, that they each have " sleepover" stuff here at the ready should they
    request sanctuary from their parents (!)
    But, not previously admitted till now, is that their parents appear(ahem) definitely SHED their responsibilities as they cross the threshold with offspring.
    "if Grandma says". " See what Papa says"
    - pool, snacks, play, foxtel viewing, computer...
    Then, our kids (the parents) check out the fridge, the pantry and sit watching while I(mostly) herd kids from areas of no-go (untrue, everywhere is GO these days) & meet their every need.
    After some time, by the time our house looks like the messy floor of a day care centre, the parents haul themselves off the couch, gather the kids (mostly!) and take the packages of freezer dinners I've prepared with them.
    "bye Mum" ...
    PS. this tale is slightly exaggerated for writing purposes only but it's true that in our house, its our rules..the parents wait for us to detetmine limits.
    PPS I do believe, my mother (God Rest Her Soul) would say we did the same when staying with her and my dad during 6 weeks of school hols with Hub and young daughter ...

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd love to comment, but I'm too busy dreaming about who I could relinquish my kids to for days on end so that I might be in a position to actually forget a little about being with them 24/7. I freely admit it: I'm green, green, green. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. As you know Kerri, I'm not a parent *claspshandsandlookssywardsmouthingthankyouthankyou*, but if I WAS, I'd tell my kids that I'm in charge and what I say goes,and that I will brook NO insubordination at ANY time.Then I'd go and hide from them.....

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kerri, could you please ask your parents if they would adopt me? I am very low maintenance, have no strict dietary requirements, only two kids and no husband. I would love to vacation with them on a regular basis and allow them to "play" with my lovely children.... And breakfasts in bed are optional...

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I need some new parents and my two beautiful children need soem grandparents. So to whom do I address my appl;ication for adoption. I'm happy to let Dorothy get hers in first but I'm soooo sure we are soooo much needier!

    No offence Dorothy. Just needed to jump onto your great idea.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We just stayed with my in-laws and I kindly let them take over most of the parental-type duties during my stay.

    Not sure if they enjoyed it, but I sure did. x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lucky you that your parents are into your children, mine have too many grandchildren & are over it. When i do visit them in Sydney, they undermine my parenting & i leave feeling so annoyed & my children are confused. The 3 hour drive back to Canberra is just long enough for a course in refocusing that grandparents are wreckless (is that how you spell it??) & have no responsibilities. Not to mention diabetes!! Me, i'm left with 4 sugared up children & a husband away 90% of the year, with detox to perform. Love Posie

    ReplyDelete
  14. With twins on the way and the two existing kids out of daycare, my in-laws are living with us 24/7 for the next 500-ish days.

    Yes, it's very cool. I haven't done the dishes in about forty days, or washed any clothes (yet everyday I come home to find I have a neat pile of washed clothing on the end of my bed).

    Of course, they *are* my in-laws. My FIL has the opposite views on everything to me, politics, religion, the environment, what is appropriate grammar to use around children, what is a good sized tile for the bathroom, stuff like that - so some of it is complete hell.

    And now I have to worry about atrophied parental skills? OMFNG!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi there Kerri, your resident stalker her to inform you that I love you, ah, I mean....your blog. I Have awarded you the Versatile Blog Award. See my blog for details. http://www.jodigibson.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kerri, could you please ask your parents if they would adopt me? I am very low maintenance, have no strict dietary requirements, only two kids and no husband. I would love to vacation with them on a regular basis and allow them to "play" with my lovely children.... And breakfasts in bed are optional...

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Mmmm, do I recognize this information about "parents" relinquish parenting once they are under THEIR parents' roof?
    You betcha!
    We love to see our grandkids - in fact so much, that they each have " sleepover" stuff here at the ready should they
    request sanctuary from their parents (!)
    But, not previously admitted till now, is that their parents appear(ahem) definitely SHED their responsibilities as they cross the threshold with offspring.
    "if Grandma says". " See what Papa says"
    - pool, snacks, play, foxtel viewing, computer...
    Then, our kids (the parents) check out the fridge, the pantry and sit watching while I(mostly) herd kids from areas of no-go (untrue, everywhere is GO these days) & meet their every need.
    After some time, by the time our house looks like the messy floor of a day care centre, the parents haul themselves off the couch, gather the kids (mostly!) and take the packages of freezer dinners I've prepared with them.
    "bye Mum" ...
    PS. this tale is slightly exaggerated for writing purposes only but it's true that in our house, its our rules..the parents wait for us to detetmine limits.
    PPS I do believe, my mother (God Rest Her Soul) would say we did the same when staying with her and my dad during 6 weeks of school hols with Hub and young daughter ...

    ReplyDelete

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