Ask my kids, and they will tell you that I am currently in the parental equivalent of the doghouse. My sin? Telling them no. Well, I suppose that’s not it exactly. My real sin is that I am not the kind of parent that Lucky Kim has.
Let me explain.
The Sandersons live in the yellow house down on the corner, a lovely little Cape Cod complete with white picket fence, a jungle gym, and a trampoline in the backyard. All of which has been purchased and placed in order to occupy the youngest Sanderson, an eight-year-old named Kim.
The elder Sandersons seem to be a good enough lot. Dad works at a nonprofit in the city, and Mom, from what I gather, seems to be a professional volunteer. I’ve seen her on early Saturday mornings, placing signs and placards into the trunk of their hybrid car that correspond to whatever cause seems to be the flavor of the month. Her husband and little Kim will follow out soon after, and off they go. I guess it depends on the issue as to whether they protest or support. They’ve been fairy busy since all this Occupy Wall Street stuff began.
They’re pretty progressive folks, the Sandersons. And when you live in a pretty traditional town like ours, that makes you stand out about as much as a purple elephant. But they’re good folks nonetheless. I figure to each his (or her) own.
Our kids have been over there once or twice to play with Kim. They always return with fantastical tales. Not merely of Kim’s toys or the trampoline in the backyard, but also of how Kim’s parents treat her as an adult rather than a child. Kim can generally come and go as she pleases. She can eat whatever she wants (as long as it isn’t meat, as my son informed me the Sandersons are “vagetaryins”).
At any rate, hanging around so much progressivism has got my kids to thinking, Why can’t my mom and day be like Kim’s? I got so tired of hearing about how fortunate the younger Sanderson is and how much better her life will surely become that after a couple weeks, I began referring to her as Lucky Kim.
I tell my kids to clean their rooms. They say Lucky Kim never has to clean her room.
I tell them to do their homework. They say Lucky Kim’s folks say homework isn’t nearly as important as “real life experience.”
I tell them to say their prayers. They say Lucky Kim’s folks don’t believe in God, which is kind of sad usually but sometimes must be kinda nice because then you can do whatever you want and never feel guilty after.
You get the idea. It all kind of got out of hand.
There’s been a Lucky Kim moratorium in place for a few days now. I’m not sure if that was really the right way to handle things, but that’s how I did. Sometimes parenting is all about going with your head and not your heart.
I hear Lucky Kim’s folks think this is all because of their politics, another instance of liberals like them never being able to get along with conservatives like me. I don’t know if there’s anything to that. I like to think it isn’t. I like to think that despite whatever differences people have, they can still get together long enough to play every once in a while.
Then again, sometimes those differences are so great that it might be best to keep a little distance. And with us, those differences are pretty great. We’re equal in that all we want is a good future for our kids, one where they can grow and live and love and become anything they want to be.
I guess you could say that where we veer away from each other is the area of focus. You see, the Sandersons are all about making the world better for our children. That’s why they do the things they do. And don’t get me wrong, that’s admirable. In fact, you could say I was once like that.
But me, I do the things I do for another reason.
I say no and I set limits and I make my kids work not so I can make the world better for them, but so I can make them better for the world.
My children don’t understand that. Not now.
But they will later, and they will thank me for it.