Lazy Parenting Creates a Win-Win for Everyone

(Published Fergus-Elora News Express May 2011)

So, I walked into the kitchen last week, and in there was my seven year old running a survey as to what sort of salad everyone wanted for dinner. I am liking my new baby spinach salad with oranges and chicken and he prefers a Caesar.

I was out voted, but not out-smarted. We had spinach but no lettuce, so technically I should win the option, due to the choices in the house at the moment. My response was we need to have spinach because that is what we have and I am not going out to get lettuce.

So my kid, suited up, raincoat in hand said ‘I’ll get the lettuce’. Some of you know I live downtown so the lettuce store isn’t that far away.
Thus my column on lazy parenting begins at the fridge.

Fast forward one hour and I walk into the kitchen, and literally a Caesar salad (cut/washed lettuce with bacon bits, croutons and even he shredded the parmesan!) has transformed itself into a large pottery bowl, on a set table, ready to feed the four of us. Plates, cutlery, filled milk glasses, and the works all courtesy of my youngest.Wow. As I was sitting at the table for our family dinner, I started making a list of how my lazy parenting has actually helped form two incredibly independent children.

My kids started walking home alone by grade two. To be fair ‘alone’ is with 200 other kids walking the same street, and I would meet them where the traffic became an obstacle. This was partly because of my work schedule, but also my mother telling me that my brother walked home other kids when he was in grade two back in the day.

Back to the fridge, er, now the bedroom.

At age four my son was asking for sleepovers at friends houses, who am I to say no to that? Free night avec husband, hello. No need to Ferberize my kid, I was again, lazy parent and said from the get go: no we are not having a snuggle fest to get you to sleep, no we are not doing a meet and greet in the night cause you are bored or your blanky moved. We snuggled ALL Day for crying out loud, no pun there, and sleeping is serious business. If you get yours, I will get mine, and we will be happy family.

I was recently slammed on FB when a desperate friend/ mom posted ‘how did you get your kid to sleep’ and I said ‘fill the child up with liquid, and a bit of cereal for filler. No! she basically screamed via the net, and I quote: “No offense Staci, but you’re not supposed to mix cereal in the bottle – can mess with their eating skills.” Really? I am looking at my 12 and 7 year old and they are eating their Harvest Crunch with no issue…. And making and eating Caesar salad and crepes on the weekend to boot!

My kids have been doing chores since they were able to communicate, because well, I hate chores too. The boys here want certain clothes clean and ready for school. Ya? Well then, you best go sort out the clothes into colours and when you are done, I will put a load on. Then, my eldest, you can fold and put the clothes away. Laundry is the big chore for Big J that occurs once every 1.5 weeks or so, leaving daily chores of walking the dog or perhaps helping clean the kitchen. The youngest is able to clean the bathrooms or unload the dishwasher.
My laziness stories could go on and on, but I have a point. My lack of anxiety surrounding food and bed and chaperoning has served us all very well, and perhaps their future spouses I would say. Anxiety is an issue hitting kids hard these days (many of them self-medicating in order to cope), and baffled as to how this could be happening leaves me wondering what is going on in households today. I have reared independent children, who are comfortable with other people, who love to sleep (chenille, lambies and big thread count sheets when they were young made them love their beds helped too)….all dying to go to school as soon as possible, leaving boring mom at home.

(I have a confession: I totally bailed on what I wanted to comment on: the young student caught posing in a bikini in front of a car she helped BUILD for the University of Waterloo Engineering team. Due to a conflict in my own house, I can’t comment… feel free to ask me my thoughts if you see me in the street.)

As an aside KIPPelora is gearing up to install our shed and clean up the pad down at Bissell Park so that the oven build can begin. Holy mommas this project makes my head want to explode.

In a good way of course… curious timing: I receive a daily cartoon from a guy named Hugh McCleod. He wrote a best selling book called Ignore Everybody, and more recently Evil Plans. His cartoon of today reads: “Success has that weird quality which makes it seem like child’s play after the fact and totally impossible before. His thoughts on this: Success is so captivating. It’s also very elusive. What makes someone successful? 
IQ, EQ, social standing, hard work, good timing, organizational skills, dogged determination, thoughtful delegation, or plain, old, luck?

There are a thousand possible answers and certainly no single one.
 But whatever they are, there is something that truly visionary entrepreneurs have: The ability to make it look easy. And it’s never easy. Ever.
 Until it is. Until it’s in the past tense.
 Funny how that works…” That perfectly sums up our community kitchen. Mind blowing tough to sort out how it’ll roll, but once its up and going, childs play. Easy peezy. For fun on Hugh goto

Teens n’ Drugs + How to Take a Bath (so you won’t stink)

The first half of this post was regarding the election, boring old news and just re-reading it stresses me out. Folks, 6 in 10 Canadians didn’t vote for the Conservatives. The system needs to change… but that is another column.

* * *
On another note, a group I have recently become in involved with is COPS (Community Police Board – if you will). Recognizing that the majority of crimes committed are from kids aged 16-25, a lot of crime has drug related roots.

Centre Wellington Youth are more than just dabbling in drug use nowadays. They will tell you that ‘it’ is everywhere. “IT” creates a cycle of crime, which, with two boys under age 12, I will tell you I didn’t really ever give much thought to; this particular cycle. But if you become hooked on a drug, then you need to pay for it, and perhaps stealing might be the way to fund your addiction? Who knows what people will do for a hit, but stealing is definitely something that certain merchants will tell you affects their business.

So what to do? Some advice from someone close to me going through this with their child is this: know your kids friends and if you have a bad feeling about someone you are probably right. Do not be afraid to punish your child, they think and know they have all the power in this day and age.

If they threaten to call the C.A.S on you – hand them the phone. OPP reminds me that you still have the right to physically punish or discipline your child, but don’t use excessive force. Things get a little fuzzy around the term excessive force, which can lead to a sense of hopelessness for parents how to manage their drug addicted child. Further, parents calling the OPP for assistance in managing the nightmare has put the state in the business of raising our children.

What I can tell you is the moms (and some grand-moms) of youth affected by drugs are running out of ideas on how to deal with the problem. Finally convincing your child to visit their physician is a hurdle most covet, however you quickly learn as concerned mom that what is said in the privacy of the doctors office, stays in the doctors office if your child is over the age of 13 and thus, we are cut out of the cycle to helping our kids. This is the same for social workers, counselors of any kind – ‘nope, can’t tell you the problem, but keep at it, you’re on the right track.’

Young girls don’t have to steal because once a dealer/boyfriend gets them hooked they will use their bodies to get their fix. Does this response want to make your head explode? It does mine. When I asked when on earth privacy laws changed, I was informed about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms founded in 1982.

The OPP have something to offer in their various frustrations on the same subject. For instance, if youth (or anyone for that matter) run away, a simple phone call attempting to locate the person at a hostel or even a hospital will render zero results. OPP asking a school if a child is there is also a challenge for them. Yes the school will call police to review police tapes of a kid writing graffiti all over the bathroom, but a similar request to see tapes to sort out a drug deal in same bathroom will also render zero results. Literally, the only time privacy laws can be broken down, is if the OPP are needed, and this is a sad one-way street that has been created by government.

This situation all round is not working for anyone so in the meantime, looking at what is causing the cycle and trying to do something about it, is what COPS is working on now. Educating our grade seven and eights in drug awareness is our plan and we are working on pitching the schools/ service clubs (to help finance) now to have teachers attend training for a program called High on Life which takes a holistic view combining the current curriculm on drug awareness with assertive training and goal setting. So far St. Mary’s School and Elora Public are on board (thank you Elora Lions, you rock boys n’ gals) (looking for all schools in CW).

As Maude Barlow says: Fighting for justice everyday is like taking a bath. If you don’t do it, you’ll stink.