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Thursday, January 06, 2011


Thursday, January 06, 2011 By

Emerson has spent a lot of time at her grandparents' homes this holiday season, and it won't happen again; I missed her too much! No, I'm kidding. She can go back (I'll just go with her so I won't wander around the house, aimlessly flapping my arms and wondering who'll play Uno with me).

She has a wonderful time with them because her grandmothers never tells her no and she can have all the crap food she wants - as grandparents are supposed to do. But it causes some small issues...

"Mama, can I hab a treat?"

"No, sweetie. You just had a treat at McDonald's with your grandparents."

"BUT, Moooooommmm!" she whines, winding up for a fit by flailing her arms and marching her feet.

I lean into her face: "Oh, I don't think so, young lady. Now, you've had a wonderful time at your grandparents, and I'm very happy about that. You are very lucky to have grandparents who love you so much. But just because they never tell you no doesn't mean you can expect that at home. Mommy's job is to tell you no when there is a rule, because the rules are here for good reason."

Her mouth snapped shut, and her eyes dropped. "Yes, ma'am."

I dropped into a squat in front of her and rubbed her back. "Hey..."

She looked up at me with big, sad, puppy dog eyes: "Mama, you hurt my feelings."

"Remember that mommy and daddy make the rules here, okay, darling? And they don't change. You may not have a treat because treats are full of sugar. They are unhealthy to have too frequently, and they help cause cavities."

She nods sadly, and we hug and "mooch." Then she is distracted by toys and all is right again.

When Emmie was first born, I had this deranged idea that parenting was a family thing; that whatever rules Scott and I made in our home for our daughter should thusly be carried out by the rest of the family. And everyone indulged me - for about a year. Then they stopped with the charade and did whatever the heck they wanted to.

I've slowly come to realize that their job is to spoil her. My job is to keep her in line. And it doesn't have to be a battle. It can be a benefit. She gets to experience a kind of vacation when she's with them. Their lenience builds a relationship on mutual enjoyment, rather than structure and security and constant worry for her future. And while she's with them, I know she's happy, having fun, and enjoying the social and emotional benefits of a multigenerational influence.

But I'm going to send an extra toothbrush with her next time, just in case.


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