funny with a soundtrack

18 Years a Slave

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Before we go any further, before you or I say anything on this matter, I’d like to make one thing perfectly clear.

I love my kids.

I am not complaining, or wishing for a life sans kids, or bad mouthing them, or trying to make those without kids feel bad by talking about things they’d love to experience. I’m sensitive, considerate folk. But understand the need to exercise my sense of humor on the subject. It’s part of my master plan to maintain some semblance of sanity. I am also not bad mouthing my spouse. I love him too. But I think we can all agree that we’ve had differences in opinion with our significant others on the subject of parenting.

Being a parent is one of the most wonderful, joyous, and fulfilling things one can experience, no doubt. But we’re raising a crop of kids with an ever increasing sense of entitlement that leaves me with a feeling of shock and awe.

If it were a movie, it would be titled 18 Years a Slave.

Is it the fault of the parents, as the Oompa Loompas would have us believe? Umm….partly. But I’ve found that no matter what you say or do, no matter how you try to  impart a certain set of values unto your offspring, they get outside stimulus from their meddling little friends, their smart ass Disney shows and the kid on the kindergarten bus with the cell phone, who tells your innocent five year old about what his older brother did with his girlfriend on the family couch. You get a pervasive snarkiness, a sarcasm and, in a society full of politically correct parenting, coupled with a toned down “kinder, gentler” approach by our, Gen X homies, in a direct reaction to the ass whoopings we received in our own youths…you get blurred lines in with respect to the parent/child directive.

For his part, my DH was raised to not lift a finger. His parents believed that he and his sister should enjoy their childhood, rather than be subjected to chores and duties. First of all, I would like to know why I couldn’t sign up for this program. I spent my post cartoon Saturdays picking the weeds from between the three thousand patio bricks in our back yard, dusting the living room, and vacuuming. My mother was a ball buster. She never took the white gloves off.

So our kids only do the occasional chores. I know. I hear the gasps. I’m right there with you.  Try as I might to expedite a chore assignment, you know how the Parental United Front thing works. When there isn’t one, everything goes to shit and I end up cleaning the cat box for the kid’s cat that he absolutely, positively had to have and promised on a stack of Halo comics he would keep clean.

Worse? When I try to enforce anything, I get that look of indignation from my beloved that says “You’re being a ball buster, like your mother, aren’t you?”

Oh hell no! That’s below the belt. You never play the “you’re just like your mother” card.

So you know what it comes down to? Text messages from the 14 yo asking for a glass of water when he’s on the second floor and we’re on the third. Repeated requests for fruit snacks from the 7 yo who could just as well go downstairs and get them himself, except he’s afraid to go alone – unless it’s to play XBox, which somehow renders him exempt from any Boogie Man retribution.

We get the 14yo taking some of his meals in his room, and either leaving the empty dishes there to attract an ant population, or they are left outside the door. We’ve taken to joking that Room 2B is finished with their tray.

You know how long that lasted? Too long. But I shall redeem myself by saying that I’ve used my Mom Voice enough times, coupled with the Hovering Over Him Maneuver, in order to affect change.

When did the tables turn here? When did our kids begin ordering our asses around, making us jump? I know I’m not alone. I read stuff. I watch Dr. Phil, for chrissakes. I’m not completely out of it.  I see it in the attitudes of the kids working retail and cash registers. “Oh, I think it’s over there on the shelf somewhere…”. Translation? “Get it yourself, bitch.”

What the fuck? I had my ass handed to me on a Corelle dinner plate if I didn’t do the parental bidding, and lickety split. There was no “So?” or “What are ya gonna do?” about it. If that thought so much as entered my mind, my clairvoyant maternal unit had a tightly fisted grip on a bar of Tone, to make me atone for my sins. Once, she used a bar of Lava after it had been used by my father to wash axl grease off his hands.  I attribute that to my love of brussels sprouts. Multiple taste buds were rubbed out that day.

Now it’s “I’d like you to pick up your clothes.” “In a minute. I’ll get killed if I leave the game now.”

Oh, I’ll tell you what’ll kill you more, kiddo. The Wrath Of Mom.

So, I clean the cat box, I do the dishes, I fold the clothes, I clean the house. I hang their coats, put away their shoes, take the rotting sandwiches out of their backpacks – on Monday morning after the weekend. I retrieve the half eaten bags of chips from under the bed.

I know. I’ve probably sentenced myself.  But what to do to free the slave? (me)

Do you differ in parenting style from your spouse? What do you expect of your kids? And have you noticed this new trend in smart ass/entitled behavior? I need your insights and advice before the next round of snacking begins.

Photo “Scream and Shout” by mdanys licensed by CC 2.0

18 Years a Slave for Pinterest

25 Comments

  1. March 6, 2014    

    It was the same story here, attitude wise. My almost 19 yr old finally realized what he could not get away with at mom’s house (whole different scene than at dad’s house) and then a few years later he got really bad again. How? Why? I’m going on 19 years, being called ‘strict’ the entire time! If I WERE strict he would at least still clean up after himself.

    • March 11, 2014    

      See, that would be hard. I’m over here complaining about differing opinions under one roof. I have to really hand it to parents trying to deal with dual custody and differing rules in more than one household. That can’t be easy and I applaud you for sticking to your guns. This is one of the reasons I love blogging so much. I get a perspective on life from so many different angles.

  2. March 6, 2014    

    Linda….are you watching my home on camera and reporting on it, pretending it’s you?? I would’ve hit *like* 10 times if I could have! This is SO MY LIFE! How many times have I said to my kids, “If I would’ve had that sassy attitude with your NaNa she would’ve slapped me!” (not really, but she would’ve wanted to)

    My kids will be NEXT to the pantry and still ask me to get their food. And every single time (EVERY. SINGLE. TIME) they disrobe, I have to remind them to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. You think this would’ve sunk in my now! Yes, I’m constantly cleaning empty water bottles and half-eaten chip bags from the game room, even though it is their responsibility to keep it clean. Sometimes I’m too damn tired to lecture them anymore. It’s easier to just pick it up my damn self, even though I realize I’m enabling.

    We’ve given them chores, but we’re not good about being consistent with them. UGH. I don’t want to raise a lazy, entitled son, but it’s a constant uphill battle! POWER TO THE MOTHA. I’ll need it. :)

    great post.

    • March 11, 2014    

      Aw man, Beth – did you find my spy cam on top of your refriger- oops! ;) There is so much more to deal with nowadays than when our parents were raising us.

  3. March 6, 2014    

    OMG Yesterday I grounded them for something and the only reason I know is I saw my text.

    • March 11, 2014    

      Make sure you put it on your calendar so the phone reminds you.

  4. March 6, 2014    

    Ugh, YES. My in-laws were pansies compared to my parents. You did NOT answer back, and you did NOT hesitate when asked to do something, and the chores? Yes, I know the chores. We’ve made some progress down the right road (according to me, that is) in our family, but I know that husband look, too. I’m the tough parent.
    My kids are still little, though. I’m not doing the trash clean-up, etc. though I have to remind every member of my family to take OFF their snowboots before leaving the entryway every.time. they enter the house. And we’ve been taking turns with a lovely little stomach bug around here, so you know the messes I’ve had lately. (But, thankfully, my husband does clean himself. :)). At least you’re not dealing with that?

    • March 11, 2014    

      No, my husband is pretty great about helping out with things around the house and he’s very hands on with the kids too. He’s just a lot more laid back than I am and sometimes we disagree on how to approach certain parenting situations.

  5. March 6, 2014    

    Oh, Linda…it gets worse. They leave home and then they come back! Gasp!
    My hubby was raised my a mom who did everything but wipe his ass. My parents made us do chores after school and on weekends. I’ll admit, by the time I left home I knew how to do just about anything so I wanted my boys to learn things, too. Here’s what I did: If you are are capable of operating a computer you are capable of doing your own laundry, rinsing your dishes and cleaning your room. If they didn’t put away their things, I took them into lockup. The shoes were a constant battle until I took them and they were faced with the horror of wearing their old ones. Chores were required to get each item back. You want both shoes? Two chores. Lawd, those were the good old days! “Where’s my jacket, Mom?” I give them a shrug and say it must be hanging in his closet, otherwise I have no idea. Of course, it was in lockup. I think I had a whole collection of jackets before it sunk in, but it did. Cold will do that. I know, I’m evil. But with three of them, we had to have order!
    They all learned to cook and now they cook for me since they moved back home! LOL
    On the other hand, they still conveniently forget to do things I ask them to do ten times. Since they ask me for more favors than I ask them, I started “forgetting” too. They got the message. I’m hopeful that when they marry- their wives won’t want to kill me.
    Hang in there!

    • March 11, 2014    

      Good advice Tina! I like that and I’m going to try it. That convenient memory loss thing happens here too. ;) I think their wives will thank us! I am making sure they know how to cook, and do things for a woman someday. My husband is really good about all of that. Even though his mom did everything for him, he knows how to cook and he does help out around the house. I think we’ll get there. I’m going to take a deep yoga breath and keep plugging away! Thanks, my friend! xo

  6. Jill's Gravatar Jill
    March 8, 2014    

    Yup, sounds exactly like my 17 year old son. I told him the dishwasher was broken and any any dishes he left in his room, he had to wash. Well, he ended up washing 10 plates, 5 bowls, 8 glasses, 3 mugs, and because he had used all the glasses, both of my measuring jugs! So it only took me 10 years to train him to load the dishwasher!
    He also uses his younger brother as his personal slave, but gets a new one ripped when his brother rats him out, Kinder Eggs make for great reports!

    • March 11, 2014    

      HaHa – Jill! That is so funny and I love it! And btw, my son does the same thing to his little brother, but finally my little guy has figured out how to leverage it for his own benefit. The little guys always exact their revenge, right? ;)

  7. March 9, 2014    

    Haha Linda, you wrote a magnificent post girl. I loved it. Having said that, there is no harm in having your children doing some chores. If they want respect they should also learn how to pay respect. I do not believe in parenting where the parent becomes or is a slave. It’s not like that in the real world. If they ever want children and a partner of their own, where will they find someone who will fit their bill because they will not have learned to get a no when they go too far. I am often amazed when I look at American parenting… I do not say that we need to raise our kids like we were raised. Both you and I had weird upbringings. But I do believe in rules, boundaries and limitations. Kids should be kids, that is under the parental unit, and parents should do what they are supposed to do: parent their kids. Which means learn the kids how the real world turns. You can not in later life tell your boss “wait a minute, I have to finish this level or I die”. Real life is that people are all around and if you have not learned good people skills from your parents you are in a very bad place.
    Where will all those “golden god children who rule the roost” find a partner? And if they do, it might be another “golden god child who ruled the roost” so who will cater on who?

    I wished I could come back within 20 years and see how all those “spoiled” children do in their adult life…
    Because let’s face it, they are spoiled…

    Why should mom and dad have to follow rules (DO NOT ENTER MY ROOM WHEN I AM ON X-BOX) if the kids don’t have to follow rules?

    Call me old fashioned but I am convinced that common sense is the way to go. Kids do not have to make choices before they are ripe to do so. And they are not to decide what their parents should do unless those parents asked for their advice in the matter.

    Parents in the world: your kids are not made of water. They will not melt or fume up if you say no or make them help in the house. And there’s a difference between slave labor and doing the dishes.

    The only thing I do want to say to you Linda is that you have to stop catering to them… Cater on occasion, when they deserve it, but parents need some respect and loving too, so eating in the room is from today on no longer allowed. We sit in the kitchen for dinner, like a decent family, all four of us around the table. If you don’t like it tough, that’s how it is done in MY house. You can eat in your room when you left our house and live with your partner… And let’s see if she or he will like it… And if the little one can get to where he wants to play without you, he can get there for a drink also. For god sakes… grin.

    Sorry, I got on my soap box… lol

  8. March 11, 2014    

    Hi Cat! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the compliment. I appreciate your advice, my friend, but you know, although there is a shred of truth in the piece, this is ultimately a humor blog, and I do take some creative license with it for comic effect. Nobody here is a slave and Max & Miles are great kids. I think you know that, since you’ve met them. :)

    What you may have missed is that Kevin is more laid back than I am, so our differing parenting styles are sometimes a point of contention. I don’t think it’s a problem exclusive to us – I think a lot of couples struggle with it. And I also think we’re raising kids at a really tricky time – dare I say, much trickier than 20 or so years ago. There are a lot of outside and technological influences today that didn’t exist when we were kids and as much as some parents try to control everything their kids are exposed to, eventually they get out into the world and they’re influenced by others to a certain degree. If we’ve done our job, we’ll have a bigger impact than their friends, but some rebellion is a normal part of growing up. My kids are not spoiled and they’ll be well equipped to thrive in the world, find partners, jobs, have kids. I’m not concerned about that. They’re both smart and you know, kids often show the world a far better side than they show us at home.

    I think structure, guidelines, rules and consequences are important, but the “my way or the highway” approach is to me, a little too simplistic and I don’t think scaring them into submission is the answer either.

    As for my childhood, yes, it was weird, but I wouldn’t say that my mother should never have had children. She did the best she could as a single mother who was raised by a single mother who was a less than stellar parental role model.

    And finally, I’ll bet there are European kids who are little assholes too. I don’t think it’s exclusive to America and I’m kind of surprised by the sweeping generalization.

    All in all though – this piece is meant to be funny and to open up a dialogue that sheds some light and perspective on parenting in today’s world and I thank you for participating in it. xoxo

    • March 12, 2014    

      Grin, of course I know that. No slaves in your house. Your boys are wonderful. And so are you and Kevin. And I know it is a humor blog, albeit with a lot of truth and common sense in it. It is so well written, and very recognizable…

      I did read that you and Kevin have different parenting styles, and I think this can be an asset. I am convinced that it’s good for kids to have a stricter and a more laid back parent. As long as both parents are not pushed and stuck in those rolls. It’s not nice if the one parent always has to be the boo monster and the other one the play and fun one. In a way, as a single mom, I often thought myself as lucky as my husband and myself split up, and hubby left and never looked back, so I could be whatever I wanted to be, strict or not, even if at times it sucked to be a lone parent. Kids need both, a mother and father. A mother can not be a father and vice versa, and that’s good. We don’t NEED to be what we are not.

      Maybe I hit the send button a bit too soon (must sound familiar) and have reread a couple of times what I wrote. Because I have the highest esteem for you and Kevin, and the way you deal with the boys and what life gives you. Not always easy.

      I also agree that raising kids nowadays is a lot harder then before. There are more worldly influences and possibilities, and I find that a lot of parents are confused. We had general child raising rules and we did not worry so much about how our kids were going to turn out. Kids were kids and parents were parents. Now parents have to struggle with so many images of parenthood, and I do think that the pressure is on.

      I do not doubt for a moment that your kids will not turn out great. I am just convinced that so many different parenting methods are available now, and it only makes the confusion bigger. I find that parents often do not get guidance enough and are made aware that they in the first place know what is best for their child. I see a lot of struggling parents around me, americans, brits, european.

      I wonder if present day parents forget that nobody is perfect. There are no perfect parents and no perfect children, but it’s in humanity for kids to love their parents, even if the parents make mistakes. And who will define what “mistake” holds?

      I am certainly not saying that my way or the highway is the only way. What I do keep saying is that parents are in the end the parents, and if it comes down to veto, there are times that the parents should have that veto. Why? Because they are the parents. It comes with the territory. I do not believe that children benefit from having to set their own boundaries. A two year old should only have to make decisions about what cars or dolls he or she wants to play with. Make children’s choices age appropriate. And some children had more things going on in their life then others, so they are more mature.

      Scaring kids into submission is certainly not the answer, and I am sorry if I gave that impression.

      In the end it all comes down to get a working relationship between parents and kids that make life in the house agreable for all.

      And yes, there sure are european kids that are little assholes. Sorry again if I gave the impression that only american kids are bad. Britain for instance has a big problem with binge drinking, youngsters going out in the weekend, get drunk, often ending up in hospital in the dialysis department with alcohol poisoning. I am talking 13 and 14 year olds.

      Last weekend in Belgium a car crash happened with 7 teens dead. Seven youngsters (the oldest 21 if I am correct) in a car, speeding, hitting a truck, the car burst out in flames and the seven youngsters all burned to death. On top of it all Belgian law says that only five people can be in a car. My question is why parents let their youngsters go out and get drunk under the age of 15…
      My own son had a period in his life that I had a very hard time controlling him. In the end he turned out ok because he got a girlfriend who could control him and find the way to his heart. So I am not the all knowing person who knows all the exact knowledge about parenting. I made many mistakes… But being strict was not one of them. I was strict (too strict seen in hinsight) but that was how I roll. I love kids and animals, but they have to have respect for others. In fact, if you ask children, they will often say that they wished that parents had more rules en guidance, because it makes life easier in the long run.

      “All in all though – this piece is meant to be funny and to open up a dialogue that sheds some light and perspective on parenting in today’s world and I thank you for participating in it. xoxo”

      I got that Linda, and I know that I often am seen as too oldfashioned and strict when it comes to ideas about parenting. It just bothers me and it’s hurtful to see how young parents try to do their very very best and sacrifice everything for their children, yet they do not get a lot back from those same children. I do believe that kids need to learn how to be respectful, and I think it is best if they can learn that by example from their parents. And no, I do not believe in anti-autoritary upbringing because it does not work. It was the big next thing to do in the seventies, as a reaction on strict parenting in previous decades, children did not do well when they had to make their own choices.

      I wished we could all have learned how to parent in a way that works for us, listening to our heart and gut, resulting in wise kids growing up to wise adults who in their turn will have wise kids again.

      Parenting theories are just that: theories. And often they do not fit real life people because they have no ground in real life situations.

      Do let me know if I need to bud out of this exchange of food for thought. Grin. After all, I don’t have kids in the house anymore, and mine were raised 30 years ago, so what do I know… You can tell me if my talk is nonsense… and my plea for common sense way too alien… ;o)))

  9. October 7, 2014    

    The only thing my son (16) has to do is clean up after himself. Do his own laundry, OCCASIONALLY cut the grass and take the garbage out once a week. It boils down to very few minutes a day. Yet it’s a constant struggle.

    I weep to think about the squalid conditions he will be willing to live in when he grows up and moves out.

  10. October 7, 2014    

    I’m the gal who intentionally tried to raise mama’s boys – ie make myself their bitch. so i get this. i’m a since reformed but it’s hard to retrain. it’s always a frustrating effort that is easier accomplished myself. i walk the line with ya. and is DH, damn husband? haha

  11. October 7, 2014    

    Gosh, I read the comments and felt sorry for so many women who seemed to have struggled with this. I had no idea I was so “lucky.” My kids are grown and gone and raising their own families and I am watching them parent with incredible pride. Since the time my children were able to understand, they were responsible for their own things and for their part of the family chores. It was never a ‘struggle’ as they knew what was expected of them and that was that. When my daughter had her first child, I told my son-in-law that I imagined he would have a full-time job by the time he was three. I said this because I saw how they were parenting and I was right. At two, he had many chores and his attitude was “What can I do to help?” or “I can do that, let ME do that.” He has maintained that attitude and his parents are the same way.

    When I visit my daughter, I am treated like a queen. She won’t “allow” me to do anything and pampers me so I guess I did something right?

    I don’t know how to explain it except that I have always expected my kids to carry their share of the load and I didn’t have to threaten or bribe. It started when they were very young. Sure made life a lot less stressful

  12. dltolley's Gravatar dltolley
    October 7, 2014    

    All Dad had to do was give my ‘that’ look. Yikes. We NEVER talked back. It pretty much carried on into the next generation. Except when it didn’t. Then I’d sigh in despair and curse my children with the most horrifying thing I could invent. “I’ hope you have children JUST LIKE YOU!!!” Heehee! It worked.

  13. Liz's Gravatar Liz
    October 7, 2014    

    Ugh, and I thought a 4yo was bad. At least she still responds to punishment. Your story about the requests from the 2nd floor though reminded me of my father-in-law, from the generation where entitlement worked the other way, as it should. When my husband was a kid, and this was in the days before TV remotes, his dad used to call him downstairs to change the channel for him so he wouldn’t have to get up. Haha.

  14. October 7, 2014    

    we have all been there at one time or another. The PC world is pretty jacked up sometimes. Some kids need a swat on the ass, some respond to the time out thing. hang in there, once they move out and get a little older they most likely will say “I should have listened to you more”. Plus, they will eventually have their own kids and Karma is a bitch.

  15. jaws4242's Gravatar jaws4242
    October 7, 2014    

    Your description of doing chores as a kid was great. My parents were somewhere in the middle ground, but I do recall snapping green beans through 2 entire watchings of ‘Darby O’Gill and theLittle People’/ That is some tough love. My kids are 3 and 4, so any chores will just make life worse for me, but my husband is all for chore charts and jobs with pay vs. auto allowances, so I;ll let him handle it!

  16. October 7, 2014    

    We started ours young with chores! Every Sunday they have Laundrypalooza and have to fold and put away all their clean laundry. The second we started that, the problem of my boys wearing one item for five minutes and then throwing it in the hamper disappeared!

  17. October 7, 2014    

    I’m right there with you. My son once told a fellow Marine, these C.O.’s don’t have shit on my mom! She could give them lessons! Hubby refused to have anything to do with discipline hell I love him dearly but they had the same mentality most of the time. So mom was the hard ass and dad was the candy ass. My daughter made it clear today as a matter of fact. My husband was making faces behind my back as I lecture her about driving safely. (He’s 46, she’s 22 and is married). She said shut up, you monkey faced jerk. She was talking to her dad, I thought she was talking to me. She got the one eye ball arch. She realizes instantly what I think (this person who still spells hell in front of me, who is also pregnant with twins. She started laughing and quickly let me know she was talking to her dad, definitely not me. As the hubby walks away laughing. He’s the one who needs military school!

  18. Julie's Gravatar Julie
    October 8, 2014    

    Hi Linda! I saw this on the Mamapedia feed, even though I have seen you around and I know I have followed you home before, I am not sure if I have shared (or just stalked- you know- in a good way) It is funny how we are all basically the same, yet our experiences can differ so. I was basically on my own with my 2 in 1998. That’s when Mr. Wonderful moved out. The kids were 7 and 5. Thank God for my parents, I don’t know what I would have done without them. I didn’t really have “chores” to do, as my mom also didn’t want to push growing up. I have done the same with my children. You are only a child once, you don’t get to go back. Be a child while you can, you have the rest of your life to be an adult. My son once asked for allowance. He would do things around the house to earn money. My answer? “no, you do things around the house because you live here” It isn’t like he didn’t have money to do the things he wanted, and maybe I should have allowed him the privilege of earning his money, but really? I don’t get paid to make dinner or do dishes.. I didn’t want that to be the lesson learned. They have watched me work, quite often 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet, to keep our lives stable. They have watched me cut grass, take out garbage, and shovel snow. These are things that need to be done. As my girl got old enough she has taken on a lot of the ‘chores’ to help out. Since my son has been away at school he has realized that the garbage doesn’t take itself out. His roommates apparently don’t consistently either. So there is a little more appreciation and help from him when he is home. Maybe I was lucky, but mine get it. (for the most part) I guess it also helps that I don’t run the tightest ship on the sea either…..

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Hi! I'm Linda Roy. My nickname is elleroy. I'm a humorist, musician, writer, mom, and the female Larry David. I'll criticize your parallel parking to prove it. I write about where I've been, what I'm doing and where I'm going. If anybody asks, tell 'em "elleroy was here".

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