I recently had this conversation with Reg, who I will absolutely admit is a wonderful husband and father, about Flannery, who is a lovely child made from equal parts sugar and spite, that really kind of sums up where I am on the whole parenting spectrum right now. Spoiler Alert!! Parenting changes as kids change and as you change. Huh. Yup, it's a dynamic process that sometimes makes you long for those halcyon days of absolute surety. I know for a fact there were things that I felt solid to my very bones about when we had Emerson and he was new and we were new. Those carved in stone ideas are some of the first things thrown out the window in a postpartum fit of sleep deprived, hormonal rage. Then the second kid comes along and parenting, for at least a short time, is cobbled together bits of survivalist nonsense. And I won't go on about having a third child (which I believe to be the gateway child) or more. You are asking for it when you move from man to man and into zone defense. But eventually parenting hits an even stride with the occasional speed bump. Of course, every once in a while, I realize that between the cobbling together and the even stride, maybe some lesson wasn't learned or this little phase needs some direction back to the norm or I just can't take it anymore.
The morning started as usual and I'm pretty sure it was Flannery's insistence on weather inappropriate footwear that sent me over the edge. It doesn't matter. Sometimes you have to dig in to win an argument on principle and possibly out of sheer antagonism. But mostly out of principle. So I told Flannery how she needed to change her shoes because sandals (even with socks on) are not going to keep her warm and dry in the winter rain that makes up anywhere from 4-6 months of Portland's year. Please notice that I told her what to change and WHY. Because she did not like my stance, she started on her melodramatic, Oh Woe is Me tirade of I don't have ANYTHING to wear and I don't like ANYTHING in my closet. There were tears and slamming doors and very passive aggressive yet strangely loud sighs from her room downstairs. And something in me snapped (which is also a very melodramatic way to put it since much of this scene happens on a pretty regular basis) and I got a glimpse of our teenage future. I turned to my dear husband and told him:
Listen to me closely. You are either with me or against me. It's time to choose sides and you had better choose wisely. The teenage years are coming. I think it will get worse before it gets better and you are going to want me in your corner. Think about how hard she'll fight for some teeny tiny mini skirt or if bare midriffs make a very unfortunate return. If she wins this one, she'll think we're weak on wardrobe battles. We need to nip this in the bud now. So, focus. I want you to go downstairs to talk to Flannery. And you had better back me up because if she comes upstairs with sandals and you claim it's a compromise, it is every man for himself. Look at me. I'm not kidding.
Maybe it wasn't my finest hour but it was a very honest communication between a husband and wife and that is something that I do feel makes for good parenting. Well, that and some good old fashioned spite.