A few days ago, while driving down my street I noticed a Little Tikes kitchen at the edge of my neighbor’s driveway along with the sign “Free Stuff”. At first my genetic disposition was telling me to place it in my trunk because a) it’s “free and b) I may have grandchildren some day and it’s free. Then I remembered how I couldn’t wait to get that crap out of my house after my kids were grown and second, when and if I have grandchildren, they will likely poo poo a plastic non-recyclable kitchen and admonish me for such waste.
Oddly, seeing that plastic get up on the side of the road made me ponder my early years with my kids. Remember the days when you couldn’t purchase a Barbie because she wasn’t anatomically correct and a toy gun meant your son would become the next Attila the Hun?
Instead I opted for the artificial kitchen and tool bench (before I knew there was such a thing as BAPA) and the Rosie O’Donnell Barbie, sealed and approved by the LGBTA. Those were the days when I was the master of the TV Domain, Barney, Tinky Winky (Jerry Falwell’s fav tubby) and Thomas the Tank Engine graced our home. Meals were home cooked with butter, gluten and pesticide laced produce and I introduced healthy snacks like “ants on a log” (aka celery with peanut butter and raisins) and homemade pizzas with veggies arranged in a smiley face.
So what did this all mean? None of my kids are, nor will they become, professional cooks, contractors or talk show hosts and their sexual identity has nothing to do with disrobing Ken and Barbie. Their television taste still includes fictional cartoon characters, from Family Guy’s best friend, Brian the Dog to that crass South Park kid, Cartman and our favorite father figure, Stan of American Dad. Their food palette has since expanded exploring international fare, burritos, pizza and sushi prepared with care at the local food court.
What was it that I was trying to control? I could set the rules and try to enforce them. I could impart my wisdom and try to encourage them to adhere to my philosophy. I did my best to keep them safe, to control their environment and yet part of being a parent is the understanding that eventually they will form their own tastes and their own opinions.
As I look at my four children now, I recognize that each of them having lived under the same roof will all have been reared by a “different parent”. Their perspective will waiver from my own and their siblings and they in turn will impart their own wisdom on their children.
What I do know is that I did, and continue to do the best that I could given the circumstances and that parenting never ends. I can recall the moment when my mother, after having lost both her parents remarked, “I am no longer a child”. Perhaps that is when we truly become adults.
For now, despite the fact that we are “Better After 50” our children will always be just that, children, no matter what age and they’ll remind me that I should never have thrown away the Kitchen, Barbies and Tinky Winky’s handbag. I will of course chalk that up to longing for their childhood and sentimentality and they’ll be selling it on next season’s “Pawn Stars”!