Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for the Expectation of Behavior

The husband was out of town and, as a special treat, I took the children out to dinner. A real dinner, not one that we place a phone call to order, or stay in the car to pick it up. Our sit down in a restaurant family meals are few and far between, a result of overall financial belt tightening, and the fact that Henry is kind of an asshole in restaurants. But he's been getting better, and I decided we'd pop over to the fish place around 5:30, when service should be quick and we'd only have to contend with the early bird seniors.

My children are especially fond of old people ('Thier skin is so soft and crinkly!', says Julia. 'They're just so cute!', says Katie), and the feeling is mutual. My kids can flat charm the polyester pants off a senior citizen.

I was hoping for a quick, decent experience. I was certainly not expecting what happened.

My children were perfect. Half a dozen old people stopped to coo at them. Henry made his cute face and the girls demurely batted their eyelashes. Even our waiter, a charming young man, commented on what a lovely family I had.

It was so nice, so sweet, and so pleasant, that I about broke my arm patting myself on the back.

I am a marshmallow parent. I overthink how I respond to them, I rationalize, I loathe to punish. We have rules, and expectations of behavior, and sometimes they meet them and sometimes they don't. I will always try something gentle before dropping the hammer, unless I am having a CRAZY DAY. Yet, so far, we have managed to raise mostly well behaved children. At least according to the people at the fish place.

Wait until they're teenagers. Boys are different. Just you wait. Maybe. Maybe I'm foolish to think that being a gooey centered parent is going to work. Maybe it's silly to think that if I expect them to be great kids, they'll be great kids. Maybe I'll revisit this post in a few years and want to punch myself in the face. Or maybe they'll continue to surprise me with just how great they can be. Today, I'm counting on the strength of the opinions of old people and waiters. Today, don't burst my bubble.

(Note: This was not my "E" post. My E post was very hilarious, and very lost while I was trying to navigate the new Blogger interface. This post was a draft from several months ago, which I never posted because I didn't like it. So you can blame Blogger. I am.)


  1. great post (again). I also hate new blogger, so I hope you are able to find your other post too!


  2. Kismet, I've been working on a piece that I had forgotten and discovered only a few days ago. I started writing it a while back, when Amy Chua stirred up the hornet's nest with "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom".

    I like your post kids are similar in that they surprise me with their wonderful behavior in public and around adults (usually).

    I laughed heartily when you described how your kids think that old people's skin is soft and crinkly ...and they are so cute. I never thought of it that way. LOL

    Thanks Kelly ;-)

  3. I was already a little paranoid about the changes to Blogger (they haven't happened over at my place yet), now I'm utterly terrified.

    But, on a brighter note--this is a fine, fine post. And that whole marshmallowy parent thing has worked out pretty well at our house--and my youngest is two months shy of eighteen--for what that's worth. ;)