I have a friend who is one of those always-kind-never-loses-her-temper sort of moms.
Beth Falkenstein: She's like someone out of a 50s TV show, or a Dick and Jane book ... only she's in color and has a great sense of humor. Her house is within walking distance to her daughter's school, and in the afternoons is frequently overrun with other kids who feel comfortable enough to snack on all the food in her refrigerator, because she's kind of like their mom too, until Real Mom or Carpool Mom picks them up. If someone were to make a movie about her, they would have to get clearance from Disney.
I think I just might be her polar opposite, especially when I ban my kids from watching "The Office" for a month after a bad report card or ground them for losing their new jazz shoes. I've always been a strict believer in rules, emphasis on "strict" and "rules." And patience is not always my strong suit. But, Disney has copyrighted a few of my characteristics as well ... poison apple, anyone?
Of course, I exaggerate. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm Joan Crawford, it's just that I'm certain everyone else is Donna Reed.
So it was a pleasant surprise a few months ago to learn that "Donna" had forbidden her daughter to attend the very same party I had forbidden my daughter to attend. And for very similar transgressions!
"You mean you're actually punishing her?" I asked, as her daughter sulked on the sofa next to my sulking daughter.
"Yes," "Donna" replied. "What did you think I would do?"
"Bake her brownies and ask her nicely to consider the ramifications of her behavior?" I offered.
"That would be fine, if I believed she could understand words like 'ramification,'" my friend sneered, her voice dripping with a sarcasm aimed at her teenaged daughter that bordered on nasty. The cold stare her daughter turned on her was just frosting on my You-Mean-It's-Not-Just-Me? cake. My heart leaped to see that such expressions of filial resentment actually existed outside of my household.
And just like that, I realized that we all have our moments when Dr. Spock goes out the window and Cruella de Ville flies in. I may lose my temper more often than my friend, but that doesn't mean she never does. It just means I'm not always there to see it, so I should stop comparing my parenting skills to hers.
Now, the fact that she has much better hair than I do is another matter ...
|Beth Falkenstein was a sitcom writer and freelance contributor to "Self," "Redbook," and "YM" magazines before taking a full time job in her kitchen. She loves her new bosses (ages 13 and 10), and is grateful that they approve of inter-office romance, because Beth thinks her co-worker (Jim, age 45) is really hot.|