My children would never watch television.
Perhaps an educational show here and there when at a friend’s house or maybe Sesame Street or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. In my defense, we don’t have cable. We do have YouTube and Netflix and so, television is a necessary evil in our household. How else would I clean up or be lazy myself?
My children would never have a video game system.
Not in my house. My cousins had an Atari, and that was good enough for me and would be fine for my children, too. Well, the Wii came first, a gift from grandparents though I suggested it. The Xbox arrived this year as a gift from Santa. Yes, I blamed Santa so my children would not know I was a total wimp and liar. Upon hearing Blair tell her church friend, “I got kilt by a cop,” I reconsidered my decision of exposure to Grand Theft Auto. Too late.
My children would never be allowed to have toy guns in my house.
How was I to know I would have a son like Russell who came out of the womb with his thumb and index finger in shooting stance? Long before I conceded the the impressive arsenal we have today, he could make any household or yard item into a useful weapon, odd-shaped stick, paintbrush, paper towel roll. You name it. It particularly undid our very kind proper babysitter we had at that time. Now we are swarming with teenagers glued to their phones and upgraded to civil war mock weapons and impressive rapid shooting Nerf guns.
My children would play with gender-neutral toys — my sons with dolls and my daughters would play with cars.
I took this job very serious as I was a graduate of a women’s college and one of my favorite professors had a hyphenated last name,. He and his wife had both combined their last names. My first two sons were provided baby dolls, kitchen sets, as well as cars and trains. The first son never gravitated to any toy item as a little person as he seemed mainly attached to me. The next son was car and train obsessed. Indeed, he would push his small pink jogging stroller loaded down with his matchbox cars, and around the neighborhood we would venture.
My children would try unusual foods and, of course, I would make my own baby food from my own garden.
Again, I was perfect in my mind — even when my first son was the only child. I remember our family of three all enjoying salads, pork tenderloin, roasted veggies. You get the gist. My garden was planted, and we had a ton of squash, lettuce, zucchini and watermelons. Two problems, one being I had no idea you should pick the squash while it was still liftable. Two, weeding was not on my priority list and so, the garden lasted one season.
My children would be read to every evening at bedtime.
How could I refuse to read at bedtime? An expert in early childhood education and I’m here to tell you the whole reading at bedtime is a big farce. Reading itself is important, but the time of day does not matter one bit. I have been known to read a big pile of books on a rainy afternoon. Maybe once. Who has the energy to read every single night? It feels like the same rule about exercising every day. It makes me want to totally abstain so I go by the rule of often, sometimes or occasionally.
My children would be disciplined positively with natural and logical consequences.
I remember the first time I told them to SHUT UP. It was not by accident, however one may want to take that. No, I deliberately chose my words carefully and spoke them calmly and clearly. We were in to the third hour of our car trip, and a howling toddler and fighting siblings had gobbled up my last nerve. I recently discovered hot sauce and was suitably impressed and even a bit frightened by the results it brought. Inappropriate perhaps.
My children would be dressed neatly in knee socks and saddle shoes, their faces shiny clean.
My children used to look nice. My oldest resembled Little Lord Fauntleroy in appearance, facial features and dress. He was downright pretty. Before I knew it, he was wrapped up in athletic shorts and neon hoodies. Oh well, at least his younger sister has the exact same taste so she can shuffle around in too-big hand-me-downs. Now in relation to the filth, I didn’t know the bottoms of feet could turn so black from just a few hours outside especially after few sips in the pool. Giving baths past 7 p.m. is right up there with reading and so, I glance and ignore the black feet climbing in the not-so-clean sheets.
My children would only taste breast milk their first six months of life.
That was my plan until I dumped an entire bottle of breast milk on the floor in our basement den at our first house. I had pumped and was going to pour the milk into my new Playtex bottle, the one that you are supposed to put the liner in first. Well, a tired first-time mother remembered the liner as she poured the liquid gold all over the arm chair and tile floor where my husband held our week-old son. I cried and cried and then in a necessary showing of defeat, found the tin of free formula powder and fixed a bottle. He lived and I learned.
My children would always be properly supervised.
Who plans to leave their son at a restaurant on a bathroom break? Not me, but I did. Two miles down the road in an unfamiliar town on a major highway and I remembered. There goes my plan of my conscious plan for hands-off parenting though under close supervision. Too late.
— Adrian H. Wood
Adrian H. Wood, Ph.D., is a rural Eastern North Carolina mother of four, one with extra special needs. She’s a past preschool teacher, nanny, children’s ski instructor, early interventionist, college professor, early childhood researcher, wife and full-time mama. She began writing in 2016 after a 20-year hiatus and blogs at Tales of an Educated Debutante, where satire meets truth, faith meets irony, despair meets joy and this educated debutante escapes the laundry and finds true meaning in graceful transparency.