When I was newly married, childless, and in my early-20s, I had lots of time to come up with glittery ideas about what parenting would be like. I imagined frolicking through farmers markets every Saturday morning with my children munching on turnips happily zipping from vendor to vendor searching for the perfect head of broccoli.
But then I became a parent.
The first time we took our son to a farmers market, he stole some broccoli from a vendor, popped it in his mouth, promptly spat it out right in front of the vendor, and yelled “Nasty!” My glittery parenting ideas were crushed by reality. And now, instead of dreaming of how things will be, I find myself making a list of of things that I will absolutely not freaking do for my kids.
1. Pay full price for brand name clothes.
I simply do not give two farts about brand names, and I refuse to pay full price for an item simply because it has the phrase Under Armour plastered across it. My parents operated with a similar mindset, and I did not die. In fact, I wasn’t even resentful toward them for it. It helped me develop my Honey Badger mindset and allowed me to resist the mainstream and be more free-thinking. If I find a name brand item on clearance or at a discount store for a decent price, then I may buy it if it’s something my kids need (I’m not totally heartless).
2. Join the PTA.
To all of you PTA moms out there: Keep rockin’ it and doing what you do; I admire your gumption. I cannot work, write, mother, wife, and then drag myself to PTA to plan fundraisers for the school. I will gladly attend your event, and I will purchase (and eat) the cookie dough, but I will not be on your committees.
3. Let my kids do every activity they want to do.
No freaking way am I going to fill my schedule running children to a different activity each night. I am just not wired to be able to handle this. If we don’t have at least two free weeknights, I turn into an absolute nightmare who runs around raging about missing jerseys and all the vegetables that still need to be cut up, so I cap my kids’ activities. They can only do one activity at a time. I want to teach them how to prioritize at an early age so they can develop healthy habits that will carry over into their teen years. I want them to know that they don’t have to do everything and be everything for everyone. And full disclosure: My kids will not be the next star athlete/dancer/singer/Nobel Prize winner, so traveling teams and competitions in other towns are simply unnecessary.
4. Expect my kids to earn straight As.
Before becoming a mother, I taught high school English for seven years. I encountered many students who fell apart in sobs because they earned a B on an essay. Despite having done their best work and earning what most would see as an honorable grade, it wasn’t good enough for their parents, so it wasn’t good enough for them. I will expect my kids my to put forth their best effort in their academics. If that means they earn Ds on everything, then so be it. Grades in school are not an indication of a child’s success or failure.
5. Expect my kids to attend college.
My husband and I have earned four college degrees between the two of us, but contrary to popular belief, I don’t think a college degree is the right path for every person. Our kids know that certain jobs require a postsecondary education. They definitely have an awareness of college, what it is, and why a person might need it. But when the time comes for my kids to decide what to do after high school, I want them to feel equipped to choose a next step (work, college, traveling, etc.) that would prepare them for the kind of life they want to live—not the kind of life I want for them.
Each parent has a responsibility to provide for and try and do right by his/her kid(s). Sometimes this means making tough decisions that seem to conflict with the mainstream culture. It’s acceptable to have a list of things that we absolutely won’t freaking do for our kid(s) because it gives us boundaries in the uncharted territory of parenting and (hopefully) prevents our kids from becoming total assholes. The list can always be revised as our kids mature and change. Parents: Go ahead and put your foot down every now and then. Your kids won’t die if they have shoes from Target or aren’t on the traveling soccer team this summer.