You know it’s bad news when the daycare center calls you within 2 hours of dropping off the kids. It’s pink-eye. Oh, is that why the eye was fused shut last night when I tried to roll Micah over at midnight….and then again this morning? Well, it didn’t look pink to me!.
So, it was an unexpected day off of work with the eldest son. We went to the doctor’s office and walked out with a couple prescriptions. I told Micah that we could get some popcorn and an Icee at Target when we got his medications filled. He turned to me with sparkling eyes (one red, of course) and said “you’re a good Mommy.”
I smiled – the promise of a treat makes me a good Mommy in his eyes. And we did have a nice afternoon. I bought him his first pair of cleats for flag-football. I treated him to an Icee and pizza. And, since it was his “special day” as he soon designated it, we wandered around the pet store for awhile too.
I thought about how Micah calls me the “good Mommy” when I’m treating him – or providing that “special day” for him when he gets to have a say about what we do (“let’s go to the playground”…. “let’s play basketball”….). But more often, I am the “bad Mommy” – the one who enforces the rules. The one who tells him to stop yelling in the house and to settle down. The one who makes him return to the bathroom over and over to brush his teeth or wash his hands. The one who demands that he uses “please” and “thank you” in his conversations, and now we are working on “excuse me.”
The “good” and the “bad” depend greatly on one’s perspective, of course. I’ve been thinking about this in the nation’s educational system as well. I recently heard a news report about the “dumbing down” of our education all the way through college. Teachers are becoming more concerned with teaching to the tests than with actually teaching the students. College professors who seek tenure only reach that goal if they receive good evaluations from students. So, they begin to water down their expectations so that the students like them and give them higher satisfaction ratings on evaluations. This is great in the short-term – the students are happy and the professors get promoted. But this type of “good” teaching gets us nowhere in the long-run. Now we are graduating generations of students who have less knowledge than previously – and definitely less independent critical thinking skills. We are graduating students who have not been asked to work hard, who are not held responsible, and who feel entitled to an easy life.
So, it seems to me – if I am actually going to be a “good Mommy” in teaching my boys – a large percentage of the time, I will actually be a “bad Mommy” and will maintain that high level of expectation so that one day they will be strong, determined, independent, and thoughtful adults. And I will be so proud of them. So watch out boys – tomorrow it’s “bad” Mommy all over again.