I don’t particularly care if you like how I dress or think my hair is ridiculous or you hate my lack of religion. It doesn’t bother me if you think I’m bossy or that my love of Cool Whip repulses you. And yet, I seem to care what you think of me as a parent.
See, my son loves video games. He enjoys Minecraft and Lego Star Wars…and Halo. Let me say that Halo is not a game I think a 7 1/2 year old should be playing. My husband and I got into quite a “discussion” about this. I wasn’t happy *at all* and yet I relented. Why? you may ask. Why allow your kid to play a game that is geared towards teens and adults and involves lots of shooting of guns of every size imaginable? I’ll tell you why. Because I’m a co-parent and I must pick my battles. (Co-parenting is a subject that needs its very own blog post, so I’ll skip that for now.) But my son also got in on the discussion. He gave me reasons why he thought the game would be ok to play (“we’re shooting bad aliens, Mom, *not* people”) and he assured me that he would never shoot anyone for real. (This has always been my fear, that my son will be that guy at the top of the clock tower, picking off people for amusement.)
Once we established that my boy could play this video game, I told him not to tell anyone at school. I knew he had at least one friend that played Halo, too, and the kids often pretend to play it on the playground acting out the parts of the game, yet I didn’t want any teacher or parent to know that I had allowed my child to play this shooting game that I knew *they* wouldn’t approve of.
Why the hell do I care? Is it because I don’t want these people to think badly of me or that I’m a bad parent? Maybe. Originally I thought it was because this video game isn’t something I would have allowed him to play if I were the only parent…but you know what? As a family, we all watch The Big Bang Theory together and I told him not to tell anyone about that either. Honestly, I think some of the show is highly inappropriate for him to watch or hear, yet we all laugh hysterically and much of it is going right over his head. He’ll ask questions occasionally, and very often I tell him that we’ll talk about it when he’s older. But is it any worse than watching M*A*S*H* or Three’s Company with our parents when we were little? I don’t think so.
Maybe, in all truth, I care what you think because I want to be a good parent and I’m not always one. Sometimes I don’t make my kid brush his teeth at night or change his socks and tonight we had cereal for supper.
And yet…if all of what I’ve done (or not done) and the fact that my child plays too many video games and watches questionable sitcoms with his family makes me a bad parent, then what about everything else? What about the fact my son loves to read out loud “with expression” (his words) or that he gives someone a compliment every single day because he wants to or the fact that his vocabulary is better than some adults I know?
Or what about this? The fact that I love him more than any human being that ever existed or ever will—and he knows it.
Maybe that’s really what a good parent does–letting your kid know you love them, and that you’re doing the best that you can.
And maybe not give them cereal every night. Seriously, I need to do better on that one.