We all know we’re really supposed to be the boss of our children, but in this era of “helicopter parents” and overscheduled, pampered and prima donna children, are you truly running the show? I’m not sure that we have truly staked out what the roles and responsibilities are for parents versus children. And while I advocate giving performance reviews for your family (like we give and get in the work world), that can be pretty tough if you’re truly not in charge. Take this short quiz to find out who is the boss in your house:
1. When your 12-year-old child has a hockey tournament scheduled on exactly the same weekend as your sixmonths-in-the-making weekend away with your spouse, do you:
a. Delete the e-mail and disable the computer and telephone so your son can’t find out when/where the tournament will be, and reluctantly inform him of the “missed” fun upon your hangover-ridden return.
b. Convince a teammate’s parents that your child will be a welcome addition to their road trip (neglecting to tell them about that pesky lice condition that just came up).
c. Tell him about the tournament and let him know he could go if only Granny weren’t so selfish with her dialysis appointments.
d. Cancel the weekend, take him to the tournament, cheer at every goal, stay in the world’s crappiest motel room in Upper Armpit Ontario and then tell everyone you had the best time. You and your husband can have sex next year.
2. You have five minutes to get out of the house and drop your two-yearold daughter at the babysitter before your overdue hair appointment. She’s just fallen asleep and is showing the first signs of a cold. You decide to:
a. Slip a warm hat, sweater and boots on her before she wakes up and whisk her into the car, willing her not to cough until you’ve left the babysitter’s.
b. Snag a passing neighbour into coming into the house and watching television for an hour while your daughter catches up on some well needed sleep.
c. Call the hairdresser and arrange for another appointment later that day — and throw in an extra couple of highlights just because.
d. Cancel the hair appointment,dump a box of L’Oreal on your head and pray that the lighting will be dim at the gala dinner tomorrow night. And look how sweet she looks sleeping there….
3. Your five-year-old is having a screaming fit in Wal-Mart about the $50 piece of crap toy he desperately wants you to buy:
a. You say “no” and leave the store.
b. You say “Ask Daddy when you come here on the weekend.”
c. You say “yes”, put it in the cart and then take it out at the checkout when you distract him with ma 25 cent lollipop.
d. You say “Yes, if you’ll just shut up. But only this one time…and don’t tell your dad.”
4. You’re at a “kids invited” dinner party and your children are the only ones not interested in the movie in another room that has the others quiet. You:
a. Lead them back into the movie room and tell them that their alternative is sitting in a dark room upstairs that you’re pretty sure the Rottweiler never goes into.
b. Pour yourself another glass of wine and tell your husband to just deal with it and not to return to the dinner table if he’s bringing those rats with him.
c. Tell them if they’ll be quiet for just half an hour longer they can stay up for an extra hour and have candy tomorrow night (you’re lying, FYI).
d. Explain to the other dinner guests that your precious children are not entertained by mindless spoonfed drivel and that they should be more than welcome at the dinner table with the adults as part of their developmental skills training.
5. Your Grade 1 daughter comes home with a flyer and a request for parental volunteers for a field trip — tomorrow — the same day you have arranged to catch up with an old girlfriend over a liquid lunch in the trendy restaurant du jour. You:
a. Continue planning your hot outfit and your hangover remedy.
b. Call your husband and guilt him into doing “just this one trip that means so much.”
c. Reluctantly promise, in lieu, to attend the school’s spring play the following week (where none of your children are performing, but want to go to see their best friend speak two lines), which you had previously slated for a fake flu night.
d. Call the girlfriend, set another date six and a half months away at a suburban chain restaurant five minutes from your house, and call the teacher to help organize the snack drill for the trip.
Assign yourself the following:
For every a: 1 point
b: 2 points
c: 3 points
d: 5 points
4 points: Yay — you win. You are the boss and you have a life. Rock on, girlfriend.
5-8 points: You’re still strong and managing to stay in control most of the time. Take a swig and erase that little twinge of guilt. You’re almost there.
9-12 points: There is a shadow of your former life left. It’s not too late. Save yourself. Cancel that volunteer session at the school now!
13+ points: You’re already wearing the clothes they like, cooking the only food they’ll eat, and believe that the words “yes” and “only for you, darling” are appropriate in any situation. Make a note in your calendar in 17 years to call your friends for drinks, and to have sex with your husband.
Kathy Buckworth’s latest book is Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay. Follow Kathy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth