Thursday, March 14, 2013


Life affords us many parenting opportunities, if you’re paying attention.

Yesterday’s lesson? Using your judgement.

I’m a big advocate of behaving as if my kids have brains of their own—if I model that I expect them to think for themselves, hopefully they’ll grow up to be adults who do so.

(That’s the plan, anyway.)

I also admit that I can’t police the world, so I am trying to impart the lesson of using judgement to my boys.

What do policing the world and judgement have in common? Well, when I take my children out in public, I can’t very well expect people to notice them and set their own behaviour switch to the G-rating.

It’s not feasible.

Our vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun this past February is an excellent example. The pool was a giant network of coves and lagoons, with bridges and alcoves and plenty of places for children to hide right around the corner from unsuspecting adult vacationers spending the majority of their hours poolside consuming their weight in alcohol.

I take it as a given that alcohol equals lowered inhibitions, and for many that also means a more, um, expressive vocabulary, as well as lowered observation skills.

I get it. I swear a LOT when drinking. Honestly, I can give truckers a run for their money. I own it.

And I’ve sworn in front of my kids, too—accidentally. I try not to, but I’m not perfect. My point (as this is getting lengthy) is that I can’t very well go around picking fights with grown adults over their use of profanities in front of small ears.

While I’m sure I could the outwit sun-baked and spirit-soaked, it’s plain assholery to bring kids into a pool with two swim up bars and poolside wait service and expect the same vocabulary exhibited in a preschool.

So what do I do? I teach judgement.

I tell my kids that, yes, they’re going to hear grown ups make choices and use words that aren’t kid-friendly. They’re going to hear lots of inappropriate language, and their father and I are trusting them to use their judgement not to repeat it.

They’re not stupid. They know the giggle-worthy off-limits lingo they’ll get in trouble for repeating.

Right now it’s mostly bad words they’ll hear, but one day they’ll be old enough to recognize language and behaviour that is inappropriate because it’s disrespectful or hate speak. They’ll get it.

Their eyes light up when they catch a bad word, and they’ll meet my gaze with pursed lips and secret glee, and a nod from me is all they need as a reminder not to say it... and they’re proud to be trusted.

Bonus: I get a break from constantly saying (to others or my kids) that such-and-such is a bad word, or just picking fights to get people to calm the hell down when around kids.


Yesterday’s lesson in judgement: assess a situation and think for yourself.


We have an outdoor cat named Moghedien (Mo-giddy-en. Go with it). She’s less than a year old and a fierce hunter.

I’m sure you see where this is going?

Yep. I spotted her form lingering outside the kitchen’s sliding glass door—her telltale signal that she wants in—and told the seven year old to let her in.

So he did.

Suddenly the kitchen is a flurry of kidlet squeals and shouts:

“Moggie! What did you do?!”

“Moghedien! EWWWW! What IS that thing?!”

MOM! It’s bleeding on the floor!”

OH, GROSS! Moggie, don’t EAT it!”

“There’s blood on the floor! BLOOD ON THE FLOOR! She’s LICKING it! GAH!”

DISGUSTING! Get it out! Get it out! MOOOOOOOOOM!”

"Humans! Calm the fuck down! I've done this before! Trust!"

I’ll admit that their protests wouldn’t have been so numbered except I was too busy chuckling and digging for the cell phone to take a quick pic. (Heh. I’d noticed pretty quickly that the mouse was limping pathetically, so I had no fear of it disappearing into the recesses of the house—not that Moghedien isn't clearly equipped to rectify that...).

Cat's ear position clearly screams annoyance.

Using Tupperware to scoop up the mangled mousey, I tossed him back out the door and kicked the cat out, too, with orders to finish the job she started.

Then I turned to my oldest, who’d let her and her snack into the house, and said, “Guess what we learned today?”


“We learned that we can’t always do what Mom says, just because she says it. We need to assess a situation and use our judgement.”

He pondered this. “So the next time you say to let her in the house, if she has something in her mouth, I can say no?”

“Yes, you can say no.”

The grin I received was huge.

A little bit of power goes a long way... (crossing my fingers it’s in the right direction...)

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