The soccer dad, dressed in cream-colored fleece and green pants, eerily blending in with the soccer nets and the field as he stands there like a fixture all Saturday and half of Sunday; The friend emailing with gaze fixed at the computer outputting an update to her friends: “We have hockey three times a week, dance class, violin, and karate…”, with hardly a mention of herself at all (except to tell you that she's upped her dosage of Prozac); The mom, who suddenly short-circuits when after dropping her son off at school he asks her to drive back with a different sandwich for his lunch and yells, "This is what I’ve become?! My kid’s employee?!...

Meet the Automamoms and the Daddroids.

The six-year-olds staring into their i -Phones with masked, not mischievous faces; the kid coming home from a full day of planned activities with two hours left before bedtime who asks, "What are we going to do when we get home?"; the fifteen-year-old cheating on his test because if he doesn’t get the highest score in the class he feels he’s worthless…

Meet the Botkids.

Welcome to Robotic Parenting. Had enough?

With our quest to be perfect parents, we have reduced ourselves to mere machines. We have renounced our own goals, dreams, and needs, for the sole function of raising the perfect child. With the quest to raise the perfect child, we have reduced our children to robots. We have programmed our children simply to perform, while neglecting the development of their inner selves: their imagination, compassion, self-awareness, motivation, creativity…

We are the Automamoms and the Daddroids. It’s nice to meet you. Don’t ask us about ourselves because we really can’t answer – we have lost our identities. Ask us our names and we will pause only long enough to tell you, “I’m Jane’s mom…” and, “I’m Justin’s dad…”

Meet our Robokids. Please note that they won’t care about meeting you unless you talk about them. Ask them their names and anything else that concerns them, and they will tell you. Then they will be silent. Perhaps waiting for instruction.

In our impossible quest to be perfect parents, we have lost our selves as people. And we are destroying all that makes us – and our children – human.

The good news is parenting is a behavior and behavior can be changed.

This is your wakeup call. Hello? Are you in there? Life is calling…

The Ten Steps for going from humanoid parent back to human being

  • 1. Put yourself first (at least sometimes).
  • 2. Keep the family together.
  • 3. Don't be your child's friend.
  • 4. Get disorganized.
  • 5. Bore your kids.
  • 6. Put your children to work.
  • 7. Miss the soccer game.
  • 8. Pare down.
  • 9. Tell your children they did not do a good job.
  • 10. Get back in the real world.

Quiz: Are you a Robotic Parent?

Instructions: choose (1) or (2). Add up the points at the quiz's end.

1. For you, a "driving range" is defined as:

(1) green grass, blue skies, and your yellow golf balls
(2) the miles between hockey rinks (soccer fields, etc.) your child plays on during traveling team games

2. How well does your child know spiderman (barbie, etc.)?

(1) pretty well, by reading or watching a dvd they were in
(2) very well, as spiderman (barbie, etc.) has come to see him personally, at his birthday party

3. You artfully arrange a double sleepover (away) for your two kids on a Saturday night so you can:

(1) seduce your husband
(2) finish up studying how to help your kids with their homework

4. After a game of tennis with your daughter, you:

(1) give her a bottle of water, to rehydrate
(2) give her your remote control, thank her, and leave the room

5. You are cleaning the dinner dishes yourself because:

(1) your kids are in full body casts from a freak accident and can't help
(2) your kids are busy texting their friends

Scoring: If you scored 5 points, you are still a human person. If you scored 7-9, you are in the danger zone. If you scored 9 or 10, you have crossed over and become a robotic parent. Time for the 10 steps...

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Birthday Party ( today's uber-manufactured celebration)

So the birthday party was going to be at a gymnastics place, because just-turning-4-year-olds need access to the parallel bars at this age, to keep in shape for their final year of preschool. (?) The party was  (gasp!) in the suburbs.  As anyone who has lived in the city knows, going out of it (and into it for that matter) should require a passport. The city and the suburbs  - they're like two different countries.  South America was next on my list (any country within it), as I had yet to check off this continent on the travel section of my life-goal list (traveling to every continent), but Newton was still do-able in the interim.  No problem.  A quick drive (at least for those of us city slickers who have actually - and perhaps foolishly - retained  their cars, at the rate of $300 and up per month in parking costs alone) out of the city for an afternoon outing/celebration.  

Wrong.  45 minutes later, with a gas tank in the red, where my blood pressure inevitably had crept as well, by this point, after the third wrong turn...we'd just pulled into the parking lot.  Thirty minutes late.  To a ninety minute party.  My not-yet-completely mushy brain told me that this was 1/3 of the party missed. Preface:  Sometimes math is not so good for us, as with anything, when used to excess (in this case due to duress). A missed 1/3 of this party:  That's 1/3 of the entertainment missed that we'd invested in, coming out of the city, along with probably 1/2 of the energy we'd hoped to get out for the day, from our preschooler, which amounted now 1 more trip to the playground  just to get her to sleep by 8:30 (or, numerically, 30 minutes in excess of scheduled bedtime. Not counting the jet-lag factor from our travel...)

The fun-filled party... to which we were obligated to attend with our kids as is still the style of today's birthday parties...turned out to be like watching your pet hamster in his hamster habitat, or like watching puppies playing in a pet store window...with the kids rolling around behind a huge glass wall, while the parents observed in seats, on the other side (we were not allowed in, why, I don't even know - was it that we were too big and might cause bodily injury such that another parent would end up suing the facility? quite possibly...or, maybe it was because the place was already jam packed with kids having manufactured birthday parties that parents today are unable, for some reason, to provide.  And why were we there anyway?!

This is today's grand event, known as The Birthday Party....

(To be continued....I'm still too agitated...)

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