I am blessed to be a part of a HUGE family that kind of transcends generations. There is a complicated intertwining of all the different branches of our family tree, so you can’t quite tell where one generation ends and another begins. For example, I was only 8 years old when my first niece and nephew were born. I was also pregnant with my second at the same time my niece was pregnant with her first. Cool, right? Anyway, this closeness in age (and in the fact that we all are generally up in each other’s business ALL THE TIME and never give each other an ounce of slack or show one another an ounce of respect…in the very best way possible, of course) means that some interesting and special relationships have developed along the way.
One of the most interesting is the unique relationship amongst all the cousins. And, kind of akin to Vegas, what happens between cousins, STAYS between cousins. Having a lot of cousins is kind of like riding to school in the back of the bus: you learn many things your parents: a) don’t want you to know and b) are simultaneously glad they don’t have to teach you. Case in point, when my nephew returned from a trip to stay with all of us, we had to tell my sister not to be concerned if he told her he was going to drink beer, definitely not whiskey, with his friends when he grew up. You see, the nuts and bolts of the convo went a little something like, “The higher the alcohol content, the more drunk you get, so best to drink the bevvie with the lowest alcohol content, yes?” Like I said, cousins reveal major life lessons. Methinks we should wait until he is 13 to get into the whole “beer before liquor, even sicker” thing. All things in due time. Which brings me to my point.
Over the summer, my niece and nephew were exchanging colorful “your mama” jokes with each other, shrieking with laughter at their overall hilarious awesomeness, when my nephew tried to get my four-year-old son in on the fun. All of sudden, my niece got all serious: “No! He is too young for ‘your mama’ jokes, dude.” And I almost fell over laughing. You see, we might be a little unconventional, but we DO have boundaries.
What’s funny is that I often think of my niece’s words of wisdom because I sometimes feel like I missed the memo regarding some things related to raising kids. I sort of read my kids’ clues and go with the flow, but, sometimes when I am around other kids their age, I get a little WTF-y. Like, my son still won’t eat a slice of pizza. All the other kids are dogging theirs and my son is bellowing that it is too big and wants me to cut it into bite-sized portions. Here is a list of other things (in no particular order, because I am out of coffee at Panera and have to go pick up the kids) that I don’t know when to stop using or when to introduce:
- Sippy cups
- Toddler potties
- Toddler beds
- Anatomically correct terms for body parts
- Raw baby carrots
- Whole grapes
- Soda (I know it is junk, but I also know they WILL have it at some point; at what point will people not gasp?)
- Isms (racism, sexism…)
- Organized sports and activities (like, with practice times and stuff)
- How much down time is too much/not enough
- Stairs (they asked me if my 20 month-old daughter can walk on stairs unattended as a developmental milestone. Um, NO! I don’t let her NEAR them!)
- Strollers vs. carrying vs. walking
- High chairs vs. booster seats
This list could go on and on. Basically, there is an area of uncertainty when it comes to some, who am I kidding, MANY, aspects of parenting. When do I say when? When are you old enough for “your mama” jokes?