“let them run” vs “hard ass” parenting

It was truth (!) when I said I’m on the “let them run” and “hard ass” parenting teams.  That was me being brutally honest, and I’m sure there are more than a few parents who keep closer tabs on their flock who are horrified by this attitude.

All I can do is reassure you that I do indeed love my kids to smithereens.  And that I’d gladly donate an organ to them, if needed.  I’m just not game for putting up with a whole lot of crap around the house…

There have been a few times, though, when I’ve wondered if I’ve strayed a bit too far to the hard ass side.  One incident happened a few weeks ago, on a morning when I would be driving the kids to school instead of BrightSide.

He usually drops them off on his way to work — it’s a nice way for them to have a little extra time with him in the morning, and he gets a chance to check in with them about school and such.  But that particular morning BrightSide had an early meeting, so I was taking over drop off duty that day. This would have been easier to do on what I consider my “off” days, when I could have thrown on yoga pants (can we have an AMEN for the inventor of those delightful things?) and run them over to the school.  Unfortunately, this fell on one of my volunteer mornings, and since I wouldn’t be able to come home between drop off and my time in the classrooms that meant I had to leave the house ready for my day.  (And by “ready” I mean wearing actual clothes, hair decent, and makeup applied so I don’t scare the other kids with my 40ish-year-old face.  Just kidding.  Kind of.)

So while I usually tackle making breakfast, packing lunches and snacks, putting the dogs in & out, keeping kids on track (I seriously need a recording of “deodorant on? teeth brushed?”), and handling any hair issues by their 7:30 departure, that day I added my stuff — getting showered, dressed, makeup, hair, jewelry, teeth, and making myself a portable breakfast that I could eat in the school’s parking lot before going in.  (Yeah, that’s a fun place to eat.  Huddled behind the steering wheel, juggling my coffee and oatmeal while checking e-mail and sending my mom a video text before school.  ‘Cause I multitask like a BEAST, yo!)

Anyway, you can see that my jobs were extensive that morning so I was pretty much the epitome of that whole “chicken running around with her head cut off” thing.  But we were good, we were gonna make it out on time.  (Which is *muy importante* because apparently, for my children, being tardy is a fate worse than death.  And mama ain’t having none of that drama today.) IMG_5925 The kids had gone into the garage to skateboard while I finished getting ready.  (Have I mentioned I’m raising two skate rats now?  Well, one intense skate rat, one girl-who-likes-to-hang-out-with-her-brother rat.)  I was in the kitchen prepping my breakfast when I heard it: an extremely loud crash, a brief pause, and then that wail.  You know the one…the cry that makes you drop whatever you’re holding and break the “don’t run in the house” rule because it’s the cry that means “some serious shit has gone down, you better get there right now.”

I came crashing out into the garage and tried to take in the scene.  (Now that I think about it, thank God T-man wasn’t coming to get me because then I would have knocked him down the steps and BAM! double the catastrophe.)  T-man was closest to me, one foot on his board, head turned to look at his sister.  Bear was behind him, on the ground, making a sound that I was suddenly sure even the neighbors could hear.  Because she was completely incoherent (really, there’s no point in even trying), I turned to T-man and asked what happened.  Of course he had no idea — he had been facing away from her when she went down.  It briefly registered that neither of them was wearing pads or helmets and then I headed for Bear.

After a few questions I manage to get the skateboarding details (which I totally won’t bore you with here).  Summary?  Tried ramp trick, board caught, girl went BOOM.  The biggest problem I have in front of me is that she’s holding her head.  (And now thoughts are flashing through my mind like MAN, are you KIDDING ME?  They were only out here for five minutes!  In another three we would have been leaving!  And now we’re looking at tears and pain and A HEAD INJURY?  WHEN I’M THE ONLY ADULT IN THE HOUSE?!  For the love.)  Bear couldn’t tell me if she hit her head on the cement floor, the grinding rail (which has a metal strip across the top), or the four-wheeler, but if she had the vocabulary and permission to use it I’m sure she would have been telling me that it hurt like a sonuvabitch.  I felt under her hair and yep, there was a big old knot rising there.

What happened next is a perfect example of how some parenting behaviors are inevitable.  I often remember thinking my dad didn’t have a medical degree but never had a problem treating every ailment and injury that came along.  Now I understand that the pseudo medical expertise comes with the territory.

I peered into Bear’s eyes to see if they were dilated (nope), gently felt her lump (that thing was getting bigger by the second!), and declared it ice-worthy but not Urgent-Care/missing-school-worthy.  I reassured her that the 15 minute ride to school would be the perfect amount of time to apply an ice pack and keep the swelling to a minimum.  And then I grabbed my coffee, oatmeal, 4th grade materials, and purse and hustled their butts to the car.  We were halfway down the street before I realized I had no spoon; luckily, T-man dug one out of the bottom of his backpack.  That was kind of gross but hey, a girl’s gotta eat.  At least this girl’s gotta eat if she doesn’t want to bite somebody’s head off.  They tend to frown on that at the elementary level.

The question for the day: where does encouraging independence end and indifference to head wounds begin?  I’m walking a fine line here, preferably landing on the side that doesn’t ignore possible concussions.

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