Pink and Blue Parenting

March 13, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Posted in Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 12 Comments

Pink and Blue Parenting: A Parable in Three Parts

I: The Good Egg

I am trying out a great new egg casserole recipe. It calls for cheese and lots of it. Is there anything better? I think as I crack, whisk, grate, peel, chop, and mix. Then I take a closer look at the egg carton. Eggs: expired. By two days. Salmonella. I am certain.

I call in my husband for a consultation. He says they’re probably fine. I press. He googles. He says they are fine, shows me the fine print on the USDA web site. I press. “They’re fine!” he says. “Really, they are.” And goes back out to paint or saw or mulch or something that suddenly seems way more black and white, more concrete, than cooking eggs.

For dinner that night: My husband has the eggs. Lollipop, Giggles, and I feast on PBJ. If Husband makes it through the next 24 hours without getting sick? We’ll all have the eggs tomorrow.

And he does. Of course. I don’t ask if all that cheesy yumminess tasted better the first time around. Leftovers are just as good. I am certain.

II: Basketball Diaries

My husband and I are going on a date. (A date!)

Lollipop wakes up from her nap and he sets her up downstairs with Disney and a drink. He then joins me upstairs to get ready. Wherein Lollipop is the sole human creature on the first floor. I have my reservations about this, as I tend to worry. My husband tends to roll his eyes. So, tongue: held.

As I’m trying to find the “fancy” jewelry I hardly ever wear, I activate my go-go-Gadget hearing. The front door is opening. I sprint downstairs as my husband yells behind me, “Is the babysitter here already??”

“No, Lollipop is outside!” I haven’t yet confirmed this. But I know.

Sure enough, that’s where I find her. Standing on the stoop ringing the doorbell. Because opening the door from the outside is not a skill she’s mastered yet. (Tiny detail.) I do not remain calm. I do not take a deep breath. I freak out, which freaks her out, and tell her to get inside this instant, that she is never to go outside without Mommy and Daddy, ever, ever, do you understand?

She says in her squeaky little-girl voice that she only wanted to play basketball with the boys outside, and I can see on her face that this logic seems unimpeachable. I try to explain why this isn’t a good idea. And I fail. Because my heart won’t be still at the thought of my daughter outside alone in the street with cars and strange boys.

Enter Daddy. Who calmly tells Lollipop why it is not OK to go outside by herself. She nods. They hug. All better. (Except for my panicked heart. Which just. Won’t. Be. Still.) Then he says, “Guess she’s not quite ready to be kickin’ it by herself down here, is she?”

Tongue: held.

III: Hands Down

We’re at the zoo. For the first time as a family. We opt to skip naps in favor of the train ride and tarantula exhibit. Consequently, everyone is a little punchy at the end of a long day. I buckle Lollipop in the car while my husband returns the deluxe stroller we have rented. (Our kids can’t say we never splurge.)

Giggles needs a diaper change. I gather the supplies with one hand while clutching the hood of his jacket with the other to keep him from running around aimlessly, as he does when he is beyond tired.

I close the door. His fingers are in there.  I repeat: Door closed, fingers inside. He screams. I scream.

I open the door. Scoop him up. Run for my husband, convinced we need a police-escorted trip to the ER and an icy cooler to pack the surely severed fingers. I am crying so hard I can barely talk when I find my husband. Finally, I point to Giggles’s fingers. All there. Red and puffy, but all there.

Husband takes a look. Pokes them a little. Bends them. Assessment: probably just bruised. Probably fine. Let’s watch them for a few hours and see what happens. I realize I’m clutching Giggles so hard the button on my jacket has left an imprint on his cheek. I loosen up. A little.

He squirms to get down and picks up a rock, shifting it from hand to hand. He stops crying. I cannot. We change his diaper, buckle him in, head on our way. He juggles his rock and giggles. I cannot.

We reassess his injuries at dinner. Fingers are fine. Hand is fine. Giggles is fine. I am not.

IV: Moral
Moms (just this mom?) over-react. This is why we love them. Dads (just this dad?) play it cool. This is why we love them. Together, Moms and Dads get the job done. And this is how parents keep food poisoning, insurance co-pays, and therapy bills to a minimum. At our house, at least.

The End



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  1. I think the pink and blue approaches to parenting are best displayed at the park. Dad takes boys to the park, reads paper while boys throw themselves down the highest slides, climb to the top of the climbing frame, jump in puddles of mud. They all come home. ‘How was it?’ I ask. ‘Good’, they all respond.

    Mum takes boys to the park. All that is heard for the next hour is ‘Don’t…’, ‘Watch out…’, ‘Be careful…’. We all come home. Dad asks: ‘How was the park?’ ‘Good,’ say boys. ‘Oh my god,’ begins I, ‘you won’t believe how worried I was when…’

    Yin and Yang. Important in all things. Though I would just like to say that The Builder tends to overreact way more than I do in the face of injury. The only thing that phases me these days is when they stop breathing. Other than that, it’s a cuddle, some ice and a bandaid. Cool. That’s me.

  2. I am an over-reactor. My husband is the calm one. I think Moms need to worry, beacuse if we didn’t worry about freak accidents, and suffocation, and salmonella….daddy certainly wouldn’t. It all balanced out.

    Loved the go-go-Gadget hearing!

  3. No one, no matter how much they adore them, will take care of your children as well as you do. Ever. I think it’s because we’re tuned in to them at a cellular level. We know intuitively when they’re OK and when they’re not. We know what horrible things could happen to them because we’ve lived it in our minds a thousand times. It makes us neurotic crazy people. It’s why being a mom is such a hard job and it’s why you’re such a good one.

  4. My husband and I are the opposite. I think it takes one of each to make a good parenting team. If both parents freaked out or were blase about injuries, things could get really tricky.

    Of course, that’s only with injuries. With behavior, we are opposite; I get harpish and he is laid back. So, we even each other out.

  5. A perfect partnership!

  6. We’re a mix, I’d say. I’m definitely the stricter/worrier parent. He is the one that can deal with my son when I absolutely cannot. I’d say we are about even on the medical thing. But any way it shakes out, I know how lucky I am to have a great partner in all the craziness.

  7. The ying and yang of parenting 🙂

  8. In the words of the wise Wonder Pets . . . “What’s gonna work? Team work!”

    I feel like hubby and I are always shifting roles and levels of calm and patience. At the end of most days though, I am proud of the mom/dad team that we are.

    I love the subtitles you use within your posts.

  9. Oh yeah. I am definitely The Freaker in our house.

    But I also kind of don’t trust my kids alone with hubs. He tends to forget about them…*cringe*

  10. This was an interesting read for me; I think my husband and I reverse the roles. He’s much more hypervigilant in many areas with the kids; I am such a laid back mom in so many ways. It’s the only way I stay sane.

    Although I do feel awful when my kids get hurt, and I do beat myself up about it. I’m trying to let that go, because I have pretty clumsy kids — that get that directly from me. No one is ever going to accuse me of being too graceful.

    But it’s like a lot of the commenters say here: Balance. Where Dan is freaking out, I’m going, “hey, calm down, what’s the problem?” And when I can’t take Kate being a spazzed out 3yo for one more second, he’s stepping in (calmly) to distract her and give me a break.

  11. Your writing is fantastic. Thank you for your 3-part parable. That is very true in our house. My son has been splitting wood WITH AN AXE since he was four, because of Le Papa. My kids have crazy, awesome adventures with their Daddy–creek jumping, sledding down tree-studded slopes–and I take them to the uh, park. It’s actually, as you said, a great combo, and keeps everyone happy, light and safe.

  12. Just be glad that you have at least one calm one in the house. Brian and I both freak out and overreact which is not good.

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