Mittwoch, 28. September 2011

7 things I'd like you not to do to my kids (or other people's kids)

1.) Do not touch
It's sad that I have to mention that, but really, please, don't touch. I don't touch you, a perfect stranger and you'd be rightly upset if I did. My children are perfect strangers to you, too, and just because they're short doesn't mean they feel comfortable with you patting them. Do you want to look like a creep?

2.) Do not feed
I sound like I was writing about zoo-animals, don't I? Another basic one. It's nice that you want to give them a treat. Just ask me, please. Maybe they are about to have dinner, maybe they just had a huge ice-cream cup. And while my kids might simply puke in the car, there are many kids around with allergies. Your cookie could be lethal.

3.) No, it's not okay
It's nice that you don't mind my kids screaming at the top of their voices or sitting down at your table in the restaurant. I really appreciate that there are still some people out there who have a high tolerance for kids. But honestly, that's a bit too much. I'm trying to teach them some respect for other people's needs and you're not helping.

4.) No, they're not dolls
I know, they're cute. But please, can't you compliment them on something apart from their looks? Come on. You're an intelligent adult, you can come up with something better. You don't want to teach them that looks are the only thing that matters. Do you want them to judge you by that standard?

5.) De-du-du-du, de-da-da-da is only cool when sung by the police
Can you please talk normaly? How do you think they're going to learn language? Surely not by baby-talk. Especially not since they're already fluent in it. It only makes you look stupid.

6.) Wear your big-kid pants
So they're not talking to you? Believe me, they understood you the first time. If they don't want to answer you it's their choice. If that offends you, well, that is of course your choice. But I thought you wanted to be the adult.

7.) Yes, you're a stranger
No, of course you're not one of those strangers who give kids candy and then want to do evil things. You're only one of those other strangers who just give kids candy. Honestly, how are the kids supposed to know that, or for that matter, how am I supposed to know that? Because the bad kind of strangers and the good kind of strangers look exactly alike until the point when they don't. Don't make me worry about what kind you belong to. And please accept that my children will err on the side of safety. Oh, and for candy, please read #2 again.

Mittwoch, 14. September 2011

On the non-existence of parental rights and why mum still knows best

If you're confused by the title, don't worry, it's intentional. I'm trying to explain.
First of all, there's this parental rights thing. We all know it. I'm a passionate mum. Mess with my kids and you find out why the most dangerous animal is a mother with young indeed. And don't start telling me why I absolutely must do X, thank you very much.
Sounds like I really like my parental rights, really?
Only that I don't think that such a thing exists. There are no imanent rights to anything that has to do with a child just because you ejaculated inside a fertile woman or poped a baby out of your vagina.
Because children are people, too.
Shocking idea, isn't it?
But I challenge you to cite a modern democratic constitution that starts with somewhat like "people have the right to life, liberty and free speech provided they're of age". Nope, those rights are granted to everybody, plus a bunch of other rights, like the right to vote and so on.
But rights come with responsiblities and consequences. And let's face it, if you have no clue what "100$" means, you shouldn't be allowed to spend them on sweets. If you can't understand what a pneumonia is, you don't get to make the choice to run around in your swimming trunks in a January snowstorm. And if you think "they promised me a lollipop" is a really good argument to vote for somebody, you shouldn't be allowed to vote*.
So, if you can't understand the consequences, you don't get the right.
Yet some of those rights are necessary for daily life. Unlike voting, which is something a lot of adults don't do, the decissions about food and clothing need to be made constantly. Others, like taking the kid to the doctor, are crucial and can't be left unadressed. So they're given to a responsible adult who's usually also the parent.
So, even though I get to make all those choices, I don't have the right to make them. I'm the stewardess of my child's rights.
I hand them back, little by little, until one day I'm not needed to make them anymore. There's a fully grown human person who can weigh the advantages and consequences of pancakes for breakfast herself.  And if I've done my job well, could make me some, too, please.
Now that I've established that I have no real right on that child, I still know best, well, most of the time. Not because of some magical mummy instincts. Not because I'm infallible. Simply because I know that kid best. I know their habits and characters. My experience tells me pretty well whether it's time for them to see the doctor or whether they just need a day on the couch with choclate cake, hot tea and lots of love.
That's why I generally don't care much if little Johnny is running around on the playground at 9 pm. Unless I've got reason to think that he's there because there's nodody at home or something like that, of course. But maybe little Johnny takes a long nap in the afternoon. Or he needs little sleep in general. Or a bazillion other sound reasons why Johnny's primary caretaker lets him run around that late.
So, don't look away when harm is done, because they have no right to do it.
But also don't judge people because they're making a different decision than you would make.

*I do notice that this is a problem with adult voters, too ;)

Sonntag, 4. September 2011

Have people ever thought about the afterlife?

It was comment from my mother in law that made me thinking about it. She's not a very religious person, I actually don't know what her beliefs are, she doesn't pray for people or thank god except in the way the phrase is used in Germany all the time: thoughtless, without really meaning it.*
So, what was it she said? Talking about my grandma who's in hospital and who seemed like giving up, she said "maybe she wants to be with her husband again".
My grandpa died last December.
So, if she really thought they would meet again, or if any believer believes in any kind of afterlife, how do they think it to be?
Would they still have their old, weak bodies? Or would there be a new one, perfectly healthy, perfectly able to do anything, unbreakable?
And most of all, what would they do for all eternity? Their lives were shaped by the struggles and the hard work they did. By WWII, emigration, hardship and also accomplishment.
So, what would that afterlife like, for all eternity, once you've gotten over the 10 minutes of joy to be with each other again?

* If you're talking to a German person and they're using a lot of religious language, don't assume that they are religious anymore than you'd assume them to have read Hamlet for saying "to be or not to be". We'll happily invoke god, Jesus, a soul and the appocalypse as idioms and metaphors.