Anne Palumbo: Oh, the joys of amrchair parenting!
Now that my kids have flown the coop and no longer require my day-to-day guidance, I have discovered a new joy: armchair parenting.
If you are still in the trenches of parenting, you might figure I am talking about the lazy parent who screams directives from the sloth-like comfort of his or her armchair. I am not.
I am talking about the seasoned parent, such as myself, who enjoys observing, judging and sometimes correcting the parenting skills of complete strangers – all within the confines of my brain, of course. Truly, mum’s the word with armchair parenting, not a peep, not even a wayward glance. Hell hath no fury like a parent reprimanded by a clucking stranger.
I find armchair parenting joyous for a number of reasons, with the top one being: I am no longer in the childrearing trenches. Yeehaw! Party like it’s l999!
Sorry for the gloating, but I can’t help myself. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy parenting – I most certainly did. Sure, there were a few tense years when the kids were teens and I lost big clumps of hair. And, yes, I’m still finding remnants of parties held when we were out of town – but that’s life. All’s well.
Anyway, I get the biggest kick out of armchair parenting when I’m in the checkout aisle of the grocery store – an area ripe for disagreements and meltdowns – because it perks up the wait. Whenever I hear a “no-no-no-oh-for-cripes-sake-YES!” response to a kid’s request for candy, I am transported back to the day I used to buckle like that and feel oddly comforted by the capitulation. Imperfect parenting lives on!
On the other hand, and with regards to the same issue, I once observed a parent say this, “OK, you can pick one junky thing, but that’s it. One.”
Brilliant, I thought: She set limits, gave the kids control, and let them know they were eating junk – all in one fell swoop.
Recently, however, I encountered a parenting situation that nearly made me break my no-speak rule. On a bus full of passengers trying to get some shut-eye, an insufferable mother was loudly spelling out every word to her toddler.
“Look, Timmy, a silo, S-I-L-O, silo. Oh, there’s a cow, C-O-W, cow. And see that? It has an udder, U-D-D-E-R, udder.”
On and on she went, much to the dismay of all within earshot, including, I believe, poor Timmy. But I never peeped a word, fearing a sippy-cup-whipping by ol’ Alphabet Breath.
If you are an empty-nester who misses raising youngins, I can’t say enough about armchair parenting. It’s the best! Just remember not to air your concerns and opinions. I mean that, too. Stifle the urge to correct. That’s what marriage is for.