Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Bad Parents
Every time I start to think that we've got this parenting stuff figured out, just a little, I get a resounding reminder that we're actually just idiots.

Happened twice yesterday. Both with Emily, who is actually the lower-maintenance of my offspring at the moment. She had a dentist appointment, and in one of those circumstances that makes me doubt her maternity just a little, she loves the dentist. Goes happily, smiles about it, looks forward to it... all clearly signs of early mental illness.

She left her appointment with three more appointments over the next month, to deal with five cavities and two extractions. We've been assured, repeatedly, that we're already doing all we can by having her brush her teeth more than once a day (even risking the ridicule of the Neanderthals at her school by having her keep a toothbrush in her locker), flossing, using fluoride wash, gargling with bleach, etc. But the combination of weak enamel inherited from my mom and from Willem, and unfluoridated water where we used to live, have added up to cavity-prone teeth in her head.

And I don't care about genetics and fluoride. When you find out that your kid has cavities, you feel like a bad parent. Especially when it's FIVE cavities.

Then last night was 12/5, so in keeping with Willem's family's version of the Dutch Sint Nikolaas Day, we set out wooden shoes with apples for Sinterklaas' horse and cookies and milk for the Man Himself... we don't write letters to Santa or use Santa as a means to bribe our kids to behave, because I just hate that tendency for people to ask, "Oh, and what do you want for Christmas this year?" Too much materialism, too little emphasis on the other things the holiday might be good for, like doing things for other people, spending time with family, and eating too much. So Sint Nikolaas Day is our way to mess with the kids' heads about magical men sneaking through the house when they're not paying attention, without them feeling like they need to behave just right in order to get a bunch of toys.

Can you see where this is going? Because it's screamingly obvious to me now. We woke up this morning to Emily saying, "Hey, that's weird, Sint Nikolaas didn't come. The apples and cookies are still right here."

Nice going, Mom. And Dad, YOU'RE the Dutch half of this family, you can share in the guilt, too. Ugh.

So we played a head game whereby Willem took Emily outside to "look around" while I scrambled to hide the apples et al. and scatter candy around, Emily came back in, found the candy, oh hooray, whatever, Mom. She didn't give me that world-weary look, but I think that's only because she really wanted a piece of chocolate and she knew that attitude is not the shortest line between her and gratification.

I also forgot that my mother-in-law sent a package for the day - but that actually allows me to perpetuate the head game, because I can stop home, display the package with a note saying, "Dear Emily and Jacob, Sorry I was late this morning. My horse got sick. Thanks for the apples, they helped the horse feel much better. Here's a special treat just for you. Love, Sinterklaas."

Lame, I know. Whatever.