This blog was never intended to be a tool where I would just rant incoherently about “what bothers me du jour” but more about a dialog of conversations that we SHOULD be having. There comes a time however, when a good old fashion rant is just what the doctor ordered.
As many of you may know, California has had a bit of a cold spell lately. Not worth any attention by the rest of the country’s standards but certainly extreme for this state, with temperatures of 50 degrees by dusk and dipping to the upper 20’s (in my neighborhood) overnight. The National Weather Service even issued a steady stream of warnings due to the inclement weather – it’s cold y’all! But despite all the warnings and record breaking temperatures, there appears to be this alarming trend that I haven’t fully made sense of yet.
Recently, my daughter wasn’t feeling well and we decided to take her in to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t anything more serious. When we got to the doctor’s office, to my surprise, the waiting room was full of sick kids. While waiting and making my judgments…oops, I meant observations of others, I noticed something interesting about the families in the waiting room – almost all of the children were dressed as if it were 70 degrees outside (which at the time it was about 47) while the parents looked like they just returned from Siberia! I am talking about kids in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops, babies in onesies – parents in full length coats and gloves!
Later that evening, I needed to make a late night puppy food run. By this time it was in the low-40s, so naturally I bundled up. At the pet store, low and behold, I see the same exact thing! Dad looks like he is going on an Alaskan expedition but the kids look like they just came from a luau! Seeing this seriously made me think, since when, did we parents ensure our needs were met before the needs of our children? We do not parent with an airliner mentality where we’re supposed to put on our oxygen mask first before helping our children. How is it that we can be completely protected from the elements but our children are left exposed?
Now, do not get me wrong, there could be a million and one reasons why the Pet Store dad was bundled up but the kids were not. And, there could be equally as many reasons as to why the parents in the waiting room were bundled up, while their kids hacking up a lung, were not. Look I get it, we are currently going through some challenging clothing issues with my daughter – getting her to understand she has to dress a certain way to protect her from the elements has been a challenge – but one thing is for sure, in this weather, she will be dressed adequately.
This perceived phenomenon really eats at me to the core – so what is the deal? I mean this isn’t my first rodeo (channeling my inner Dr. Phil) – I have seen this time and time again and even in different parts of the country. What’s going on here? Taking the difficulties of getting kids dressed out of the equation, could there be something else going on here? Are we as parents rationalizing the notion that children shouldn’t wear coats in car seats (as directed) and using that to justify why we do not dress them warmly during inclement weather? Or, do we as parents just want our children “used” to the cold (not applicable for southern California)? Or maybe, just maybe, some of us are just too self-absorbed to even notice or care? Too harsh? Well before you get offended, there was one other thing that I noticed that solidifies my assertion – hyperbole withstanding, every adult was immersed in their cell phones! Immersed to the point where the children were either misbehaving, trying to garner their parent’s attention or just plain uncomfortable – and the parent is just on the cell phone.
Without going off the deep end on this, my bigger point is, could we as parents be so self-absorbed in our lifestyle and careers that we neglect the very reasons why we are even called parents – our children? Are we doing the proverbial, “Oh, I forgot my kid was in the car when I ran into the store” routine? At the most basic level of providing protection from inclement weather, is our wiring changing to the point where we grab a jacket and head out without a second thought?
I know, there are a lot of questions being asked here of which I have no answers. I think the bottom line is, we as parents need to only ask one simple question: Shouldn’t I be treating my children better than I treat myself? I guess depending on how we answer that question, determines what kind of parents we choose to be.