Dear Parents: Don't Have a Cow, It's Just a Dish

First and foremost: I am not a parent, because (1) I like to keep my money for myself and (2) that is how my uterus rolls.

Second, simply because a seed has not taken hold in my body does not mean I am unable to learn things that parents should know and/or things that some parents do not know. In fact, I seriously question the logic, sanity, and thought processes of some parents due to the fact they have children.  Hello! So, please, get off your high chair.

Third, there are these things called 'books' on the topic of educating children which I have read and they are freely available at public libraries; radical! Plus, watching reruns of SuperNanny  teaches me a great deal about child psychology and poor parenting practices. As well, I have volunteered with children and interacted with children of all ages in my daily life, including overlooked children more commonly referred to as 'baby  boomers'...emphasis on baby! Not to mention, I was raised by parental units, which means I have experienced parenting from the child's point of view, so there is that.

Fourth, did you know that people who work for state-instituted child protective services are not required to be parents in order to tell you what is best for your child? The same can be said for teachers whom parents entrust to instruct their children, and sometimes those teachers instruct the children more than the parents do. So, please, humor me for once and just be glad I am not mandating my insight on you.

Fifth, I will let my words speak for themselves so that you may be the judge of whether or not I know what I am talking about. If you think I am full of it, welcome to the club!
Do not,  I repeat, do not  flip out over a broken dish, even if it is an important dish; or for that matter, anything else that becomes damaged, destroyed, or dirty by accident. Do you know why you should not flip out? Because there are more important things in this world than a dish, which, more often than not, was made to be broken. 

Seriously, why else would a dish break so easily if it was not  made to be broken? Brands aside, dishes break, period; once you accept this and move on, you can exert your energies on more important matters.

As well, there are worse things in this world than a broken dish, such as a broken spirit, a broken bone, or a broken life. I will gladly face the reality of cleaning up the mess of a broken dish rather than deal with the sadness of cleaning up a broken child.

A child's spirit and sense of self is more important than a dish, no matter if the child is 1 month old or 101 years old. Unlike a dish, a child's spirit is an extremely rare and precious commodity that cannot be replaced easily or cheaply, unless you should want to pay for visits to a psychologist or other mental health professional. However, even that does not guarantee the spirit will ever be fixed or even recovered; at best it will patched up so that it is tougher for the tears.

Therefore, my solution is to let the broken dish serve as a simple learning lesson of how to clean up a mess, rather than lessening the child for being what they cannot help -- human! To err is fundamental to humanness; to not have a cow over the err is mindfulness. This is something I continue to work on with myself every day as mindfulness must first be consciously exercised in order to become subconsciously habitual; in fact, a broken dish is what inspired this blog post!

All children need to learn to clean up their own messes in life and the earlier they learn the better they will be. So rather than raise your voice to the child, do your duty  as a parent by teaching them how to clean their mess. I mean, you did know that having kids meant teaching them to do things for themselves, right? 

Whether or not it is an accident, if a child learns that they have a mess to clean up when they break a dish, this may very well teach them to be more careful with dishes in the future; and it is far less scarring in the long run than being subjected to hurtful words storming down in thunderous, spirit-ravaging tones.
As well, one can avoid broken dishes by incorporating that magical word from The Graduate:  Plastics! Granted, if you are too concerned about the opinions of others when it comes to the aesthetics of plastics, you may be missing the bigger picture and this article will have no impact on you. So be it; I am not the jackass whisperer. 

I also understand the reality that plastics can break and messes can still be made, but as many of us learned from that wise and wonderful woman Roseanne Roseannadanna -- It's Always Something! So, you can let that 'something' be a waste of energy on flipping out over a plastic dish or a brand-name glass dish, or you can put that same amount of energy into teaching a basic lesson in life -- if you break it, clean it up! 

Another suggestion to ease the burden of loss, and should the dish be a precious family heirloom or endeared to your heart for other reasons, incorporate this helpful tip from PeeWee Herman: Why don't you take a picture, it will last longer!

In all sincerity I recommend taking a digital picture of the dish, then store the image on a hard drive or in a cloud; should something unforeseen happen and cause the precious dish to break you now have the image of it stored so you can admire it again and again, without having to clean it (bonus!). Plus, should the dish be insured and then stolen or damaged whereby insurance would cover the loss, the picture will help for documentation purposes.

In conclusion, I have heard the 'you aren't a parent, you don't know what you're talking about' argument before. Well, allow me to retort: If you are a parent who either (1) chose to be a parent without recognizing your responsibilities and/or (2) you did not know how not  to become a parent and ended up becoming one by default, your argument is moot and has no standing with me. So, please, do yourself and your kid a favor -- don't argue with me, don't have a cow, and go be a parent.

Thank You for Not Having a Cow, Man!
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1 comment:

Cul-De-Sac Hero said...

I appreciate the intent of this article. You are correct in asserting that the most important consideration in the broken dish scenario is the child, not the dish. Dishes can be replaced. In fact, when one buys a set of dishes, attrition should be expected throughout the set’s lifetime. I would correct you on one slight but important matter that might not have occurred to you due to lack of parental experience.
Chastise the behaviour, not the child.
There are two broken-dish scenarios. The first is the honest mistake - child is behaving responsibly, but by some sort of accidental mishap, the dish slips and breaks despite deliberate effort to avoid it. The other is the careless or reckless behaviour leads to a broken dish. The truth is, dishes will break no matter how careful one is, but, carelessness will lead to more broken dishes.
Case in point - my favourite, but old, headphones. My son developed a fondness for them and began using them frequently. I noticed them on the floor and meant to remind him to pick them up. The next time I saw the, they had been stepped on and broken – obviously by him or his brother. The lesson, here is that careless behaviour more often leads to loss. I was upset, but, the punishment is that we both lost use of the headphones. The lesson is that we should put things away when we’re done. This behaviour leads to less loss of things.
The child needs to learn what acceptable behaviour is and what ideal behaviour is. Nobody meets the ideal, 100% of the time, including adults, so punishment must be meted out with consistency and understanding with the intent on correcting the behaviour through increased thoughtfulness, not making the child think they are bad.
I understand the point of the article, I just thought a little refinement was necessary. You might not have quite the awareness of how recklessly children behave, that a parent inevitably does.