Thursday, March 08, 2007

Perfect Parenting

Tonight was Newton Unplugged, a time when everyone in the school is encouraged to not have any TV or computers or electronic entertainment.

My kids asked if they could have a plugged night.

We never get to watch TV during the week! They all complained.

It’s true. They don’t. Somewhere along the line, when they were all little, I realized I was using television as a babysitter. I didn’t want to do that anymore. It made my life easier to a degree- when it came to pull them away from the TV, they would fight like little drug addicts losing their fix. So I said, no TV during the week.

As they got older, they had homework, reading, and baths- too much to do and have time to watch television. And they always wanted to go out and play, too. No time for much else.

That was fine until American Idol came along. Ben is a fan. Big fan. Huge fan. Why can’t I watch it during the week? I’m the only one who can’t…

It’s true.

I said, I need to talk to your mom and dads about this, okay? It’s a family rule.

Walter said to me, you know, most kids get to watch some television. Ben really loves the show. They engage with each other while they are watching… and…

Yeah, but... too much television… I hate TV. I don’t like it on. I think it’s bad…

You know, I watched Gilligan’s Island and still went to college, he said. Sometimes, you just have to lighten up.

I know he’s right. Part of it? A big part? Being gay parents there is such pressure to be perfect. To do everything really well and to have perfect kids who are well rounded and never struggle… because if they aren’t perfect? They’re fucked up because we’re gay parents.

My friend Margaret- the Martha Stewart of Parenting- lets her kids watch TV during the week. Always has. But she’s straight. Nothing to prove. Although the quartered grapes she fed her girls when they were little did seem a bit extreme.

Tonight, I turned on the television to tape the show. The opening number was on. Ben came running in.

MOM, Thank you! And plopped into a chair, ready to watch.

Uh… no honey. I’m just taping it. But… sure. Let’s watch the opening number.

Sad, sad puppy eyes looked at me.

Listen, we still need to talk about it.

You know. Two moms, two dads. Lots of opinions. And an underlying fear- on my part at least- that I have to be perfect.

But at least tonight? He was the only one in Newton who got to watch the opening number for American Idol.


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