Urban Mother: Pencils Down
By: Ann Brown Okay, I’m off to loll about on the couch and watch TV for the rest of my life. I have fulfilled my duties as a mother. See ya next time around, suckas. I spend a lot of time fretting over all the shit I did wrong with my kids. Even though they are grown, even though they are kind and curious and honorable people, and even though fretting isn’t going to change anything, it still occupies most of my days and nights as an activity. But yesterday at lunch, it all changed. Jeannette said to Michelle and me – we all have kids between the ages of 23 and 29 – “we did a good job raising our kids. They vote.” And before my forkful of Pad Se Ew could reach my mouth, there it was. Achievement. Yes, my kids do vote. Good parents raise kids who vote. Ergo… Right on. I am all about lowering the barre to meet reasonable expectations. One evening, in one of the parenting classes I teach, Nimah said to me, “enough with the endless discussions. Just tell us what the minimum requirements are in parenting”. To which Andrea added, “well, to still get an ‘A'”. At the time, I was slightly speechless, never having given much thought to the idea of minimum requirements in parenting. Which is weird, because finding a way to do the very least is pretty much my raison d’etre. If you recall, I am the one who paid a friend to take a class in college for me so I could sleep in on Tuesdays. And now I have an answer, thanks to Jeannette. And Jeannette should know. She is an amazing textile artist. Also, she can bake any kind of cookie there is. Any. Those are good enough parenting qualifications for me. Now, it makes it even nicer that my kids vote the same way I do. I’m not sure I would be claiming achievement for raising them right if they were, say, supporters of Newt or the Boner. In fact, I am certain I would return my signed certificate. And then pluck out my eyes with a meat thermometer. Happily, however, we all wound up on the same side. Except when it comes to hippie things like love and peace and Blowin’ In The Wind and putting lemon slices in your sox when you have a cold and keeping a dreamcatcher by your bed. And smudging sage to cleanse the house after you have a fight with someone, and spitting three times and swinging a chicken over your head to keep away the evil spirits when someone compliments you. You know, normal shit. My kids are not really down with that. I guess I shouldn’t have expected to raise hippie kids. I mean, a kid has to rebel against his parents. And if his parents are a pair of old dope-smoking, blanket-toting, protest-going, bare butt-showing, commune-dwelling, Amway-selling, wheat bread-baking, granola-making, skinny dipping, acid tripping, folk song singing, poncho-clinging, dulcimer-playing, full moon baying, incense-burning, Marxist-learning, toddler-weaning, leftist-leaning Pinkos, then, really, where’s a kid to go from there to make his own rebellious statement? I should be relieved they aren’t fascist dictators. Or Kelsey Grammer. So now that I have fulfilled the Mom Requirement and I will have all this time on my hands, I think I am going to…hmmm…er…what was it that I was going to do… Oh, right. Lay down.