I choose to play with a ball.
I choose to sit in a box contemplating the meaning of life.
Today I went to the play room I love that blares kid-inappropriate music such as Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and The Commodore's "Brick House." (Must children under 5 know that Lionel Richie's idea of a "winning hand" is 36-24-36? No.)
I took the girls, but I would actually have a pretty good time there on my own as well. While the tunes are delightful, the parents are often not. Here is a (one-sided) conversation I witnessed between a mother and her 18-month-old.
"Emily, Mommy is giving you two choices. You can choose to continue crying and we will go home or you can choose to stop crying and we'll play for a while longer. Please think about it and let Mommy know which choice you'd like to make."
What new-fangled parenting manual advocates this line of dialogue? Listen, I'm not saying giving kids choices is a bad thing, or that tricking them into believing they are in charge of their own immediate destiny can't be an effective parenting tool. What I am saying is that if I hear you talking like that to a baby I'm going to make fun of you.
I myself talk to my children like they are beyond their years. ("Is it me, girls, or does Caillou seem to simplify the plight of the modern family?") So I'm really nobody to talk. But I try to have inane conversations with my children in the privacy of my own home so that nobody can mock me on their blog.
This particular child -- Emily -- chose to keep crying. Yet, there they were -- Emily and Mommy -- playing for the next two hours. So I'm not sure Emily learned much about choices and consequences today. But neither did my kids. I basically told them if they didn't shut their yappers while we waited for our car in one of those parking garages that insist on getting your car for you in exchange for a tip that they wouldn't get to eat the lollipop they always receive at this particular garage. (They were squealing "LOLLIPOP!" in a pitch that only certain breeds of dogs and mothers can tolerate.) They in fact didn't shut their yappers and you know what they ate all the way home? Lollipops. So my children are no better than Emily and I am no better than Emily's mother. Maybe just slightly less annoying. (Emphasis on maybe and slightly.)
But, hey, if we can't harmlessly mock each other's parenting styles how would we manage to feel superior to other mothers? And isn't that what motherhood is all about?