Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Peel Me a Grape

Jonah is reclining on the sofa with a pillow propped under his head while watching Elmo croon to his goldfish. Without diverting his eyes from the TV, the Roman lord shouts, "Juice! Now!"

Um. Hello? You talkin' to me? You expect me to drop what I'm doing and go into the kitchen and pull down a sippy cup and open the fridge and locate the juice and pour it into the cup and screw on the top and hand you the cup and get out your way so that you don't miss a minute of Elmo? How did I go from a smart, feisty woman with excessive amounts of useless education to a hand maiden for a four year old Roman lord?

You'll get the juice, Nero, only after a few niceties and perhaps some groveling and when I'm ready to get up.

Kids are naturally authoritarian and self centered. Their world revolves around them. And given the opportunity they can become toga-wearing tyrants.

I've talked about the old priorities that women had during the 1950s -- husband, house, and kids last. I've joked about Pamela Anderson's priorities -- kids, lingerie, and career. But I haven't talked about the modern mother priorities -- children, children, children, work (maybe), children, husband, housework.

Yes, we live like slobs. (A disturbing number of people have come to my blog by googling "orange mold in bathroom.") Nobody wants to do it. Women who work are too busy. Even women who are home are not there because of the housework. That would be too old school.

For most women their priority is their kids. Many quit their jobs because of the children priority. But there are a few cases where the children priority goes very, very wrong. I've seen some appalling behavior. "Oh, Sweetie, what do you want to do? You don't want to go to the pool today? OK, we won't go, Sweetie." "What do YOU want for dinner tonight, Sweetie?" Women who arrive to the playground with a supermarket aisle of snacks and drinks, just in case Sweetie is in the mood for milk or juice or goldfish or chips.

Not that I should get too judgy. I understand how fear of a temper tantrum can mess with your mind. Occasionally when I've been pushed around too much, I shout at the kids, "I have rights, too." OK, they don't know what that means, never having read Locke or Rousseau. But it reminds me that I am no one's hand maiden.

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