One friend shared that her daughter is “scared of Tita Meah. She’s mean.” Unfortunately for her, I come with the package when she wants to be with my girls. We then went on and talked about the things that our girls do together and what we do when we’re in charge.
My friend admitted she used to let the girls go wild! Her previous helper used to hover over the children, cooking them yummy healthy snacks, packing away toys after the girls have tired of playing, and even runs after them with a small towel to wipe off sweat. My girls are on vacation when at her house. Her reason – her daughter was an only child until she turned 7, and it was such a joy to have playmates! (Now that she has two, the children are not as spoiled).
In contrast, my helper at home plays with the children and polices them. Before they exit the room, they need to pack away all the toys back into the closet. The girls will always rush through this and just squeeze everything in. Although they complain while packing away, my girls also know they can’t get away from it because this “mean” mom throws away toys.
Our house rule is: “Any toy left on the floor and not packed away is considered trash.” They have experienced fishing out a toy from the bathroom trash can that also contains all the disgusting goodies. They are also given a broom and dustpan and they need to sweep up crumbs. There are never any complaints against sweeping simply because they are too scared of a potential roach attack at night. There are no specially cooked snacks; the children have to hunt through the food bin on their own. On the days that I’m in charge, this “mean” mom won’t let them up from the table unless they finish their food, including all the rice grains that fell off their plates.
One Saturday, Shobe asked me to text her teacher to explain that she had left her notebook at school, and could she submit her homework on Tuesday, instead of the Monday deadline. Being a “mean” mom meant that even if she needed to complete a task over the weekend, I refused to do anything. This meant Shobe had to go to school on Monday and admit that she was “not paying attention” to her things and had to request permission for late submission.
One day, when Achi was 7 years old, she kept bugging me to let her watch “Wicked” (the musical). First off, the tickets for “Wicked” were priced through the roof. Secondly, I felt she wasn’t old enough to watch it. Then I get the classic line, “But my classmate G watched it with her familyyyyyyyyy….” Me: “Am I G’s mom? Their rules at home are different from our rules. If you like their rules, there is nothing stopping you from moving.” (I know for a fact, that my friend, G’s mom, got four free tickets to “Wicked.” Otherwise, she would never have brought G either.)
Same answer for why, at 9 years old, she still cannot have a mobile phone. This “mean” mom also requires them to “close hands” – clasp hands at the back and walk very slowly – while at the mall areas with breakables or in crowded restaurants. It’s just about boundaries. They used to love playing hide and seek under and inside the racks of clothing at the department store, until they weren’t cute anymore and were big enough to topple the clothes racks. When I showed the children the news and photo in 2016 about that child who wiggled under the cords designating a keep out area and toppled and wrecked a $15,000 Lego statue of Nick Wilde, the fox from Disney’s “Zootopia,” the first thing they blurted was, “But there was a line!”
Shobe’s issues are a little different. I call her my little barangay chairman. She’s in second grade, but I think the entire school knows her. When she was in kindergarten, she only needed to be at school for 2½ hours, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It was quite troublesome for my mom and I to schedule our own appointments so that the driver can bring her to and from school in the middle of the day. I inquired about the school bus, but there weren’t any other kindergarteners from our area. I was dejected as I left the school bus driver, but the school bus yaya hailed me back. “Ma’am! Kayo po ba ang nanay ni Z? Siya ba ang susunduin? Sige ma’am sunduin namin kahit mag-isa! Same rate lang ma’am!”
At 3½ years old, she has made such an impression on strangers that they were willing to bend over backwards to accommodate her. These days, when I fetch them from school, everyone we meet will say goodbye to her. When I ask her who those people are, the answer is always the same. “That’s my friend, kuya so and so. That’s my friend, ate such and such.”
Being such an adorable child with the general public affirming her, my husband and I have to step back and make sure that she realizes the world does not revolve around her. We make it a point to block her from looking at our phones and social media accounts, even when her Tatay and I are laughing our heads off at a Facebook post. We need her to learn that there are such things as “none of your business.”
She is also currently obsessed with being “pretty,” and wants me to buy her nice shoes and sandals and pretty dresses. This “mean” mom refuses to do so and makes her wear almost brand new hand-me downs from her cousin in the US. This “mean” mom also makes her wear sneakers (for PE class) that were on sale that has – “gasp! Avengers?!? But I want Barbieeeeeee!” Yes, getting her Avengers shoes was done on purpose. She is well on her way to making decisions that would make her pretty and popular. This “mean” mom needs her to learn to deal with disappointment and the value of money.
To quote Meredith Ethington on www.scarymommy.com “What’s good, mean moms know best is that sometimes being mean is the thing that helps our kids grow up to be respectful, decent humans.”