Monday, October 20, 2008

Bringing Home Bad Habits

There's a new daily fight in our house. It's an all-out war that is guaranteed to end in hurt feelings, yelling, screaming, crying, and ruined feelings. It's about who is going to be the "line leader" when we leave the house.

They run. They push. They grab. They try and scare each other by lying about spiders or ants near the door. Yes, these are my angels of two and three. My older daughter is actually distraught when we get to a red light and are not the line leader of the light. She suggests that we turn or wait so we can be. Where did they get this idea that they need to be the first one out the door? God knows that their mother and I don't model this behavoir. And they can't possibly get it from TV.

They got it from "The little school."

They go to daycare at the college twice a week for a couple hours so that my wife can attend classes while I'm teaching classes. It's reasonably priced, run by people very vested in education, and its rarity in the week gives my daughters a strange sense of importance, being away from us.

But this line leader fight has got to stop. It has to, really.

I tried detracting from the importance of being the line leader. I tried to show why it had no real value, since the second and even third or fourth person out the door leaves within the same span of five seconds. That didn't work.

I tried initiating turns, encouraging them to be excited for the other one when it was her turn. That didn't work.

I tried letting the first girl out, closing the door, electing the second girl line leader, and opening it again. That fell flat. And nothing made them scream louder than when I decided that I was the all-time line leader for the rest of their natural lives.

I've installed a socialist regime in regards to who gets to be the line leader. One cannot become line leader by deeds alone. We have a chalk message board by the door and everyday I will write the designated line leader's name on the board. The board will guide us through our weeks. All will put their faith in the wisdom of the board.

If this doesn't work, I'm taking the damn door off.

But really, this whole line leader thing, as bad as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg. Hell, the other day, Solstice said she wanted a Barbie for her birthday--a Barbie! Where in the hell did she learn about those? I've gone through great pains to keep the secret of our patriarchal society hidden deep in the shadows of the ether. But the word is out, they know who Barbie is. (It turns out they read a Barbie book at little school. Wha-what? I thought this was about education!)

This is all thanks to their favorite weekly activity, going to little school.

I know, I get it, I'm overprotective, I'm sheltering, I'm trying to control their cognitive realities to match an idealized version of my own vision of the world. It's easy for me to justify since I'm someone who doesn't believe in an unconditional reality, but a socially constructed one. But what's with this whole conforming to the lowest denominator thing? Can we not make better decisions than the mass media does about how our children should view the world?

Like I said, this is the tip of the iceberg for us. In so many realms, peers influence children so much more than their parents do. Children of parents with strong accents don't grow up to reflect them if their peers don't have the same accents.

So I have to stick with other ideals of mine. I have to see this whole line leader thing as an opportunity; a chance for me to practice making the worlds of our home life mesh with the worlds of their social lives. I never thought it would be easy, but I was banking on Mattel going out of business by now.

1 comment:

mrsb said...

LOL! Oh, I so remember the line leader days! My youngest is 9, so they are mostly over now. Even worse, my middle child is mildly autistic, so if we didn't leave the house in the "right" order, he would meltdown. Ohhh, the joy!

Don't worry, Barbie alone will not warp your daughter. I finally gave in and got my daughter one after much begging. (I did wait and get her the Halloween witch Barbie, though!). She now has all the Halloween Barbies for the last few years, who sit on a shelf. And she hasn't asked for breast implants once.