I was watching my four-year-old nephew a few weeks back and he was literally bouncing off the walls – and off the bed – somewhere down the hall.
While the ruckus didn’t bother me in the least, I figured I had better go check just in case I had to fill out a police report. Good thing. I walked in to see him perched on a fairly high windowsill.
He then leaped – flying quite skillfully for a species with nar feather nor wing – to the bed. He pitched, only briefly, before climbing back up to do it all again. While many would walk into such a scene and scream bloody ‘get da jumpin’ you-know-what down outta dat before ya dies’ murder, the look of utter joy on his face made me stop and instead simply admire his agileness and bravery while also applauding his sense of adventure.
Now, I admit I knew his mother (my sister) would pitch a fit if she had seen him performing his ceiling-high flying act, but I looked around quickly and saw nothing that could kill him instantly, so to me, he was simply expressing his inner spirit of adventure and I saw no harm in his antics at all.
The only thing I worried about in that moment was this: how far would he take things if left unchecked?
“I have an idea,” I said to test his limits, gazing at the bedroom’s ceiling fan that was nearly centre to the bed. “Try jumping to that and just swing on it,” I said.
To my chagrin, he actually thought that was a great idea, but a few test jumps quickly eased my mind to the fact that the fan was unattainable during this adventure, so I felt fairly confident in my next suggestion.
“Maybe it would help if I turned the fan on,” I offered. “Jump to it while it’s spinning and you’ll swing around and be thrown across the room. That would be fun,” I deadpanned. He paused on the windowsill pre-jump and looked at me. While he did reply, ‘Naw,” I wondered if he actually considered my suggestion – if only briefly.
Now that my own kids are grown (25) or near grown (13), it’s interesting reflecting back on my own child raising adventures. There’s many parenting regrets from the times I tried to be a so-called good mom.
From evening homework where new math equaled mommy meltdowns, to the countless hours I spent fretting over everything from work, school and life deadlines to dirty dishes, I’ve wasted precious time sweating the small stuff. I try and let that stuff go, however, and simply focus on the times I was more of a bad mom.
The perhaps near death-defying adventures down to an outport waterfall with a dingy on my back just so a gang of 11 year-old bay b’ys could jump off the cliffs and play small human target practice with a blow up boat from 50 ft in the air hold fond memories.
The multiple times I turned a blind eye to pellet gun rapid fire and semi-sharp hatchets stuck in a kid-sized belt loop for club-house making tree-downing or ignored peddle bike jumps off a wharf’s end into the landwash in mid-April.
Wet dogs cuddled in fresh-sheeted beds? No biggie. And who cares about good linens brought back so much worse-for-wear from impromptu picnics or that all the ‘that’s for company,’ grub was gobbled down by dirty hands too impatient to wait?
Not I – more proof that I was perhaps a much better mom while being a bad mom. While suggesting I turn the fan on while a four year-old jumps on a bed might not earn me mother or aunt of the year status, it’s no doubt a memory more precious than the time I made my nephew eat his broccoli or tidy his toys.
And, as I like to brag to those who question my child-watching ways, “no one has died in my care – yet.”
If I could humbly offer one wee bit of advice as we head into Mother’s Day it would be this: Go ahead. Embrace your inner bad mom. You won’t regret it.
As the late, great author and well-known mother Erma Bombeck once famously said, “No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed,” but “housework can kill you if done right.”
Pam Pardy, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]