We Swore We Would be Fun Parents | What Happened?

I am EXACTLY the parent I swore I would never be.  Are you?

I’ve journaled all my life and I very distinctly remember writing things that sounded somewhat like this: When you’re a mom always be fun. NEVER make your kids eat vegetables. Let them have soda whenever they want, stay up until Johnny Carson is over, and stay home from school to play Atari, Mr. Mouth, and Parcheesi, at least once a week.

As I hit high school… my verbiage had changed, but I think the underlying “be fun,” message remained unscathed: Remind your older self to Never be as overprotective as Dad. Don’t make your kids beep you (who new beepers would become obsolete?) 5 times a night to check in, give them a break if they skip school or drink at a party, or spend the night at a boy’s house — if they swear they were “good.”

Well, as it turns out, I’m not one to heed self-warnings.

I just returned from a trip to Vermont and watching the other parents cheer their kids on as they rock and cliff dived, (dove?), (jumped to their possible deaths?), made me realize that I may be, the most un-fun parent ever.

This was the scene on the downhill rocky-terrained hike to Bingham Falls (a natural swimming hole where no swimming hole keepers come to file the edges down on the sharp rocks, or scrub off the moss that makes them slippery):

“J, Ry, stop running! Wait for us. Mark, they shouldn’t be taking this hike in flip flops, what was I thinking?”

Mark: “Jenny, they’re fine.” (But he always says that, so, what does he know?)

At least 5 children ran past us in flip flops to mock me and make me seem even more over-protective. Their parents leisurely lollygagged behind, talking to and enjoying one another — never screaming for their little ones to slow down or to put on some hiking shoes or to watch where they’re going.

Who the hell are these people? How are they so calm?

Must be “back woods” kinda folk that have tons of kids that are both siblings and cousins, who are superfluous enough, that they wouldn’t mind losing one or two in the course of an afternoon.

“J, wait up, I’ve seen you trip twice. Slow down, the falls aren’t going anywhere.”

Finally, we arrived at the bottom of the rocky, jutty, sharp, path and navigated our way over and under fallen trees and around crags, to get the rapids and falls below. As my 7 year old daughter and I slithered under a tree that two women were using as a seat, I overheard one of them tell the other about a child that had landed himself in the hospital, an hour earlier, as he slipped while jumping.

“People were screaming to locate his parents” she explained.

My heart skipped a beat. What were his parents doing that took precedence over watching their son jump from a cliff? I guess, you’ve seen one kid jump from a cliff, you’ve seen em all? That’s what they say.

I’d also been told by a lady on my zip-line tour that kids had died here in the past. Yep, the day before, as my son and I hung 70 ft in the air, affixed to a tree by two of those metal clicking things climbers use, I was warned about the dangers of the falls.

Irononic, I know.

I don’t look un-fun here, right?

I allowed J to jump from one of the lower rocks, and watched him slip a couple times getting there. Each time, nervously pretending to find this whole activity acceptable, and mentally berating myself for not being as awesome as the other parents, who cheered and hooted.

Those parents looked to be perfectly calm and not at all searching for rocks in the water that their kids could hit, or mossy patches on the rocks that their kids could slip on.

Then, it occurred to me that ALL of those parents couldn’t be “back woods” folk with an abundance of disposable offspring. So, I was forced to consider the more obvious explanation: They were all totally high on wild growing pot that was emitting an odor and osmosis-ing into their systems. Yes, yes, and I was somehow immune to it and therefore, the only reasonable person in the bunch.

That in mind, I put my foot down and yelled, “this is the last jump.” And when he returned asking for another, but from a new spot on the mountain ledge that required you to sidle up with your back against it, I did the only thing a reasonable person, who was not high, would do: I faked a heart attack.

Which was not as excellent of a ploy as it would seem!

Even as I laid on the ground clutching my chest and yelling, *”Elizabeth, I’m comin’ to join you,” my son, begged, “Just one more time, please mom! PLEASE! You’re so UN-FUN.”

“Your mom is having a freakin’ heart attack here,” I exclaimed, “could we not head back to the hotel and do something a little less dangerous, like the Alpine Slide?”

Sheesh, kids today. You tell them they can’t jump off a mountain, and have a slightly dramatic albeit, faux heart attack, and the next thing you know, you’re “un-fun?”

My son broods from a rock at the highest point he’s allowed to jump
So, we left. My daughter, proud that she’d made the hike down. My son, sulking and annoyed. And me, giddily clawing my way back up to our car, as relieved and UN-FUN as ever.

* If you got the Elizabeth reference, you’re not only old like me, but you have horrible taste in 70’s TV, and I think we’d totally be friends!

PS – If you’re thinking, Hey neurotic overprotective lady, speak for yourself — I’m one of the fun cheering parents, who may or may not have an osmosis high… please send your thoughts to JennysTherapist@aol.com.

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25 thoughts on “We Swore We Would be Fun Parents | What Happened?

  1. Ashley Austrew

    Ohhh this will SO be me. I used to think my mom was the least cool person in the entire world…until I met myself post-baby. Now that title? Is all mine, bitches. Hand over the trophy.

  2. Rachel Burckardt via Facebook

    Your kids don’t need fun parents. They need parents that they find out of touch, a bit dorky, and worthy of mind ridicule.

  3. Kristen Mae

    OMG me too!!!! We also hiked to a waterfall this summer, and I also couldn’t understand why everyone else was so fucking calm about watching their kids almost commit suicide. But I WASN’T quiet and I didn’t ‘reluctantly allow’ shit – I kept yelling at my kid with this crazy-loud squeaky voice, and then apologizing to everyone around me for how weird I was. Fucking embarrassing being the only parent who is rational. Geez.


  4. cherie

    That would have definitely been me. I felt every ache in my being as you described the rocks. Great analogies and yeah, I got the Elizabeth reference, I think we watched the show together…

  5. Erica

    I think we all dream about being fun parents and then reality sets in… The older you get the more scared you are of hurting yourself or putting your kids in any kind of dangerous situation.

  6. kfletch

    I’ve lived in Vermont for 20 years now and I’m still waiting for the wild pot to take effect. My ex took the kids to a waterfall last summer and apparently my son almost drowned after he slipped off a rock. The kids love telling me that story. I need to go lie down.

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      See, it’s shit like that, that’s the reason we can’t get divorced… I’ll have no say in what crazy assed things he’ll take my kids to do. I tell him, he’s mine until the kids hit college… then we’ll reassess!

  7. John

    LOL – this so reminds me of me and my wife at the Grand Canyon with our kids. We had arrived in the parking lot of the Grand Canyon (yes it has one), got out of the car and had walked a few feet around the corner revealing a trail showing a majestic view of the canyon with scenic cliffs and colorful valleys and my two boys zip right past us running down the trail along the cliff’s edge (one in flip-flops, the other in long, BIG pants that could easily trip him up), kicking up dust and causing small rocks to tumble down the ledge hundreds of feet down causing tiny chain-reactions as they go. They made it about 50 feet before we yelled at them to “come back here NOW,” and we decided to go back to the car and drive around the canyon rather than walk. Still got some good pics. Here is one of them 50 feet away, as far as they made it before we told them to come back. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=224785030976620

  8. RuthAnne

    That cracks me up. I am from VT and reading your version of our “pool” adventures makes me laugh. And the alpine slide… when I was 5, I had the worst accident to date there, about 20 years ago now, but I skinned half my face, knee and finger. No I am not mutilated, with the grace of God, it healed well, but ‘cliff” jumping (rock jumping perhaps?) VS alpine slide… Scary,

  9. A Middleton

    I would probably have been even more uncool, wondering what parasites they might pick up from the nature water. And I so go the fake heart attack reference BTW!

  10. weezafish

    Man, I was nervous just reading your post worried it was going to turn into a “and then my son fell” kind of story! Eeek! Love the fake heart attack, embarrass them or worry them into leaving, it would work either way.

  11. Julia's Math

    Sometimes I say something, and the I look overly shoulder because I am*sure* my mother actively said whatever it was. Everyday I become more and more like her…. I’m glad my husband likes her cuz that’s what is coming down the pike…

  12. Tracy @ Momaical.com

    I am typically “the worstest mommy ever” because I won’t let my children cook on the stove by themselves. And, I never let them swim at the pool by themselves like some other mommies. I mean, maybe she’s right. My daughter is 5 and can barely keep her head above water but I need to cut the apron strings at some point. Yeah right! Maybe when she’s 25… Although I do admit to throwing up in my mouth a little when I hear the things my mom use to say come out of my mouth!


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