We have an authority problem in our house. As in, I have all of it. In addition to my role as general manager, I’m also the supreme ruler over the distribution of Gummy Tummies. Piper likes the penguins.
Here’s the conversation following dinner last night:
Piper: “Can I have a gummy tummy?”
Sissy: “You don’t have the authority to decide. Mom gives out the treats.”
Dad. “What? Huh?”
Piper: “That’s right. You’re not the responsibility around here!”
I don’t endorse nor do I desire all the authority. It comes with too much “responsibility.” My partner and I do a pretty good job of dividing the work load. We each cook, clean, and care for the kids. We both work full-time. There are things I do better, like paying bills and managing the schedule, and there are things he does better, like taking the kids for shots and vacuuming. The split works for us mostly because we’ve each been home with the kids for extended periods of time and know, without a doubt, that the hardest job is staying. It’s so much easier to put on my high heels and grab my lunch box. But we both think it matters to be home, so we do a lot of tag team parenting. We flip our work schedules. Somehow in the mix, though, my alpha nature has been misconstrued by Piper and Sissy. You’d think my partner would be upset about it. His response? “I’m rising to my highest level of incompetence.” True. Doing things poorly is one way to not have to do them at all. Competence at the task does equal some amount of authority, doesn’t?
This partner parenting peril became apparent this morning when we discovered that the kids’ lunches hadn’t been packed. We went to the chore chart immediately because it holds the ultimate authority in our house.
It was a Friday morning. Clearly, he’s in charge of packing the lunches on Thursday evenings. It’s his one night of the week. Now, before you crucify him as I did…Thursday night was crazy. He was shuttling the girls between ballet and piano and picking me up late from work. We gave up at 7 o’clock and ate out. It was an evening to be endured and survived. You’ve had those, too, I’m guessing. So, we were a bit off schedule. Understandable. Even forgivable. Logically, he should pack the lunches Friday morning, right? Enter Piper. “Daddy makes the grody lunches. He doesn’t pack healthy stuff. And he forgets the note.” Sissy confirmed his incompetence. I suggested he was just doing it differently, not better or worse, and I think I then yelled something about them packing their own flipping lunches. It’s fuzzy to me now. Potty words before 9 a.m. will do that to you.
So, how do we sort out our authority problem? Which really means how do I diffuse power for the greater good? The answer was in this simple question: “Who wants to go to the park?” I have no authority at the park. In wide open spaces where metal bars are concerned, I’m that helicopter parent who insists on spotting every stray toddler as they descend the monkey bars. Piper and Sissy ran out the door with their dad. The world’s worst park mom was left behind.
And for the record, I did pack the Friday morning lunches but not because he does it better or worse. He had to be at work earlier than me. I do pack a mean lunch.