A few weeks ago was The Hubs’ birthday, and we had a backyard BBQ. The Hubs loves to cook for people, so he smoked some ribs and grilled up some burgers and people brought their kids and we all hung out in our back yard. The weather was gorgeous, warm and sunny, as it had been for pretty much the entire month of July. Our grass is nicely toasted brown now, because the hell I’m going to pay to water something that will grow back just fine when the rain comes. And it WILL come, because this is the Pacific Northwest.
Behind our house is an alley–a private dirt road, really, along which runs a ditch. A drainage ditch, although it rarely fills with rain even in the winter, and at this time of year, with it being so dry, it was extremely dusty. You can see where I am going with this, right? The Boy and his friends (two other boys and a girl) asked if they could play in the ditch, and we said, “ABSOLUTELY. Get in that ditch.”
I think I just heard the Judgy McJudgersons of the world’s heads collectively exploding. I am sure this has caused a great disturbance in the judging force, as if a million judgers screamed out in pain and then were silenced. Even my friends at the party, who heartily agreed with each other that we should let the kids play in the ditch, felt a little uneasy about how the world might see their decision. Still, they all agreed I should blog about us sitting around the patio drinking alcohol while telling the kids to go get in the ditch. I think they felt that we were behaving the opposite of how parents are supposed to behave.
See, The Cult of Perfect Motherhood tells us we must remain ever vigilant and constantly protect our children from any potential danger. A ditch is rife with perceived dangers: a flash flood could suddenly wash our children away. There might be dangerous items in the ditch. The ditch is filthy; who knows what germs may lurk in the ditch! Someone who has not been deprogrammed from The Cult would definitely see ditch-playing as a bad idea.
But, the thing with perceived dangers is, many of the things we are so afraid of are such remote possibilities that I am more likely to win the lottery than to actually experience them. A flash flood in Seattle? When it hasn’t rained in a month? And when it does rain, it’s a drizzle? I’ll take my chances, thanks.
Other things we perceive as dangerous to our kids are only dangerous because we don’t teach our kids how to react when they come across them. If any of our kids HAD found a knife or whatever in the ditch, they have been taught what to do–leave it there and tell an adult–and what not to do–run around trying to stab each other with it. If you teach your kids what to do when they approach a dangerous situation, they are much less likely to come to harm. Because potential danger is everywhere, you can’t keep them from it forever. (Did you see Tangled? If that crazy lady couldn’t pull it off, I sure as hell can’t. She was way more focused and motivated than me.)
And as for drinking, do not get me started on people who judge others for having a beer at a BBQ. Alcoholism is a real serious problem. A beer at a BBQ is not. It’s like feminists who focus on spelling women with a Y, instead of real problems like pay equity and domestic violence and the billions of women in this world living in poverty with all that entails. The Y is not the problem. The beer at the BBQ is not the problem. You are wasting your energy on things that are trivial. Oy, see, you got me started.
Besides, there is a good reason to sit and have a beer at a BBQ with the other parents. Remember my tips about how to escape the Cult? Remember the one about connecting with other parents? A BBQ is a great place to do that, but only if you aren’t too busy chasing after your kids in case they find a knife in the ditch.
Great moms who have escaped The Cult of Perfect Motherhood let their kids play in ditches and get filthy and have fun. And they connect with other moms over a drink and some awesome ribs while their kids play in the ditch. So, if it’s dry where you are, tell your kids and their friends to get in that ditch, and have a drink. It’s what great moms do.