I am sure many of you, like me, enjoy reading about other people’s parenting missteps, mainly because it makes us all feel better about our own parenting missteps. I have three children under the age of two. As such, we are spread very thin and this leads to numerous parenting missteps on pretty much an hourly basis. Don’t get me wrong, overall I think we’re doing a solid job but yes, we pick our battles. Wearing seatbelts, brushing teeth, putting on suntan lotion are musts. Wearing pants at the dinner table, however, is optional at best. And that applies to me and my husband, as well.
When I was around twenty, I spent the summer in Europe. I still recall the feeling I had walking around Amsterdam. No, wait, let’s be honest, stumbling around Amsterdam. The feeling was pure amazement that everything we are told is wrong – namely drug use and prostitution – was accepted fairly openly in the Netherlands and the country still managed to be world class with respect to every possible barometer of excellence.
Which brings me to this: in Canada, even in the summertime, it is assumed that everyone wears shoes. If you don’t wear shoes, you are considered “the crazy hippy” and if your kids don’t wear shoes, well, you are officially known as “the shitty parent”. I recently moved to New Zealand and here, shoes are pretty well optional. You can go shoeless into shops, including grocery stores, and most kids go shoeless to school. The other day I was driving by the local school and saw the kids running around the block and all but one was shoeless. It is a good reminder that everything, including parenting choices, sometimes come down to cultural differences.
One such example from own life: I was at my brother’s bar mitzvah and my grandmother, an Eastern European at heart, was drinking what looked like a slushie. I was indescribably excited to get a slushie in a fancy glass so I asked her for one. She handed me hers and when I spat it out and exclaimed “ugh!”, she just laughed. It was no big deal to her and indeed, I intend to get a laugh out of doing that to my own kids and grandkids one day. My husband, who is not Eastern European, may not find it so funny but hell, I won’t berate him when he lets the kids go shoeless so I guess we’re even.