One of my children's friends told his mom once, 'When Deb gets mad, her eyes turn red.' Granted, he was usually the reason that my eyes turned the smoldery red when he visited. He was known to continually step on one's last nerve. But it wasn't that unusual in those days for my eyes to turn red and my scowl a given. I had a temper and I used it. I was known to throw things and slam doors. I could growl commands and wield a mean paddle.
I was not a nice, sweet neighborhood mom. I served kool aid, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, provided band aids and was known to rescue a neighborhood bully once or twice, but I really was never sweet to my children's friends. I did all those things with little comment or smiles. I did it lovingly but not affectionately. I had my favorites, but for the most part, my kid's friends knew me as the commandant, the police, the enforcer, the law. Dare you cross me or one of my children, watch out. I could be fierce.
I believe that there is no room in parenting for being your child's Buddy. I don't think that we are called to chum around with our children's friends. I think a Healthy Fear of one of the Neighborhood Moms is probably the best way to keep control and respect. The kids knew that I would help them in a fix, but I would not 'hang out' with them. They knew the boundaries just by a mere look. Ask my adult children today what 'The Look' was and they still may shiver. I meant business and did not threat idly. My grandmother used to say, 'Promise them candy; give them candy. Promise them a spanking; give them a spanking.' I would not have won any popularity contests amongst my children's friends. Then.
But then comes the day when you can let down your guard. The day comes when it all pays off and you can, at last, be your kid's friends. You can have conversations and laugh a lot about days gone by. You can hug them and accept them and do for them. I have several of each of my kid's childhood friends that I still keep in contact. They have to wonder why I am so different, but most of them have children of their own so I'm sure it gets clearer as their kids age, just what Ol' Mrs. Cory was up to.
I wanted them to know respect.
I wanted them to know boundaries.
I wanted them to know that while their presence was welcome, their misbehaviour was not.
I wanted them to fear the consequences of their actions. And Know That I Would Carry Out Threats.
While this was not a fun, easy thing to do, it did have it's advantages when my whole house was taken over by mass quantities of children's friends. One look, sometimes, my mere entrance into the room, would cause silence and politeness. Overnights were a snap and multiple birthday parties were no prob.
I think today, we are too eager to be liked by our children and their buds.
We are fearful that they won't like us.
Not to worry. With the proper amount of loving attention, even when it's not cheerful and doting, a child can read beyond the surface to the intent. Sometimes, the Nicest Mom can be hell on wheels in other ways towards children. At least my little visitors always knew where they stood with me.
Do yourself a favor. Let your kids friends be friends with them, not you. At least until they're older. Then you might have to have a secretary to keep track of all the 'Offended Children' that you made in the past....