"Why can't I? Everyone else gets to play out except for me! It's not fair!"

It's the same three phrases every night, usually in the exact same order. The message from my son to me; "Mom, you're the worst. You're mean, over-protective and unreasonable."

But it's okay. Because I don't care.

Actually, that's not true.

What I should say is that I care so much, that I don't. Does that make sense?

You see what my son and daughters fail to understand -- because they are kids and live in the moment without the burden of perspective -- is that there is a bigger picture than the one they see in front of them.

As parents, it's our job to see life through that lens, because children, even older ones, haven't necessarily mastered that concept yet.

To give you an example, my son -- who has eclipsed me in height now (just in the last month or so) and loves to brag about that fact -- doesn't necessarily realize his body needs time to rest and recover after all that growing, and the very active day of play he's taken part in for the better part of 10 hours. So while other kids in the neighborhood are allowed to play outside until after 9 pm., mine are made to come in and start the wind-down process to bedtime. He is 12, so his actual bedtime is 10 p.m. during the summer, but I have found that by the time he gets himself ready, and sits down to read for a bit, he's ready to go to sleep earlier. His body seems to need it.

It's not just bedtime that inspires them to hate me. I'm the crazy mom who yells "Helmet!" every time a kid rides by on a scooter or a bike, and yells "Car!" every time a vehicle ventures down our street. They roll their eyes. Sometimes they ride on pretending not to hear me. It's only when I actually start walking after them that they circle back around and comply with my request, or ride over to the side of the road to get out of harm's way. I holler those words at them to help remind these "spur-of-the-moment" youngsters, to be mindful of what they're doing and what's around them.

To be clear, I don't hover. I let them play and work out conflicts on their own. I only get involved if they're doing something risky, or if someone needs help. I stay close enough to be of service, but give them their space to grow.

I think we're in a situation as parents right now, where our kids could easily have us up against the ropes, if they really wanted to. With the last half of the year essentially ruined because of Covid, they innately know that we somehow feel guilty about that --even though it's not directly our fault at all. And if kids are good at one thing, it's sniffing out a grown-up's weakness and exploiting it.

Be strong. Stand your ground. Don't give in.

It's not our responsibility to make up for the fact that the world has been in disarray for the better part of six months now. It's our responsibility to be the calm in that storm, their stability -- their rock.

My kids will undoubtedly ask, every night, if they can stay out late. And when my answer is "No." they will undoubtedly say that I am "the worst."

That's okay...because I know I am doing the best I can for them. I also know that left to their own devices, they'd eat Skittles for every meal, never bother to brush their teeth and only sometimes put on actual clothes. Left to their own devices, they'd then end up toothless diabetics arrested for indecent exposure. So I'm okay with being the worst for a little while!

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