Why is it that there needs to be a good cop and a bad cop when it comes to parenting? In Utopia, there’d be no “your way” or “my way”. There’d just be “The Way”. And we’d all agree to do it that way, united, pulling together as a team.
Mostly, in our house, I’m the bad cop. I’m the meanie who insists on a tidy room and a regular bed time. I’m the ogre who tries to limit TV and increase time spent on walks. I’m the food police, making sure no grains, starches, sugars or processed foods cross my angels’ lips. (Yes, I’m THAT mom).
Papa Bear gets to be the fun, indulgent parent. He’s the one who plays computer games and lets them stay up till 10PM watching movies. He’s not the one picking up the tired pieces the next morning, trying to get any kind of learning done, of course. In fact, when it comes to learning, he’s more of a supportive (if distracted) bystander. Very distracted, in fact.
And actually, not all that supportive, either.
Unless something has to happen fast. If we’re supposed to be somewhere and things aren’t where they go, suddenly everyone acknowledges the wisdom of my mantras about everything having a place and being in it. No one appreciates my absolution of responsibility when I say (sweetly), “well, I can tell you where it goes, if that’s any help. It might be there still.” They know it’s not. Someone moved it, and no one knows quite where it was last seen.
In those cases, Papa Bear lives up to the not-so-cuddly side of his name. He growls and stomps and roars and even bites peoples heads off. Other schedules must be dropped, and his must be revered.
It doesn’t help to be the consistent one because in a good-cop-bad-cop world, because it means being consistently firm (read: mean). Sometimes I want to be the fun one, or have us both be the fun, involved ones, and still be teaching something fascinating.