On one of our seven-hour drives to London, in one of the rare moments when the kids weren’t absorbed by a movie, a book or a video game in the backseat and I wasn’t dozing off in the passenger seat while Luc drove, the four of us got talking about nicknames.
I never really had a nickname that stuck as a kid. “Jenny-Poo” was sometimes used affectionately by my friends. Although more often I heard the less affectionate “Little Jenny Perfect” muttered in the classroom when tests were handed back or report cards handed out (yes, I heard).
I guess I just wasn’t a nickname kinda kid. But apparently things have changed. It took my children all of 10 seconds to come up with a nickname for me: “Dream Crusher.”
They howled about it then, told Grandma and Grandpa about it when we arrived, recounted the story to others, explaining how “Mom never lets any of us do anything we want,” and still, from time to time, when the moment calls for it, they bring it up and laugh about it again.
I laugh along with them, good sport that I am…but more and more the moniker weighs on me.
Because in every joke, there’s an element of truth, and this is mine: I say no. I resist. I prevent. I always get my way. I’m a Dream Crusher.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic about it. Parents (the good ones, in my opinion) often have to say no and mean it.
No, you can’t play Destiny all day.
No, you can’t have a chocolate bar for lunch.
No, I’m not buying you an iPhone just because everyone else your age has one.
But what happens when the no’s go beyond trying to raise the kids to be responsible, thoughtful, capable adults? When the no’s aren’t just about upbringing, but about our very lifestyle? When the no’s are no longer directed solely towards the kids, but towards the family as a whole…and have an impact not just on them, but on all of our relationships with each other?
No, we’re not getting a dog.
No, I won’t trade in my van for a pick-up.
No, I don’t want to move to the country.
Luc grew up with a dog and Vivi would give anything to have one. I’ve never liked animals and can argue all day long about why we shouldn’t get one. But what gives my reluctance more weight than their desire? Who gives me the final say? I do. So, no, we don’t have a dog.
Luc has a list of sound reasons why a pick-up would serve us well. But I’ve had a minivan for close to decade. I love it, I’m comfortable in it, I don’t see why we need to change it. So when my old one died, guess what replaced it? Yes, another mini-van. Jen wins again.
Luc and the kids would love to move to the country…a larger house on a larger lot, fresh air and room to breathe. But I grew up in the suburbs and want to stay in the suburbs. I love my house, I love my neighbourhood and I love my neighbours. Think you’ll see a “For Sale” sign on our front lawn anytime soon? Not likely.
More and more, with bigger and more complex family questions, I often feel like it’s a me-against-them situation. And obviously they do too, hence the Dream Crusher label. Funny when it’s bandied about during a game of Trouble or Sorry (“Oh! And Mom lands on your peg again! Back to the start you go! Dream Crusher!”).
Not so funny when I start to feel like I’m holding my husband and children back from things that, if it weren’t for my objections alone, they could easily and rightly have. When I feel like I’m the petulant child, crossing my arms, stamping my foot and insisting on getting my way or I won’t play anymore.
I don’t want them to end up resenting me because of my stance on these and other issues that are sure to come.
Nor do I want give in.
“Little Jenny Perfect”? Not so much.
Dream Crusher seems about right, right now.