Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Rule

My friend Reuben’s comments on the last Martin Quote make me feel compelled to share that while the Martins are all about feminism, equal rights, and living out our individual destinies, we (or I should say “I” as David has no part in this) do have one directive concerning our children’s future.

That’s not to say that each of our children won’t have the opportunity to go to college. Honestly, we fully expect higher education from them. I figure with all the talk of syllabuses, abstracts, and Advanced Social Learning Theory on Developmental Cognition (okay, I made that one up, but it sounds like something David may casually mention during dinner), that’s bantered in our home daily, they won’t be able to avoid it. College will be nothing more than the family business. Our kids will have to struggle to prevent the privilege of academia. And we expect that they will likely pay for the privilege, just as David and I did… and are still doing. But none of them will be compelled to go. We’d be just as pleased with a “window washer” as we would with an “inventor” or “artist.”

Not only are they being prepared for school and employ, but every one of the Martin offspring is being prepared for marriage. They are learning to keep their rooms clean, put away their clothes, save their pennies, wash and groom themselves, and in general, work hard. I have been coming down on my boys particularly hard on this one. There are several reasons for this. First, I feel compelled to make good husbands so that my daughter-in-laws will love me. I feel no such affinity to my sons-in-law; they’d just better be wonderful! Second, since I feel that my brothers got away with murder, my sons must pay for the crimes of their uncles (but don’t you worry about my brothers; their wives are making them pay now).

But mainly, because talking about marriage with my boys is so fun while talking about it with Emma just makes me sad. For Emma, who is reluctantly growing into a lady, marriage is a topic she talks about wisely and seriously: Maybe she doesn’t want get married. Maybe she does. But not until she’s done this. Or that. I might as well be discussing it with a grad student. It’s all too real with her. Also, upon terrified reflection, if she makes the same crazy choice I did, she’ll be engaged in 8 years! Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, I avoid this thought.

But my boys, for them and me, marriage is as realistic as a day trip to Euro-Disney. Calvin plans to marry me when he becomes a daddy. Enoch promises to get married and have kids but will NEVER kiss his wife because that’s disgusting. And Taran just gets a dreamy, far off look any time nuptials are conjured. If I press him for what he wants in a wife, he blushes. And should I specifically mention a curly haired, blue eyed spitfire from Fargo, he scrunches his neck into his collar bone, looks down to smile, and stomps off, angry that I know his secret.

But with all the preparing and talking about the future, with all the offers and suggestions that I give, there is really only one rule:

I get plus one grandchildren.

That means six. I don’t care how and who does it. One of my five children and his/her spouse can produce all six, or they can somehow divvy the progeny amongst them. However you slice it, I get a return investment of plus one.

My children know this. They understand that their childhood comes with a price. They know that should they, with their careful and loving upbringing, fail me in this one request, I will disown them.

I have plainly informed them that all the time and money I would have lavished on them, my children and six grandchildren, in my waning years will be rescinded and go to ME! Emma, Taran, Enoch, Calvin, and Willa have been made aware that if I cannot spend my retirement years spoiling their babies’ dinners with junk food and rotting their brains with moving pictures, then I will spend it on sad and lonely trips to Machu Pichu or forlornly kayaking the coasts of springtime Alaska or wandering destroyed down the halls of the Lourve. Of course, should I be blessed with anywhere from 1 to 5 grandchildren they can join me in my quests for happiness in Babylon’s “treasures,” but their mommies and daddies won’t be invited.

That’s the one rule.


Belle of the Blues said...

"forlornly kayaking the coasts of springtime Alaska"—Lisa, you crack me up!

Diana said...

I think I need to institute the plus one rule but I'm not too worried since all my girls love babies. Brent is the one who's trying to pretend he doesn't like/notice girls. But he's hiding his yearbook so I can't show his dad the picture of a certain girl. Such fun!

Reuben said...

You drive a hard bargain.

Katie said...

I like that you have specific expectations of your kids. It'll save confusion later, like they'll never be able to say "You never said I had to get my Eagle Scout before I get my driver's license!!!" which is a rule at our house. (although not one that we'll have to deal with for another 6-8 years or so.)

The JNJ Hasleton's said...

Better believe I make your brother pay now. Although I love your mother to death, she's the best Mom in law a girl can ask for, sometimes I wish she had taught J to clean, & do a good job at it.

As for the grand kids rule, you're letting them off easy. I demand 3 from each. Another rule is if they try to grow their hair out longer than the collar, I will shave it off in their sleep. Clear expectations are a good thing.

Melanie said...

8 years till Emma's getting married? Are you crazy?????
I really enjoyed this post Lisa- your approach to parenting is inspirational.

I didn't expect that to be your rule though! Funny. At least they know whats expected of them. I sense some loopholes though... Do they have dates that they are required to fulfill said rule by? What if they all wait till their 30s or (heaven forbid) 40s to start reproducing? Do all 6 kids have to show up before any parents are invited to the family reunion at Lake Tahoe? Hearing my mom go gaga over her first grandchild, I just hope you're prepared to stay strong on your threats!

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

Mommy I agree with sister Collins. your CRAZY!!!!!!! but you're right about Taran.
Emma (And yes, I spy on you by reading your blog. WAHAHA!)

Lisa said...

Yes, Emma and Melanie, my one rule is random and strange. It all came about when I heard of a woman who had something like 7 children and 2 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. It got me to thinking, that with all the work she had done in her life, that was not a lot to show for it.
Of course, I can't judge, and I don't know what my children's lives will be like. But I'd like to see a little increase. That and it lets my children know that whatever it is that they do in their life, their goal is righteousness, to give back, and find happiness. I wouldn't stress grandchildren if I didn't truly believe it brings the most happiness--something I never suspected as a girl.

And Melanie, at the rate we're going now, David will graduate, get a job, and we'll be retired by 80. I think that gives me enough time to work up a numerous progeny. But either way, numerous or small, I'm gonna love them to bits and bits and bits--than go home and have a great night's sleep!

Reuben said...

Emma, I'm glad you're developing your spying skills. Here's a tip:

Spying Rule #1: Don't tell people that you're spying on them.