One of the best parts of getting older is recognizing what your boundaries are. Not that Latinas always recognize that very gringa word. But knowing what you should and can say yes to and what you can’t say yes to is such a big step in becoming the grand vieja you were meant to be.
Here’s a big boundary for me: watching other people’s children–or even more precisely–watching dominant culture raised children–because I don’t have time to deal with kids whose parents raised them to be entitled brats and since in a mixed room of goodly and badly behaved children you can’t pick and choose, I just flat out don’t watch other people’s children.
Which isn’t the same as saying I wont have my kids’ friends over because thankfully they know who to bring over and who not to (which really translates into they bring over quiet, respectful kids who I don’t need to entertain). Even if they aren’t quiet, they know to go outside.
My daughter is in a community theatre musical at the moment. Which is awesome. I love that she’s branching out; l love that she’s having new experiences. But there’s at least 10 children in this production and she’s the only one I’ve ever seen sit still for five seconds and listen to the director. The stage moms of these minions seem unbothered by their children’s boisterous behavior, and that’s fine for them. It appears that come showtime, those moms are taking shifts backstage and wanted to know what day I wanted a shift. I had to tell them. Sorry, I don’t watch other people’s children.
I’ve been around these rehearsals enough these last few months to know that most of those kids are unruly and need a chancla thrown at them. I can’t imagine any worse way to spend the evening than in a green room with the cast of Fame wannabes who don’t know how to shut the fuck up because no parent has ever told them to (I just dated myself). Watching dominant culture children brings out the worst in me. I want to tell them with TED talk powerpoints about poverty and hunger and flies on children’s faces how very entitled they are with their trivial issues.
I want to make them suffer and to be—well, less entitled dominant culture Americans. But that’s not socially acceptable. One of the mothers was pressing me and I finally just said, “Well, you see, I hate children.” “But you have children.” “Yes, but mine are well-behaved and don’t need a babysitter backstage. I’ve trained them.”
She looked horrified. And of course, that was judgmental on my part. It always comes as a big surprise to these mothers when normal people are like you know what? I don’t really like to hear kids screaming indoors and jumping off counter tops. They aren’t being creative like you think they are. They’re just being assholes. I’m sorry, I don’t care if little Ashley and Cody are the center of your universe. They just look like future oppressors to me. I saw them not wash their hands before delving into the snack food tray. You are raising them to be extras on a Disney channel sitcom pilot that never airs and I want no part of that.
So I compromise. I promise to bring homemade cookies and healthy snacks and leave them behind the Green Room so they can snack while they pretend to be Siamese children speaking uncomfortably broken English for the King and I. Oh colonialism, you never die, do you?
So no. This Latina mama wants no part of watching your children–especially for free. It’s not an even trade when yours are bouncing off walls and mine is sitting reading a book. But if you want to pay me to coach you on how to be a Latina mom with kick ass well-behaved and respectful and smart children, my rate starts at 50 an hour. You can give me a call.