Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Cool Mom

I am not the "cool mom," at least not consistently. I think that I would like to be, although sometimes the "cool mom" is in reality more the aloof, "do-what-you-want-kids," lax disciplinarian mom. Considered "cool" by kids' standards, but often quite "un-cool" by other parents.

I overheard Jess and some friends talking about a party where there was indeed a parent present - a mother. I'm sure the teens parents felt reassured that the mom would police the kids to make sure no surreptitious drinking went on. However, perhaps in attempt to endear herself to the young guests, she told the half-dozen or so 15-year-old kids that they could drink, but just not "get wasted." I gasped upon hearing about this irresponsible insanity. "What a cool mom!" someone exclaimed. "My mom isn't that cool," another lamented. I wondered how neat they would have thought it was if one of the party attendees had gotten alcohol poisoning and the perceived cool mom had been arrested.

I wish our house was the kind that kids all wanted to come over to (though certainly not for the above reasons; God forbid!). No, I mean a destination that meant fun toys and apparatus, electronics and entertainment devices. I certainly see it as such, especially when compared to the house that I grew up in, and even the previous house we owned in New Canaan a scant four years ago. I recall being very excited that this new house boasted a finished basement, large playroom, including a bathroom attached; whoa! How decadent. But to my dismay, my bratty younger two have never entirely seen it that way. "It's gross," pronounced Jess when she was in seventh grade.

We have a trampoline in the back yard, a huge side yard where Jack and his sporty cohorts could have football and baseball games, plus a swimming pool. The basement features foosball and pool tables, an indoor plastic basketball hoop thing, and various video game systems. What more could a kid want, I ask? Well, according to Jack, we need an open space to play rug hockey like the trappings of his friend Eamon's basement (whose home is deemed the "cool house").
I believe Jack suffers from playroom envy. He has also complained about the television set in our playroom. So even though his dad recently won a nice sized flat screen in a raffle and replaced the offending t.v., the rec room is still not snazzy enough. Eamon's (or Drew's) is the place to be. I am always apologizing to their moms that we aren't reciprocating, but not for my lack of trying to convince Jack that it is the polite thing to do.

While Jess was in middle school our house was the go-to sleepover pad and I enjoyed getting to know her friends on a weekly basis. For one year Jess's bedroom was a very good-sized room above our garage and off the kitchen - the other side of the house from the master bedroom - so she could have the noisy nights, nab junk food at will, and we didn't have to keep imploring the gals to keep it down. So we were cool.

Perhaps a cool mom - or dad - is one who can be accessible not only to their child, but to their child's friends; not a buddy, but an easy-to-relate-to, trustworthy adult. I remember and cherish the couple of mothers of my girlfriends to whom I could confide concerns about my own mother, boyfriends, long-term wishes and goals. And yeah, a hip parent may also be the one that lets the sixth grader watch a PG-13 movie, stocks their pantry with Gushers and Oreos, offers a can of Coke over a juice box, or treats a gaggle of eighth grade girls to manicures and a meal in town unsupervised after dark. These lenient allowances may get them temporarily into hot water with the more conservative parent, but they aren't illegal, highly questionable actions.

So for now the place to hang out after-school is Eamon's and Drew's. I will embrace that fact because I think the boy's moms - Eileen and Robin, respectively - are pretty cool in and of themselves. I hope our playroom, our house, will be a draw again. My cupboards are stocked, my fridge overfloweth with soda. And in the spring, if you see me cruising around town in my convertible with a kid in every seat, please feel free to shout: "Well aren't you the cool mom!"

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