When I was growing up, I'm pretty sure that none of the parents I knew grappled with the "good cop, bad cop" dilemmas of modern-day parenting.
In my neighborhood, everyone's dad was the bad cop. Moms, on the other hand, were always a pushover. The only time moms were scary was when they threatened to rat you out and tell your dad when you did something wrong. For a little kid, the scariest words in the English language have got to be, "Go to your room and wait until your father gets home! You're going to be in big trouble then, Mister!"
When you're only 6 years old and someone is calling you "Mister," it's a pretty safe bet that you're very close to getting your ass spanked.
Sitting alone in my room like a death row inmate waiting for my father to come home, I'd always contemplate how I could make a break for it. Should I run away? How would I survive? How far could I make it with only a Mighty Mac jacket, two Kit-Kat bars, and $1.27 in pennies? Dammit, I needed a reference guide. Where the hell was my copy of "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" when I needed it?
By the way, is there any greater children's book than "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler"? To this day, whenever I'm near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I think back wistfully of Claudia and Jamie hiding in the restroom, bathing in the fountain, and sleeping on antique beds. In my opinion, this is the greatest children's literature book of all-time (ranking just slightly ahead of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "James & the Giant Peach," and the entire Encyclopedia Brown series.)
What the hell was I talking about again? Oh yeah...good cop/bad cop.
As most of you know, the Peanut is in the throes of her terrible twos. Don't get me wrong. She's still a wonderfully sweet child who can light up a room with her laughter. However, there are other moments when she will throw tantrums like a young John McEnroe and I start wondering if it's not too late to stick her in a box marked "Return to Sender."
The worst aspect of dealing with the Peanut when she throws a tantrum, refuses to get in her stroller or simply must have a cookie by any means necessary? Well, someone's got to be the Bad Cop.
Now, we often hear about the many trials and tribulations of the modern-day parent. It's become apparent that no serious discussion of parenting today is complete unless we talk about the work/life balance, the Mommie Wars, the emergence of SAHDs, or the changing gender roles among today's parents.
Hell, I think it's great that these discussions are taking place. We're so darn enlightened, aren't we?
But to tell you the truth? You want to know my REAL problem right now?
I don't want to be Bad Cop!
It's not that I don't want to be a disciplinarian when it comes to the Peanut. I'm a firm believer in discipline and there's no way in hell that I'm going to raise a spoiled child. It's just that I'd much rather be "Mr. Fun Guy." I hate being the Bad Cop.
But I realize that it's not fair to my wife for her to be the bad cop so I'm perfectly willing to share the responsibilities also. The funny thing is that she doesn't like the job either. As usual, we've discussed this openly with one another and we both feel it's imperative that we put up a united front. Therefore, any time the Peanut starts acting up, we'll often find ourselves in an amusing game of "Bad Cop, Bad Cop." Sometimes, it's pure comedy. It's like the toddler version of "Serpico." Everyone's a bad cop.
I don't know. Sometimes, I think instead of playing Good Cop or Bad Cop, we should just play Tough Cop. Maybe I'll start a series of parenting books based on the philosophical tenets of Dirty Harry. Can you imagine? Every time Peanut starts acting up, I'll squint my eyes, reach for my water pistol, and say, "Go ahead, punk. Make my day!"
It could work, right? Anyway, how do you folks handle the division of discplinary duties?