Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You know your parents are lawyers when...

DM and I weren't lawyers when our relationship began. We actually met working at a bar/restaurant/nightclub, and bonded over our shared love of tequila, inauthentic Mexican food, and sh*tty Kiss cover bands. He was my manager, and he "dipped his pen in the company ink," as he so crassly loves to say.

Then we went to law school, and along with property, torts, and criminal procedure, we had to learn not to "lawyer" each other. We're not perfect at it, but I think we deserve an award for Most Improved.

Along came two miniature humans, and we're having to learn again how to keep our careers as professional arguers from bleeding too much into our parenting styles.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes my lawyer training comes in handy when trying to parent two manipulative little bastards sweet babies. For example, "Asked and answered" is a favorite retort and serves its purpose quite well when those little buggers start down the road of "Hey maybe if we ask her the same question 373 times, she'll change her mind." Where my professional training does not come in handy is in remembering that I do not have to attend every argument to which I'm invited - that I need to choose my battles wisely. I also forget, on occasion, that these are in fact my itty bitty children, and not opposing counsel. Finally, I often lose sight of the fact that "Because I Said So", while not a valid legal argument, is one of the basic tenets upon which successful parenting is based. This is not a democracy. It is a benevolent dictatorship. (It's just not always clear who's the dictator!)

Daddy Mack, on the other hand, has never really had the heart for arguing, and would prefer not to fight any battles with our little warriors. His legal training has affected his approach to parenting in a completely different way. After years spent fighting "The Man" on behalf of "The Little People*," DM identifies with our very own little people in their tireless fight for liberty and justice against the tyrannical regime of Chairman Mom, among many other oppressors (e.g., pants, shoes, bedtime routines, basic laws of survival).

(* Just to clarify. I am referring to "The Little People" in the socio-political sense, not the PC term for people with varying forms of dwarfism. While certainly a rewarding and perhaps burgeoning area of law given their reality television fame as of late, my husband does not in fact spend his time defending the rights of people of small stature.)

Some examples.

The other night, DM says "I feel like we need to get rid of the baby video monitors as soon as possible. I mean, it just feels wrong, invading their privacy like that." Me: "They're one and two years old." DM: "Well they still have rights." Me: "Um, no. They don't." (Okay maybe they do. But these rights do not include an expectation of privacy against the invasion of baby monitors. This is also reminding me of the "accidental" damage of Colby's baby monitor the other day. Hmmmm. Fishy.)

A little while back we were sitting outside a coffee shop and a police car drives slowly by. It was actually one of those RSVP (Retired Sheriff Volunteer Patrol or whatever it stands for) that I love (I have a grandpa collection). Jack started waving frantically at the car, and to our surprise, they stopped, and one of the sheriffs stepped out of the car and walked up and offered Jack an "Honorary Deputy" badge sticker. Of course by this point J was cowering behind my legs and refused to make eye contact with the nice old man, so he gave one sticker to little Colby, and another sticker to Dad to give to Jack. Once the sheriff left and J came out of hiding, DM says, "Buddy, you don't have to be afraid of the nice police man. The police are our friends. They're here to help us. Unless we're in [Wealthy Conservative California County known for police corruption]. Then there's a good chance they're corrupt as all getout and you should steer clear. But it's fine. You don't look ethnic, so you're probably alright."

When Jack is fussin' and fightin' about some nonsense or another that I've already said no to, and I tell him he needs to stop or else he's going to have to go to his room to cool out, DM says, "Well, let's hear him out. He's entitled to his 'day in court'." Um yeah. He had his day in court. It was a bench trial. The judge [ME] summarily denied his motion. Now go to your freakin' room until you're done caterwaulin', kid!

And let's say I ask Jack not to do something (stand up in the bath tub, put a ping pong ball in his mouth, climb the heavy wooden shelves like a monkey, RUN WITH A PENCIL IN HIS MOUTH) without providing a reasoned argument. Rather than present a united front, DM will say - "Well, why not?" He says it a little quietly, like that somehow makes it better, or like our kids can only hear certain frequencies of adult conversation. And he won't come to my side [a.k.a. THE GROWN UP SIDE] until I've provided an answer that satisfies both him and Jack.

Oh, and "innocent until proven guilty" is DM's JAM. "Yes, Colby is standing 6 inches from Jack's crying, swollen eye holding a large blunt object in a menacing manner, but did you see her whack him in the face with it? The evidence is circumstantial."


Let's hope they grow up to be doctors :)

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