Photo: Ramirez: “Can I have this soda?”

We are not called to be perfect parents.

I can’t remember who started it or when, but my sisters and I give each other Bad Parent Points (BPP).  It’s a non-judgmental way to acknowledge our parenting mistakes and, you know, point and laugh at somebody else’s predicament.

As we have more children, our parenting standards seem to fall from ‘perfect’ to ‘good enough’, because it is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining to attempt to control one little person – let alone 3 or more!  When our standards fall too low (from ‘good enough’ into ‘I don’t even care anymore’), or our kids blindside us with their unpredictability, we hold each other accountable by giving BPP.  We don’t actually keep score, but it’s fun to dish out the points anyway.

All it takes is for you to turn your back for a second, and for all of your competency to be thrown out the window.

Some examples of ways to rack up BPP include your son getting pinto beans stuck up his nose… beans – plural – and very stuck during a lively game of Loteria (Mexican Bingo).  Or, your son could casually throw a pebble at grandma’s sliding back door, causing cracks to spider web across the glass.  OR, your son could wait until you take him out of the cart at Sam’s Club for a harmless drink at the water fountain, then race 10 feet away on his little toddler legs to the bakery where he rips open a package of cupcakes and takes a giant bite before getting caught.  #notMYkid

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By the way, the phrase “#notmykid” is something my younger sister started us saying recently.  I think she says this to de-stress herself, and to gloat that her kids aren’t doing whatever she’s hashtagging.  On vacation together with my parents and sisters last week (we’re a close family), I showered my 3-year-old like any respectable mother would after a hard day of play.  Twenty minutes later, I found him sporting his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas while playing in a sandpit with his cousins, the sand coating his still damp hair.  There was a time when my sister would have grabbed him up, showered him again, and put him to bed before I even realized he had slipped out of sight (that time would have been before she had baby #4).  This time she practically sang, “Hashtag not my kid!” as she walked by me staring at my son with my mouth open; she was free from that nagging feeling moms get that they should be doing it all for everybody.

It’s ok to laugh today.

They say, “one day you’ll look back at this and laugh”.  Dealing with daily stress isn’t any easier when my kids do the crazy things kids do.  Instead of losing my cool, however; I take a deep breath, and just roll with it the best I can.  Talking about how the situation turned out differently than what they had imagined in their head, sending a picture of my predicament to my sisters, or even joining in on the fun can turn a disaster into a learning moment for us all. With the incredible support-system I have and the grace of God, it’s a lot easier to laugh today.  In fact, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the day without finding the ability to laugh at the predicaments my kids get themselves (and me) into.

There is no such thing as a Master Parent.  You can’t earn a Ph.D. in parenting at Yale or Harvard University.  There is no black that is black enough to make a Blacker Belt in parenting.  We are not called to be perfect parents; all we need is to do our best using love, creativity, and determination.  Our kids love us, no matter how many mistakes we make; which is good, because even my seventh child has made me “earn” more Bad Parent Points than I care to count.