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The reversal of power
Sudie Crouch

For the longest, I have been the bad cop of our parental unit.

The no-sayer, the joy killer, the one who was not afraid of laying down the law.

This has made me the non-fun, uncool parent and undoubtedly the least favorite of the two at times.

But I have never said, “Just wait until your father gets home.”

I never shirked discipline or decision making.

Never. Not ever.

If anything, I have been the heavy, and let his father be the good cop, the parent that let the child do boy stuff, and the one that he could commiserate with over having such a nightmare of a mother.

It was not necessarily a role I enjoyed or relished but it was one that was more natural for me.

All I had to do was think of what my mama would have done when I was a child; her strict and unyielding methods were easy to imitate.

My reasoning and logic were simple: my job description is to keep him safe and make him a decent human being. Fun was not part of either of those equations.

I have been the one who said no and did the arguing more times than I can count.

And there have been times I think I have been unjustly put in the position of the bad guy by my husband.

“Ask your mother; if she is OK with it, I will be, too.”

First of all, he should know – and probably does – that I am never OK with anything.

Especially if it involves going to another kid’s house when we don’t know their parents, let alone the kid.

I am not going to be OK with him doing anything that I feel poses the least bit of harm to him in any way, shape, or form, and as a mother, I am able to foresee things his father cannot.

There have even been a few occasions where I think the child has tried to manipulate us, telling his father I was fine with something when I wasn’t and vice versa.

He evidently thinks we don’t compare notes when he’s not around.

It was a tactic I had employed as a child, playing Mama and Granny against each other, and Granny fell for it.


I had told her Mama would be perfectly fine with me getting a second piercing in my ears, explaining she had taken me to get them pierced the first time after all.

“So, she is OK with this?” Granny asked.

“I am sure she would be – don’t you think?”

Why I thought I needed a second piercing, I don’t know. I seldom wear earrings in them now, but when you are a kid, you always think you need something you don’t.

About three weeks later, Mama saw little gold studs that were horribly infected in my ear lobes while I was asleep. She pinched me awake.

“What’s in your ears?” she demanded.

“Wha --?” I was still sleepy.

“Where did you get these earrings? Did one of your friends pierce them for you?”

She asked because Mama pierced her own ears – twice – so she thought everyone was crazy enough to go around jabbing a needle through their ear lobes.

“Granny did it,” I said.
“Granny pierced them?”

“No, she took me to Claire’s.”

Now, keep in mind, I was half asleep. Otherwise, I would never dream of ratting on my grandmother, especially if I had told her a half-truth in the first place. The old gal may still come back and haunt me over this.

Granny was livid. She thought my mother had given me permission.
Mama was furious because I had defied her.

They both realized I had kind of manipulated them both, meaning I was in deep stuff, y’all.

This experience taught me a very important lesson.

Being caught between both redheads when they were angry at me was a precarious vortex. And, parenting is a tag-team sport.

Cole being a few weeks shy of 15 has decided he needs to get his ear pierced.

Since all I have said to the child the last five months was no, I took a deep sigh and decided to pass the buck.

“Go ask your father,” I said.

He gave me a smirk, thinking one way or the other, he would get his way.

A few minutes later, he went back to his room quietly.

I tiptoed to the bedroom.

“What did you tell him?” I asked.

“I told him I would have to think about,” Lamar said. “I don’t want him to get his ear pierced, but if we give him some time, he will probably change his mind.”

There was no yelling, no screaming, just a simple, “I will think about it.”

What was this crazy logic?

A few days later, the ear piercing was mentioned again.

“Did you ask your father?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “He told me if you were OK with it, he was, too.”

“Oh.” I knew full well that was not what was said. But I also knew this was putting the decision back on me – did the child really want to do that? I am the sayer of no after all.  Even though it gets old after a while, it’s my duty.

“So, what do you think?” he asked.

I thought for a second. How did Lamar handle the situation the other night? There was no arguing, debating, or screaming.

“I will have to talk to your father about it,” I answered simply.

My response caught the child off guard. He was expecting a fight.

Instead, he given something else.

He was put off indefinitely.