Mothering Heights


A Cranky Dictator


By Christine Fugate.

“Put your phone away,” I nag my 11 year old while driving to dance class. The constant texting and posting on Instagram is getting on my nerves.


My daughter stops texting to take a photo of the rain.


“You don’t have to take a photo of every moment of your life,” I snap, taking her phone and putting it in my purse.


“Look out the window.”


After a grumble or two, the car goes silent.


I once read a book that said the most important rule of parenting was to assume the role of benevolent dictator. I seem to be getting close.


What can I say? I’m just cranky these days. Seriously cranky, which is not good when you’ve battled cancer. After wrapping up that chemotherapy and radiation, you are supposed to be skipping through fields of daisies, singing ‘Hallelujah’ at the top of your lungs. Some days I feel like that, but not today.


This whole tipi issue in our neighborhood has gotten, as we say in Kentucky, my panties in a wad. After my last column, I was criticized for attacking the guy with spirituality (Andrew Soliz) and supporting the Man (the Design Review Board), distracting the issue with the urination story, and being a new Lagunan who doesn’t have the values of true Laguna.


I know about the wrath of the Design Review Board. So strict, citizens are unable to begin construction on a home, their lot remaining empty. People’s home improvement plans locked up as they rework design specs to meet the board’s approval.


Over the years, I’ve participated in protests over various issues. Perhaps my critics are right;I should be cheering Andrew on for building his tipi first, answering questions later.


But these days, in my small world, I only know how to rule, handing out unpopular edicts: no walking around the village alone, drinking a caffeine filled caramel macchiato or spending all of your allowance at the Candy Baron. No, no, and no. Have I’ve become such a dictator that I think everyone everywhere needs to follow the rules?


Maybe, but I’m not budging. It’s my kids’ job to rebel and fight the mommy system. Obviously parenthood is different than government, but I still think people need to follow the rules. Who knows? Maybe it’s right for Andrew to build his field of dreams and question the Laguna Beach building codes. It’s obviously more complicated than ‘Mommy says so,’ but fortunately we live in a city where disputes are handled without violence and everyone can sit down and discuss the issue.


This Saturday, Laguna Beach will be celebrating this freedom of expression with the Patriot’s Day parade. Nothing screams, ‘free to be me and you’ like the amazing collection of groups that participate. I may be a relative newbie, but I am fully committed to our town and its diverse population.


My daughters will be dancing in the parade, their hands free of electronics. As for me, I’ll probably be taking pictures and posting them to Facebook. We can’t forget the other number one rule of parenting: ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’


Christine can be reached at [email protected].

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