Well now I’m freaking out that I don’t have anything to say. Or that I’ll say it wrong or badly or it won’t be interesting. This blogging thing might not be as easy as I thought. But here goes…
Working as a secretary in a middle school for the past 7 years has given me such perspective on parenting. I live in the district where I work, and we moved here on purpose. It has great schools 🙂 Getting a job in this district was just a bonus after being a stay-at-home-Mom for 8 years. It’s your pretty standard, middle of the road, average income, nice neighborhood where 95% of the people take pride in their lawns and care about their community. Among the other 5% are homes with too many lawn decorations. But nice lawns don’t always mean nice families. Most days I love my job, but a lot of days I leave here in bewilderment at how some people define parenting. At home I watch My 600 LB Life and hoarding shows, they help me feel skinny and clean. My job typically helps me feel like a rock-star parent. CPS comes in on average 1-2 times a month. Parents with expensive cars, phones and manicured nails ask for handouts for field trips. I get yelled at for failing to notify kids that the homework that was faxed over to me wasn’t given to the student in time. Accountability and responsibility are words that seem to have lost all meaning, for parents and students alike.
Oh, I’m a helicopter parent, no doubt about it. I like to think of myself as in constant recovery though. The question I am always asking myself is how do I help my kids without doing it or solving it for them, therefore scarring them for life and unable to fend for themselves should they find their cell phone battery dead in the middle of a suburban mall. Oh the horror. I said to Brendan just a few days ago, my fear is that WHAT IF, just WHAT IF that ONE time I tell my kids “figure it out yourself,” is the time that they fail beyond repair. My kids aren’t drug addicts, I’m not bailing them out of jail regularly, they aren’t being suspended from school. But in MY world, the problems they face often feel like a disaster in waiting. It’s not life or death, but the older they get, the consequences of failure become more significant.
How does one let their kid fail? Can I get a signal from God maybe, where he says this is the one, let them fail this time, I promise it will be ok. And damn it all, I KNOW I shouldn’t be doing it. I know what happens if my kids don’t learn now that they are responsible for their choices, their decisions, their forgetfulness, their laziness. It’s my job to prepare my kids for life beyond the walls of our home. I won’t always be there to rescue them, or will I? I’m 42, I still need my Mom and Dad. And guess what? They are still there for me should I come knocking on their door. I know 100 years ago, kids were working full-time in the factory, there were no cell phones and all their homework was in Latin, but I bet their parents were still there to help them conjugate verbs or milk the cows.
I worry about my oldest, Riley. First kid syndrome and all that We did everything for him. Sheltered him from everything. I only lost him once. That was unpleasant. But kudos to the zoo workers who saw a 2-year-old with no parent nearby. Nice job, Mom. Do kids with a stay at home Mom or Dad have more overbearing parents than kids who have 2 working parents? Is he lazy because of us or is it just his personality or maturity? He’s 16 now, almost a senior in high school, and we don’t feel he’ll be ready to go away to college, be on his own and responsible for himself. Can a lot change in a year? Sure it can. But right about now I’m feeling pretty lousy about my parenting choices. Here comes that fear again, did I ruin his chances at being successful because he doesn’t know how to balance a checkbook, scrub a toilet or feel comfortable in a job interview yet? Will he be able to manage his time in between classes and get his work done? I know, I know, don’t compare your kids with the valedictorian or the other kid who made his first million by age 14, but gee whiz, can he just come out of the basement every now and then?
As usual, more questions than answers. I kinda feel sorry for Riley, he’s the guinea pig. The other 2 will be slightly better off, I hope. I will know the answers one day, probably when it just doesn’t matter anymore. By then I’ll probably have grandkids I can over-parent, my boys will be off the hook. For now, I promise to never fax my child’s homework to their school. Because that’s just crazy.