My kids speak english good
We often joke with people that we left our kids duct taped to the wall with a box of saltines on those rare occasions that we are seen out without them. People laugh and then get very serious when they figure that that would not be so farfetched. We know as parents, those crazy thoughts enter our heads and yet, love and guilt win out. We stay home, get a second on the house for a baby sitter or suck up to grandma one more time for a few hours of peace. Our desire to be the best parents we can be sometimes lacks the basics in what the most important things in parenting are. We spend all our time taxiing our little ones to baseball then flute then tai chi then reiki then the doctor for the sniffles then the old folk’s home for volunteering then the calculus tutor for your toddler. Sure little Ambrosia can play the violin like a virtuoso and order in perfect Mandarin when you hit Panda Express but are they happy?
Lee says: Compared to today’s kids, I didn’t get to do anything as a child. My mother had this weird idea that girls shouldn’t do sports and should learn to knit. My sister and I would beg to be allowed to join try out for teams but to no avail. We never really were allowed to do sports and ultimately never learned to knit either. For a parent today, my parent’s actions would be considered abusive since we were not allowed the opportunity to succeed on the playing field or in front of an audience (actually, we did take piano lessons and that led to a recital that is a funny for me but sad for my sister story for another blog).
People actually believe that all this extra education and physical activity will raise their self esteem/confidence. People think that over scheduling a child and having them be ‘well-rounded’ will help them create a sense of safety. However, the only people who can create safety for a child are the parents themselves. From the moment a baby is born, it searches out for someone or something to give it reassurance. Trust me when I say, no amount of triangle lessons will fill that need.
Nurturing is more than just giving a child food and the occasional cuddle. Creating a safe environment is more than just covering the light sockets and padding the sharp corners. Child rearing is more than taxing your blackberry calendar to the brink of explosion with activities. A good parent creates a cocoon for child where they are safe. In this space, a child can express themselves and their feelings knowing that a parent will love them no matter what. There is no need for being the best in this space just a sense of acceptance and love.
This isn’t to say that we don’t have high expectations for our kids and push them to excel in academics but they know that these things do not define who they are. We are blessed to have intelligent children. Our eldest, despite all of her specialness, is still quite bright. And regardless of her lack of sight or physical abilities, we push her to do her very best. We encourage her not to allow her ‘disabilities’ to dictate who she becomes. But at the end of the day, she is still our little Jeannie and we love her in spite of her results.
We encourage our kids to be fiercely independent but squeeze them tight when they return to us from conquering the world. No, our kids probably won’t take tap dancing and learn to play the oboe, but they will be happy and content speaking broken English even stuck to the wall with their box of crackers.
Paul says: I think that duct tape and crackers should be considered good parenting. Being able to chew your way out of a duct tape harness is a very useful skill. Trust me.