I blather all the time on social media and a few people have suggested that I write a book. That’s obviously not going to happen; not because I’m too lazy to devise a structure and follow through on the writing of chapters but because books are passé and I only do things in the vanguard. I’m told that blogs are the next big thing, so here we are.
Those who are subjected to said social media blathering are well (painfully?) aware that I have two children, Lucy and Nora, ages seven and five (I list them by senoirity to avoid the awkward questions about unconscious prefrence that could ensue otherwise). They are incredible and incredibly diffcult and like any parent I am certain that when they are not hanging the moon they are plotting to put me in a mental institution so that they can lay claim to both Ipads in the house with impunity (one day they come to visit me. overjoyed, I sprint to the plexiglass in my white pajamas and slippers and fumble for the phone. they pick up on the other side and say, loudly, “can we buy a game?”). And like any parent I am delusional as regards their greatness.
All of us who have spawned believe that we have been charged with something solemn and awesome and weight-of-the-world worthy in shaping these formidable lumps of clay we call Sam or Sally or Gunther or Li Jing. And we spend endless hours worrying about how we carry out this charge; how can we possibly fulfill the galactically important task of raising a child when SO MUCH is at stake? We’re scared shitless of dropping the ball (this begins quite literally for a lot of people with a fear of dropping the baby).
The hand-wringing is famous: my kids should do (soccer, hockey, karate, yoga), they should learn (Chinese, Spanish, cooking, baby calf CPR), no-no-no they need quiet time, no wait I read somehwere that they need to play more, yes let’s set up playdates, no maybe the article was about solitary play I can’t quite recall — cancel all playdates!, let’s work on their handwriting, Siri find me a drama camp that teaches method acting, Tommy should be sneezing at a fourth-grade level, are there any tricycle triathalons this Fall?
All of it is easy to mock but also very easy to get caught up in. It often feels like we should have a PHD in parenting, and it’s possible that we’ve lost the art of just getting by. We’ve trampled all over the beauty of minimal expectations.
I don’t know if my daughters will excel at sports or sit on the Supreme Court or rule the roost at Julliard. I have no clue if their shelves will tilt precariously under the weight of trophies and medals. Hell, I don’t know if thye’ll even obtain that piece of paper which seeems to have displaced a mortgage as the totem of the American dream: a college degree.
But I’m liking their odds of not being assholes.
Maybe that’s the stress we should place on ourselves. Maybe the magnitude of our responsibility shouldn’t derive from how outstanding we can make them, but how “sure, that’ll do” they can be.
Is that a parenting philosophy that will sell a lot of books? Probably not. Hard to envision people lined up around the block so the author of “10 Steps To Avoid Shithead Kids” can sign their copy.
And is this is a schmaltzy, oversimplified and incrdibly naive worldview? Absolutely. This whole thread reads like a drunk “One To Grown On”.
But try this on for size. As you settle in for sleep tonight, don’t worry about the legibility of their spelling homework or how many times they struckout in Little League. Ask yourself, “was my kid a dick today?”.
Okay, fine. “Was my kid a dick to somone other than me?”.