Lately, my Facebook page has been a barrage of articles about parenting.
Many of my friends have babies and toddlers, so this information is prime realty on the map of mothering. However, my children are young teens, and by the time little people reach double digits, they seem to fall off the blogosphere until they are full-fledged adolescents. And, then everything is about sex, drugs, navigating racial profiling if you’re Black or Latino, immature grown-up behavior and silent tears still coming from women who ask themselves, between each teen tantrum, “What am I doing wrong?”
Dads should be crying too. They should be asking themselves, “Why was I born male, seemingly ill-equipped to handle any of these things that women do, but when I try, society either makes me look like a dunce or someone in a same sex relationship when actually?”
Parents are never doing anything wrong unless it is teetering on abuse. How do you know? You don’t, unless the cops show up at your door. Otherwise, you’re just feeling your way in the dark hoping not to accidentally grope something. Go on, keep agonizing over missed cute “photo opps” or forgetting to cut the apple juice with water. You will become the parent you feared and your children will temporarily hate you, unless you are abusing them, then they will never speak to you again.
Take heart, all that parenting is a lesson in mindfulness. Pretend that you are forever in kindergarten and know nothing, and that you will soak up everything like a playful sponge.
I read somewhere that someone said that children are your spiritual teachers.
I repeated this to someone so they wouldn’t feel guilty about not attending church one Sunday. I share this with you, so you can also be like Jesus and not judge.
There will be many times for judgment and guilt to rear their fuggly heads. Don’t waste them on the erratic infant and toddler years. When your child or children turn twelve, here are some things to be mindful of:
1. Kids love to chide your body. They will point out fat knees, gray hair and belly bulge. They are not teasing you out of love. They are really disgusted by anything fatty. When they were younger, you trained them to keep those thoughts to themselves when they ratted out strangers in the grocery store out loud. They seem to forget that and are much more concerned with comparing themselves to you—it’s okay. They need to get a good visual of where they could be in 30 years.
2. By this point, it’s safe to yell at your kids and talk about it with others. You can do it publicly and people passing by will nod in solidarity.
3. You can be both cool and annoying at the same time—same goes for your children.
4. That sex talk really is the scariest thing you will ever encounter.
5. I should also add that the sex talk is one of several you’ll need to keep re-visiting and adding details where appropriate.
6. One more thing about sex. They will realize that you do it and it will become one more thing about you that repulses them.
7. Remember that sweet thing they used to do every night before falling asleep? You don’t? I don’t either.
8. You’ve dreamt of the day when your kids and you could discuss something on a meaningful, grown-up level. Swearing does the trick, not swearing at them (though that will slip out once in a while), but swearing with them for emphasis sake.
9. Honestly, you need to let them listen to the music that makes you cringe because it’s too this and that. Just the other day, my daughter and I were singing this hip-hop song by Lil Wayne. In the midst of the crooning, I turned to her and said, “You do realize what he’s talking about, right?” She said, “Oh yeah, mom, I know.” We kept rockin’ out.
10. Seriously, by age eight, your children should know and understand these words and be able to use them in complete sentences: racism, sexism, oppression. These three words are the most misused words in the English language, and as a parent, you get to define them for your children.
11. Embarrassing things can happen when you don’t heed number 10. Like when a college buddy of mine was in the car with close a family friend and their children. Her skin was smooth and rich black—kind of like dark chocolate. So much so, that the children licked her arms because they said she certainly must taste like M&Ms or dirt.
12. Don’t be so overly sensitive about your daughter reading non-intellectual, but conscientious, chick literature—with Judy Blume posers abound. Also, don’t be alarmed when you find out that your girl has started writing her own version of erotic fan fiction. This may be an unintended result of advice number 5, 9 and the Twilight series.
13. Boys go from non-verbal murmurs to high-pitched feminine voices, to Bobby Brady cracking and back to non-verbals. If you ask a question, expect a grunt.
You can read almost every night to your child, potty train them by age 2.9, never allow high fructose corn syrup in your house and sign them up for sports or activities multiple times in a season. They could still have problems reading on grade level or not be into reading altogether because it’s not their thing. They will eat things in school and at their friend’s houses you’ll never know about.
God forbid, your kid actually watches several hours of TV a day on the laptop and TV you are too busy to check because, g*ddammit, you’ve told them several times to do their homework and can’t they just understand that you can’t keep holding their hand because you have work to do and you’re effing tired of yelling all the way upstairs.
Take a deep, cleansing breath like you learned in your birthing classes, but don’t go as fast.
I’ve purposely skipped over the elementary school years because they are a bit like toddler hood part deux. You will do everything you’re doing now, just bigger and for more people to witness and to stare at confusingly. Don’t worry, everything is turning out as planned. It may not be your plan, but at least you know you are fulfilling your spiritual doodie—I mean, duty.
Judith Ellen enjoys writing about herself in the third person because talking about herself using the “I” seems a bit too reductive. She pretty much writes stuff about which she is passionate, excited, and occasionally indignant. This means that if you cross her, expect to see your *name* as the subject of her rant in the next blog. Just sayin’. Check out her street cred at www.transcendconsulting.org
Editor: Maja Despot
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