Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When did parenting start?

I am visiting my #2 son this weekend. He is making his third attempt at college. So far so good. This time he had to work through two semesters getting good grades to prove he was serious. Now he is admitted as a degree seeking student. Makes a parent happy:)

This is my tree hugging, friend of the earth, protector of the meek and small, part time vegetarian kid. He looks like Goliath, with the heart of a butterfly. He acts like a turtle. Moves slow and at the slightest sign of trouble, pulls in all fours and his head and waits for the perceived threat to pass. If you move him, he will pee on you. You get it, a turtle.Any obstacle in his path could lead to years of pondering what to do before action.
This he did not get from me, I am thinking. As his Mom, I love him and accept him for who he is. Understand him, now that's a different story. He is, and we are together, a work in progress.Somehow I thought the surroundings he would be living in would be brighter, cleaner, and somewhat more organized. No, not yet. That will come with time. Right now it looks like something from a pizza commercial for 20 somethings. Yuck.

So I am writing about parenting. In the old days, you just had kids, they popped out, you raised them. Now it is all about the fine art of parenting, being developmentally savvy and proactive in your approach to your kids. Add some guilt and a few hard earned bucks, and you are a modern parent. The conversations are an endless query of how did we do what we did at their age??? Why don't they grow up faster?? How did we let this happen? Will they return to the nest, and will we let them?

I have had this conversation many times in the last five years or so, as my children have made their fledgling flight from the nest. Others bemoan the fact that their children are once again on the parental payroll after going bust in this economy. Some are disappointed regarding their inability to cut the umbilical cord. That inability goes for the parent and the child. Some have taken to raising their grandchildren when the unions their children have made dissolve. It's a mess.

Parenting can be learned. I know, I went to school for it. Oklahoma State University Child Development Labs required any parent sending sonny or sissy to their daycare had to attend classes. Not bad, saved me from killing myself a couple of times when the kids were tots. They knew children and insisted that we did too. Fast forward fifteen years. They did not do this when the kids were teens. I was forearmed. I collected a stack of books in anticipation for their adolescence. Looking back, it was a great time, and I still enjoy teens. They are easy for me to understand.

Young adulthood came as a surprise..I thought I was done. Out of the house you go! Have a nice life. I am sandwiched between my mother's comments about how can I let "him" spend $4 on coffee and the puppy dog eyes of the kid needing something? This is a no win situation. Since they passed the 18 year old speed limit, they are more or less on their own. The success or failures they have are their own. I get to sit back and  (1) worry (2) relax (3) bask in their accomplishments (4) die of embarrassment when they do stupid stuff.

I was listening to NPR recently when they quoted a study showing the mental and physical health of parents suffered when they had one child they described as "struggling". It did not make any difference if they had a dozen more they decided were "doing well". This was decided by the parents. SO  I decided I am not going to let my health suffer. I would re-frame my children as "doing well". Nobody is an axe murderer, so far they have not tried to move in with me, I'm good. I can feel my blood pressure leveling out.....NOT.

So its back to the drawing board for me. Each one of my kids is unique and the lessons learned with the first one are not translating into an easy ride with the second. So I will bungle my way though their young adulthood. Perhaps there are more books out there for this one. Come to think of it, my mother is still learning with me:)

Until next time.............

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