The Millennial kids are grown and flown. To preserve their anonymity I will call them: Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3. Three wonderful kids born in three years. One, two, three. Raised more or less, as a clump, and in a whirlwind of mixed emotions they are all off to college. Ready, set, go! Three, two, one. (Actually, time flies and Thing I is about to graduate.)
Two decades of nonstop unconditional love and nurturing are gone in a high speed flash, a frenzy of family fun. (True, some nights felt more like agonizing slow motion.)
How do we measure the parenting moments of hugs and tears and tantrums and time-outs? The inventory of these moments is infinite and the dividends priceless.
Perhaps in KD boxes, creative carpool snacks or ingenious science fair projects. Perhaps trips to the pediatrician, orthodontist or summer camp visiting days. Reflecting upon the past two decades of parenting evokes a flood of memories, and a rainbow of emotions. And a hailstorm of laundry.
My parenting journey has been a never-ending tug-of-war. A race against the clock; it’s a time sensitive task. Get the kids to sleep, get the kids up, and get the kids to practice, get the kids to the dinner table, get the kids ready for camp, and retrieve the kid’s forgotten navy blue hoodie from the other side of town in the middle of rush hour.
The moment they are born the clock is ticking; actually it begins prior, in gestation – we eagerly count the weeks, in labour we anxiously (understatement) count the intervals between contractions. The parenting years start to speed up somewhere along the way, and before we know it, the time to prepare them for the launch is here. The wonder years are dust in the wind. High school senioritis is upon us: prom, finals and graduation. Boom. And in lightning speed ‒ here comes college. Legally, they are not quite adults. This is when our true parenting colours show.
Wasn’t it yesterday we were teaching them to print their name, ride a two-wheeler without training wheels? Safely parallel park our family van?
Of course, there is no secret simple formula. Three kids: yields three innovative strategies to learn to ride a bike, drive a car and select a university. Let’s make no mistake about this: kids do not fit neatly into cookie-cutter patterns, at least not mine. That would be too easy and no fun. Not to mention predictable and boring.
Riding a bike:
- Back breaking support by parents with preexisting lower back pain. (Ouch.)
- Daredevil riding, smashing head-first into the pavement and spending the rest of the afternoon in emerge, getting sutured up. (Ouch.)
- Monkey see, monkey do.
- Basic negotiations between parents and child.
- No need for curfew, child is entirely self-regulating.
- Special task force needed – process requires intense negotiating.
Learning to drive a car:
- Compulsory driving lessons ad infinitum. Practicing with both parents to the point of exhaustion and tears. Cautious.
- Practice with easy-going parent only. Limited formal instruction. Cautiously confident.
- Monkey see monkey do. (Poetic license here). Confident.
University selection process:
- Visit two top choice campuses. Pick a favourite and succinctly make the decision.
- Extensive independent research on computer. Visit no campuses. Deliberate, procrastinate and make a decision. Hope for the best.
- Agonize over process. Involve the entire family and peer group. Agonize some more. Make the decision.
As parents we are all well aware, (and parenting experts remind us): keep a common front, kids (especially toddlers and teens) are clever and manipulative and they will always find a way, even the slightest crack in the system and they will wiggle through. How true. Yet, intuitively we also know that we must parent each child differently because they are in fact each one-of-a-kind wonders. Furthermore, parenting is a dynamic and complex process; it does not translate directly from a how-to manual. There really is no such thing as Parenting for Dummies. Finally, parents are human; we make mistakes along the way.
Some wisdom I wish I knew or possibly believed from the get-go.
- No matter how many kids produced by the same two parents, each one is an entirely unique package. (Don’t ever be fooled by siblings that look or sound alike.) We want desperately to mold, shape, guide, support, teach and coach our kids. Deep down they want us to listen, love, accept, support and sometimes set boundaries for them.
- Classic hindsight is 20/20. Enjoy every day and each passing phase. Parenting is to be taken very seriously, however the minutia of family life – (overcooked KD, after-school detentions and infected mosquito bites) ‒ not so much.
Here’s how it typically plays out; by the time you figure that out the above stated wisdom ‒ your kids are grown and flown!
Dear Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3: When in doubt read the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.
There is no limit to the amount of guidance and wisdom I could impart as you make your way into the world. So, I will keep it short, sweet and simple.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss
Adult Kids! Please read my texts and blogs wherein I will continue to post essential life-lessons ad infinitum.