I’ve always maintained that this parenting thing is tricky. Scott and I were 30 and 27 respectively with our first kid. And like most first time parents, except for those who take the classes, and child proof months ahead, and blend all their own food, and judge me!, we had no clue. It was literally, you keep him alive from 6-3, then me. Through the years, almost 16, we’ve gotten pretty good. We are on the same page about the kids. We just want to raise kind conscientious kids who want the best for themselves. That’s it. With school, we just want them to work to their fullest potential, and if they do that, we have told them, the grade doesn’t matter.
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So when one of my kids came home and told me they received an 89 on the test, my immediate response was, “What did you miss to not get the A.” My kid looked at me, tears in their eyes. And then knife went in deeper, “And I was really proud of myself, it was a hard test.”
Oy. What is wrong with me? I should have said, “great job.” Because it was. But these days, we are all guilty of expecting so much from our kids. We are part of this new movement of you have to get into a good college or you’re fucked. I’m not sure when getting into college became the impossible dream, but there is a problem when our elementary school kids are talking about where they want to go. If my kid is home relaxing, I remind them that someone else’s kid just invented a robot that feeds the dog. If they express interest in anything, I feel the urge to tell them, start a club. (Ooh. Idea. Start an outreach program for kids seeking refuge from high pressure parents. The club will offer unlimited x-box and photo enhancement classes for instagram posts.)
I didn’t think about college until junior year. I was well rounded, but I had a social life, and some free time to tan and smoke clove cigarettes.
Now, we as parents feel guilty if our kids are not busy 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have thought when my kid is in the bathroom too long, “does he need a laxative? Could he be wasting precious studying time in there? Of course I want my children to grow into successful adults, and continue on go to a great school, but I also don’t want them to be so stressed out that they fail to enjoy this precious time. Cause it goes quick!! [One day you are enjoying two McDonald’s cheeseburgers and a large fries with your girlfriends, laughing, having a great time, driving to the beach, and the next you are staring at high school girls at the beach, not understanding how your boobs never looked like that.]
So I had a parenting fail. I can’t beat myself up about it. I have had many. Like when I told Julia I thought her fringe shirt looked good. But I need to stop hearing the outside noise and stay true to the philosophy I started with. I will raise kind conscientious kids. I will be proud of their efforts and accomplishments, big and small. I will listen to them, no one else, about what they want to do, what is important to them. I will of course guide them, but I won’t force them to do things they don’t want to do.
And really, as long as their college colors look good on me, does anything else really matter?