Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Parenting: I think I'm doing it right, actually.

Sometimes I really wonder how damaged my kids will be when they grow up because I lost my cool at how long it takes them to make faces in the bathroom mirror before they actually brush their teeth. I joke with my friends about "well, that's why you save for therapy, Amiright? Ha ha, hee hee!"
But sometimes I worry. Like at 2am, when insomnia has made me her bitch once again, and I can't seem to shut off my brain. Well, and also because my husband made me watch Inglorious Basterds right before bed, and who wants to fall asleep after that? Not me.

Anyway. Parenting. I often worry I'm doing it totally wrong. And then every once in a while, I get a little brush with how I must be doing it pretty well, at least some of the time.
Like tonight, getting ready for bed. We spent a large portion of this holiday weekend cleaning up around the house, cutting back trees and bushes, overseeding the yard. I also spent some time indoors, doing laundry, excavating my way through to the playroom, sifting through size 6x T-shirts and shorts to be handed down or tossed, etc. The boys got into the swing of it, too, and took down old stuff from their bulletin boards in their bedrooms to make way for the piles of new stuff. Stuff I had brought from the towering stack of papers that had been living in my kitchen since school was out last May. My oldest, now ten, took down a Sports Illustrated for Kids centerfold of Alex Rodriguez and gently set it aside. He shares a birthday with ARod, but that's about the only thing they have in common. The kid doesn't even play baseball.

"Buddy," I said, "if you don't want that anymore just throw it away."
"Someone might want it. Lots of kids like Alex Rodriguez."
"I know, bud, but it's from last year, he doesn't even have those stats anymore, it's obsolete."
"Mom! I bet there are lots of poor kids who don't have any posters who look up to him and would love a poster like this. I can't just throw it away!"

Just when I think nobody is looking, they are getting it. When I stop and pick up someone else's empty cup on the ground and put it in the trash, even though they don't look up from their DS game, they make some kind of mental note in the back of their brains, back behind How To Reload A Nerf Gun Magazine On The Fly. When I take them to Harvesters to sort apples, or I mention that I am serving lunch at a food kitchen, they are absorbing. When I walk out my front door with an extra leash and try and capture the neighbor's dog who has broken through a weak spot in the fence, they see me. When I tell them, many months ago, that we are going to donate an entire bin of toys to kids who don't have any, start sorting what you want to keep and what you are willing to part with, they understand. And they kind of enjoy it.

When my kids are adults, they may have some memories of me screaming at them, exasperated, to please put on their shoes and get in the car so we can make it to soccer practice, maybe only a few minutes late. Do you have your shinguards? A ball? A water bottle? No I don't know where your cleates are, they aren't mine, you are old enoughtokeeptrackofyourownshoes maybeifyouputthemawaywheretheyaresupposedtogoyouwouldn'thavethisproblem ohmyGodgetinthedamncar.

But I'm hoping that if they think of these things, they will think of them in between the doing, the acting, the loving and supporting and volunteering and being responsible that I've tried to display myself. I'm hoping my actions will linger longer, and louder, than my words.


Jules said...

Man, I hope at my house that the moments that they get it start to out weigh the other...heh :)

Great post - I'm there with you.

Heather said...

This hits the nail right on the head. Though some days I really, really wonder if ANYTHING is getting through to them!