Tag Archives: children

The Roar of Mama Bear

Okay, call me old fashioned. A dinosaur. An unrealistic baby boomer who clings to values that no longer exist.

I don’t care.

I recently sat with my daughter as we perused the local newspaper listings in search of summer camps or classes to entertain my 5 year old grandson. I’ll be blunt (as I usually am). The price of some of these so called “workshops” is highway robbery and obviously puts them out of reach of most working class families. The themes of some of these so called “workshops” makes me shudder.

Don’t get me wrong. They’re not all bad. There are a few interesting topics. For instance, a group of 4-6 year olds can attend a half day workshop for one week to learn about bugs i.e. setting up habitats, metamorphosis, caring for critters. All for the low price of $150. HUH? Go buy an ant farm at your local toy store and save some cash. At that age, ONE half day is as much as their attention span will allow.

Here’s a delightful theme. “Serving Up a Smile”. For grades 2-5. Your child can join other lucky youngsters to learn how how community service works. One week of half days is only $180. HUH? Ever heard of Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? And while they’re discovering things about their community, they’ll also learn how to tie a great looking knot or become terrific salespeople hawking their cookies.

And here’s my favorite… “Children’s Etiquette”. Ages 4-12. Your darling baby can learn manners! Imagine that. A polite child. What an interesting concept. And the description says they’ll learn it without even realizing what they’re doing! HOLY MOLY…call in the press! This is breaking news!

This is also where the curmudgeon grandmother really emerges. I find it hard to believe people will actually pay someone $215-$225 to teach their child manners. If parents can’t teach their own child etiquette, then they should sit along side them and take the class, too. Maybe the promoters have a family plan for less money.

Let me take a moment to address this with parents who are actually considering such a workshop. There’s more to parenting than a biological process. There’s a responsibility attached to bringing a child into adulthood. As parents, it is our job to make sure the little tyke is raised with ethics, morals and yes, manners.

Children do not ask to be born nor are they capable of raising themselves. They are here for the most part because of our folly or conscious decision to bring another life into the world. If you don’t like confrontation or would rather shift your parental responsibilities to someone else, I suggest practicing parenting with something that has a shorter life span. A dog, a lizard, a cat (although they can be pretty confrontational) or better yet, a pet rock.

Parenting is time consuming, thankless and will often leave you doubting your communication and decision making skills. As children develop into adolescence they become masters of emotional manipulation. And after that, especially during high school and college, they will undergo a metamorphosis similar to those bugs you paid $150 for them to study. Only this time it will be your child turning into a black hole, a bottomless pit with no end, into which you throw large sums of money that will never be seen again.

After that, if you’re lucky or blessed (as I am), you will enjoy the fruits of your labor and realize it was all worth it.

SHINEonline Blog Challenge

Advertisements

Memories

Do you ever think back to a specific moment in time that defined who you are today? I used to think about that when my children were small.

Did I say something to impact who they would become as adults? Were they influenced by my actions to the point they tried to emulate them? Did I voice my opinions and in the process mold their beliefs? Would they think otherwise if I had kept my mouth shut? Did they really decide on a spiritual or career path because it was their choosing or did I steer them in those directions without realizing it?

At what point does parenting end and allowing your children to choose their own path begin?

I was a late bloomer. I divorced at 30 from the man who took my virginity. My knowledge of life and men was severly limited. When my daughter began to date, so did I. We were dealing with sexual awareness at the same time. That can be difficult. The blind leading the blind, so to speak. People thought we were sisters and in a sense, we were.

My philosophy on parenting evolved more out of necessity than what was deemed proper. I was a single parent. I told my son and daughter we were in this together…the three musketeers’. One for all and all for one. It required maturity and teamwork to survive. From all of us.

Thankfully…luckily…because I’m not sure good parenting skills were involved…my son and daughter are smart, savvy, well balanced individuals. They are both great parents. They love. They share. They are everything I wanted them to be.

As a family, we like to say we put the “fun” in dysfunctional. My children are my life’s best accomplishment. We managed to transcend the parent-child relationship as they grew into adulthood with a wonderful friendship based on respect, love and mutual agreement that life is not this pre-designed, mass produced idea of who you should be. Being an individual and marching to your own tune (within reason) is not only acceptable but can set you apart in a good way. Just like honesty, ethics, moral values and compassion can define that internal barometer callled a conscience.

My kids didn’t have the breaks that two parent, wealthy, secure families enjoyed. I falsified my son’s birth certificate when he was 15 so he could get a job with a company who insisted they could not hire anyone under 16. But on the flip side, when most of their friends were partying all night, my high school children had curfews that were strictly enforced. When their friends were sitting in front of Nintendos playing games all day, mine were hiking in the Arizona desert. Wilderness camping with a single mom who knew how to live off the land and could shoot any predator that threatened her young…two legged or four legged. While the father of my son’s friend went golfing, I took the boys fishing and camping. Another time, I sat cross legged on a blanket in the living room having a “carpet picnic” with my children because it was too cold outside to go anywhere. We went to museums. We attended festivals and celebrated diversity. We pondered various topics, researching what we didn’t understand until we each formulated an opinion and could share it (but not necessarily agree with the others). We debated instead of argued. Okay, we argued a little but it forced us to adopt compromise.

I cannot say my parenting skills mirrored what was appropriate for that time period. I refused to be this disciplinarian who enforced rules based upon the fact that I was the parent and that was reason enough. I allowed my children to plead their case. Sometimes I relented and agreed with them. Sometimes not. Sometimes they respected and accepted my decision. Sometimes not.

Along the way, however, a miraculous thing occurred. They evolved into adults I liked and respected, not just because they were my children but because of who they strived to be.

They are better than me. I don’t know if it has anything to do with how they were raised or just good genes. I had incredibly wonderful parents so I’m sure bloodline helps.

Today, however, I’m just proud they call me Mom and still enjoy my company. Guess that makes me one of the lucky ones.