I’m kidding. I have no idea if I’m doing it right. We are all just winging it, right? We are an amalgamation of influences; our own parents, our friends’, social, educational, environmental. We just sandwich all that shit together and hope for the best.
Part anxiety, part regular ol’ parenting; each night I rehash all of my parental instructions of the day. I question all of it. Did I give enough context? Did I give an example, was my tone too harsh? Did I come across bat-shit crazy?
I stew. And stew. Some nights the pot is just a broth and other nights I can’t get the lid on.
Buried in all the questions is an informal answer (or maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better). If I’m thinking so much about how I raise them then I must be doing it right. Right?
The other night was like a roman candle. The kids were disagreeable, as per usual, about dinner plans. We narrowed it down and our first choice was closed. We walked across the street to another joint, I read the kids the menu items and my oldest says “I don’t want anything, I will just eat at home.”
What? You have GOT to be shittin’ me! No.
Roman candle had been lit.
I was silent (because silent is scarier than words sometimes). We left. And they knew I was pissed. It was nearly 30 minutes of attitude and disagreements leading up to our restaurant exit. We got home and I half fixed them dinner, sat them down and unleashed. No rage. I did have the volume up but I wasn’t yelling. I felt defeated and they were going to know about it.
I have good kids. And I’m not just saying that. They are good kids. They have manners, they are kind.
But then they come home and they argue with one another, boss each other around, talk back to me, disagree with me, ignore me, throw attitude at me, and on and on and on. And (as a friend explained) it’s because home is where the unconditional love is, they can relax here so the pressure of their day seeps out.
Yesterday was a ‘coming to Jesus’, not the first and not the last. We (I) talked at length regarding our actions and how they speak louder than words…
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
–Ralph Waldo Emmerson
It’s a big concept so I broke it down.
My example? Love.
I painted two pictures. One was of our regular mornings – wake ups with hugs, asking about how they slept, fixing breakfast, chatting about the day ahead, fixing their lunch, complimenting their outfit choices, hugs and kisses and positive words to kick the day off before I head out. The other was a morning without the actions of love – I would turn on the light, say “I love you” and leave for work. The end.
It will stick for a day or two and we will have to revisit it a thousand times.
Knowing it will need to be revisited and delivering it time and time again. That’s when you know you’re doing it right. When you never give up or give in.