We’ve all seen the ubiquitous bumper stickers trumpeting “I’m incredibly proud of my perfect Honor Student at Eustace B. Geddin High!” [or insert your kid’s school name here] Sometimes the whole rear bumper and window of the mini-van are plastered with them, thus proving we are not worthy to drive the same road as the owner of that vehicle and its superior occupants.
I’ve always enjoyed the more down-to-earth stickers bragging “My delinquent can beat the s*** out of your f***ing honor student!”
I think my kids may have earned an honor roll sticker or two in their time, but I don’t exactly recall. I’m proud of them without feeling the need to broadcast it. It goes without saying publicly that I love them. I do tell them I love them, but that’s for them to hear; don’t need to post it on Facebook. Most of the time I actually enjoy their company and feel more or less like they at least tolerate me.
I take a more irreverent approach to parenting. I like driving them to school on rainy days like today. I make sure and impart fatherly wisdom as they exit the car. Words to live by, like “Don’t get CAUGHT doing drugs!” Today my little nugget of advice was, “Try to act like the smart kids!” They ignore me, of course, although I sometimes see them smirk a little bit.
The truth is, however, there are days when kids, lovable as they may be, are a real pain in the ass. I know, this is not news. I just wish I could hear, once in awhile, some of the perfect and holier-than-thou parents ADMIT that their god-given blessings, their little tax deductions, sometimes screw up like normal kids do. You know, that their kid forgot a homework assignment, waited until the last minute to write a report, and/or lost something valuable like a cell phone or watch.
It was a rough day. One of my kids received a horrendous progress report. The other’s was not much better. Plus we learned that an important project deadline is Friday yet nothing had been done about it.
We lecture, we nag, we prod and harass. We are met with the rolling of eyes and the sincere “I know, I know!” replies. We lead the horses to water and cannot make them drink. We read articles on parenting and listen to the advice of more on-the-ball parents, and at the same time I am reminded of the studies that show kids past the age of 5 or so are far more influenced by their peers and factors outside the home than they are the instructions of their parents. So, while we want to blame ourselves, pull our hair and gnash our teeth when grades are slipping, the fact is we often feel, and ARE to a large extent, helpless. The kids have to do their work; I cannot do it for them.
These realizations don’t make me give up or put less effort into it, feel less love, or be less caring. They do help me worry less, because strangely and ultimately I have complete faith and belief that my kids will turn out fine and everything will be, if not perfect, pretty much all right, because we do have a lot of love, and that goes a long way and is what really matters. But give me strength in the meantime!