The whole of anyone’s child rearing programme should be able to be articulated in plain language in no more than three steps. Mine are:
- Mold your child into the kind of kid you would want to be stuck in an elevator with.
- Practice at least 35% of what you teach so that you can lead by example (from time to time).
- Let children develop at their own pace, unless they seem way behind other kids their age, in that case go see a specialist, or if your kid is super advanced remember that they’ll even out eventually, unless they don’t – you might have a super human on your hands… or super villain! Sweet fancy, how would I tell? And if so, would we want to move to a dormant volcano? What about eating right and exercise, not to mention saving for college? Those don’t fit in here, what kind of idiot limited me to three bullet points…
As you can see, the result is rambling nonsense and poorly organized, far-reaching arguments (keeps the kids guessing). This is similar to the answer to any parenting question (keeps parents guessing). The simplest questions are answered as a psychology theorem, in the form of a zen koan, sung as an Italian operetta. You are certain there is good information in there somewhere, but it’s just out of reach. Or understanding. It was “yessy” but colored a bit “no-ish.” The lesson I take from this is that the point lies more in the concern and action of your dilemma and less in the correct response. This relieves a great part of the burden of not ruining your child.
I’m often a man of and a man in favor of bold, decisive action. That includes simple to-the-point straightforward answers. Occasionally I will issue one of these booming edicts when The Spouse poses a question: bedtime is 7:30, no more candy, help me decorate this dormant volcano, etc. I’m able to make these decisive strokes calmly while avoiding all subtext and second-guessing because I know most choices are so similar that they don’t matter, so long as you make one. We all want what’s best for our kids, why else would we drink at t-ball games? It’s to numb us (partially to the fact that we are watching t-ball) to the tingling sensation of the police taser as I fight with the umpire (that kid was SAFE!). There is an instinct deep within each parent that is ravenous for our offspring to thrive, and to clear a path for them to grow even though we can’t entirely guide them down that path. But I digress, we all want what’s best for our children, and I’ve come to the realization that children, no matter how rabid your desires or grandiose your plans, get a say in any choice you make.
Like where to put the science beams in her dormant volcano hideout.