I never understood what my parents did for me until I became one myself. The love, the protection, you don’t know the full extent until you look from the outside in. Being a selfish young man I tended to feel like the love was smothering me and the protection was them trying to suck all of the fun out of my life. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I remember being a kid and playing in a hockey tournament, out of town and my parents would bring me in a hot dog or a hamburger between periods and I would be like “It doesn’t have enough ketchup” or “Where’s the cheese, fine I’ll eat it without it” like a whiny little brat. I later found out that they would go back to the stands, watch my game and share a bag of chips for dinner. They made that sacrifice for me and all I could think about was where my stupid cheese was?!? It’s pretty ridiculous.
Now as my daughter is growing up and coming into some challenges of her own I find out just how much as parents, we carry on our shoulders. Not only the responsibility of feeding, clothing and providing them with a place to sleep, we also take on their problems. Emotionally and physically. You are changing your hat constantly and multi-tasking as well. One minute you are a private-eye, sleuthing your way through the mystery of the uneaten lunch, the next your are a handyman building a new bed, a chauffeur, a chef, a coach, a psychologist, a personal assistant, an actor, a doctor, an art teacher but most importantly a parent. All while making them a sandwich, quizzing them on their spelling test, making them laugh and shooing them out the door so they are not late for school. Now that I think of it, parenting is a lot like spinning plates, except if one of your plates falls, your kid goes to school without pants.
The cliché saying goes “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This saying may be over used, but it is so true. If you treat your kid with respect and kindness, they will become kind and respectful adults. And if you squash all your childs creativity or beat them, well guess what, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out they are going to be an asshole. Look, I know there are some exceptions to the nature vs. nurture rule, but for the most part they will emulate you. You show them how to live, you show them how to love. It is like programming a brain with a set of instructions, without a manual, that will go out and do what they think is right, based on rules they have learned. So at least make sure the instructions aren’t shitty ones, you have to at least be a good guide. Before I had a kid I asked my buddy Kevin how he kept his kids from getting hurt, physically and mentally. He looked at me and smiled, then said, knowing I wouldn’t understand “You can’t keep them from getting hurt, it’s inevitable, you just try to help them bounce less hard.” Now that I am a dad, I understand this.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for helping me to bounce less hard, and if I haven’t said it before, I understand now everything you have done for me and hope I can be even half the parents you are and impart my love and wisdom with kindness and respect, and drive my daughter bat-shit crazy, like you did to me.