Monday, April 22, 2013

As Your Parent

It still comes as a bit of a surprise that I have 3 kids. I mean at this point I think I have pinpointed what causes children, but I’m still really, really astounded when I look at their little faces, thinking.. I made you.

In the craziness that comes with raising these offspring, it’s easy to lose sight of what the end game really is. It’s not potty training, or math tests, or operating your own taxi service pro bono for the kids. The end game is sending out fully developed, fully integrated members of society. As parents we are molding these beings into what we all hope are a positive edition to humanity.

Does that scare anyone as much as it scares me? Oh my God when you put it in such epic terms like that, I feel enormously unequipped for such a job.

So I’ve decided to embrace the old joke about how to eat an elephant (um.. by the way that’s just a gross metaphor. Can we agree on like, the world’s largest cookie or something?) and break this down piece by piece.

Then I realized that thus far in my parenting life.. I can only speak to the first 7 years of raising a human. But I can already see so clearly the type of attributes I want these little monsters to possess as fully grown humans.

As my kids have informed me, I have a future police officer/builder, a future mommy who feeds babies with her boobs, and a future professional eater on my hands. (I made the last one up.. he’s too little to know what he wants to be, so I picked what I feel his best talent is). This is for them.

To My Three Beautiful Children,

As your parent, I’m going to expect a lot. I’ve learned by watching other train wrecks that if your parents don’t require anything from you, you’ll end up.. well… as kind of a degenerate. You know I love lists.. so… shall we begin?

- I will be harder on you than any other person in your life. But I will also be happier, and more supportive than any other person in your life. If I think you can try harder, or be better I will not be afraid to tell you. If I recognize that your best is falling short of some goal you hope to attain, I will suppress the urge to throw money at the problem, or try failed intimidation tactics to make it happen. Sometimes, in life, there are things you will not be good at. But there is always something you will be supremely talented at, and I will try to help you find that thing.

- You will learn to feel empathy. A trait that is so scarily devoid in humanity these days. Empathy is the single greatest emotion you need to be a good human. You need to first understand that empathy is much different than sympathy, and that you then must teach those around you by your actions.

-You will behave in a classy manner, because your mother taught you better than to behave like an animal in public. You will know how to make people laugh by being witty and intelligent, comfortable by being a gracious host or guest, and you will never lick your fingers because that would offend me grievously, even if I’m not in attendance.

-You will treat elderly people with the respect they deserve. You will offer your seat in a waiting room, to hold the door at a coffee shop, and volunteer to help wherever possible. Also, you will always smile encouragingly when they want to tell you stories of days gone by, because it means so much to them, and can teach so much to you. I will tell you frequently that I would give anything to be beside my grandparents for one more story, one more funny anecdote, or one more hug.

-You will respect teachers, nurses, police officers, librarians, fast food workers, those just learning English, and basically all other human beings. If you don’t, punishment will come down on you swiftly and without mercy. There is nothing uglier than someone who show what little respect they have for others. I don’t care how cool or funny you think you are, I will cause such an embarrassing scene you will hope no one was recording it because my behavior would launch that video into viral territory.

-You will spend time with animals, taking care of them, and loving them because time with animals does so much for the soul. If you’re like your dad, you’ll feel happiest when snuggled with a dog, even while hearing how much the dog’s farts are stinking up the living room. If you’re like me, you’ll feel happiest brushing a horse even after hearing about how much you smell like horse sweat when you get home.

-You will try to be patient with your dad and I because we won’t always get you, we won’t always react how you hoped we would, and I hope that a small, teeny part of you will always know we are acting this way because we love you. Even if we go nuclear and ground you for months after you pulled an idiotic stunt, know your punishment is because we love you. Also know you can call your aunts and uncles, grandma and grandpas as much as you like to complain about us.

-You will be ridiculously good looking. Ok, well you know what I mean. Just, clean yourselves up and make a solemn vow to never, ever, under any circumstances wear pajama pants in public. I mean you are 7, 4 and 6 months and as so far I’ve never found a reason to send you into the world wearing your pajamas. Pajama days on the other hand will always be a part of our house. But, like, inside our house.

-You will be smart. I don’t care if it comes naturally, or you have to work at it, but you will always work to become more intelligent. You will read, even if it’s comic books, and you will be surrounded with such boring topics like politics and international news at the supper table. Your dad and I are first class nerds, and find it titillating to discuss books with each other, or argue political parties with such passion that we have to take a time out. You will outwardly scoff at our nerdiness, but you will understand it was to make you a more informed, educated part of society. I won’t say you have to go to University, because we all know intelligence is certainly not defined by a degree, but you will always, always yearn to know more.

-You will not listen to any of this, or some of this, or, god-willing all of this. You will be your own person that will no be defined but what we want, but rather by who you see us being. We will try our best to live up to the standards we hope you can achieve one day. You will think we are the lamest set of parents in the whole world for awhile, and then one day look back and realize that boring is so, so, so good for you. I thought my parents were the most boring two people in the entire universe as a teenager, and now I realize that boring is stable, boring is a safe haven to jump from but always a place to fall, and boring is the single best attribute our home life could be for you.



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