Of course being 7.5 months pregnant I think often about how I want to raise my son. A few weeks ago we were out to breakfast and saw a mom pick up their child and then watched as the child began to smack, hit, and just go crazy on the mom. I was shocked. Of course I said to Chris “Our child will never act like that.” And — I meant it. First of all, if my kid acts out I will take them outside. I do not care if it is rainy or beautiful out, I would want to take them out of the situation and discuss further. It might even mean making the choice to leave the restaurant. There is absolutely no reason to watch a child loose control and beat the crap out of his mom. Something is not right in that scenario. Those of you who are already parents think I might live in a dream world, but let me tell you, my father might have scared the crap out of me, but I knew how to behave.
So that little rant was about the kids misbehaving, but what about parents? I just read an article about a dad who was mocked for his son loving a custom play kitchen. Now, I will tell you I have not discussed this with Chris, and so he might not agree with me — but I would love for my son to have a play kitchen. Why you might ask? Chris is the chef in our family and he is a damn good one. He does not look at it as the wife’s job. He looks at it as art. He loves his time in the kitchen and from the taste of a dish, to trying something different, right down to how he displays the final product on a plate. Now that does not mean there are nights that it does not feel laborious to him, but he loves his kitchen and I stay out of the way. Why would I do anything to keep my son away from that? Why would he spend his childhood watching his father in the kitchen (and hopefully interested enough to want to join him) and then tell him he cannot have his own play kitchen?
What has this world come to? Cooking is an art and it is not just for women. If I was the one in the kitchen we would eat like crap — just ask Chris. I have no patience, I cannot time things right, and really have no interest. Chris has the patience, loves it, and I know he will have the patience to teach our son as well. My job will be teaching him how to bake. Yes, I will.
I loved this comment from the dad in the article:
“As far as my comment on if he wants to play with a barbie doll…again, let me stress this. HE IS 2. I have seen him get excited and play with a broom. Ya’ll need to chill. Kids are going to play with what they want, and if you try to prevent them from doing something as harmless as playing with the toy they want to play with, they are going to end up resenting you.”
So damn true. Let them play with what inspires them. I would much rather my son paint, get dirty, play in the kitchen and use his mind then be mesmerized behind a video game and develop no social skills whatsoever.
There is a lot of my childhood I do not remember. Since my parents are no longer around it is hard to know what I was truly like as a baby, toddler, or even as I got older. Was I quiet, or sassy? Did I talk a lot? What was I like with my parents? Did I like to cuddle? I think about all of these things as I begin to think about the little boy who is going to join our family in around 10 weeks.
I have no idea if I got excited to see my parents when they came home from being away. I do remember we had three large picture windows in our front room (filled with plants) but still giving me access to look out the window at the trash truck, or my dad’s pickup truck arriving home. This video I found recently brought a huge smile to my face. While my house is not designed for a visible window/door to the driveway/garage, I hope regardless my son gets just as excited to see me.
I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.
You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.
Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).
This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.
While not an avid, nightly, Daily Show with Jon Stewart watcher, I enjoyed watching him from time to time. I barely have the time to watch the few shows we do DVR, so adding a nightly show to the mix is not in the cards for us. In any case, the man is an inspiration and is hilarious. I am sad to know his show is over. In all the pleas from his fans to not end his show, I came across this quote:
“The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something.” – Jon Stewart
Ah, well put, Jon. Well put. I love it. I am a fan of saying something — always. I am that person that 99% of the time is going to call you out on your bullshit. Why live life without being honest, transparent, and authentic? That does not mean it is always easy for me. Most of the time if I do not say something it eats away at me. While I am not yet a parent, I know all the times I have been told by my own parents, or in childcare situations, that if you let kids get away with something and you let time pass then the teaching moment is over. In most cases I agree. However, what matters most is that you say something.
Be it your spouse, your friend, a family member we so often let things sit inside and agonize over them. We get frustrated, we get angry, and often if we were just open and honest with the other person it resolves itself. They might respond by telling you how grateful they are for your transparency, they might be angry (and really that is their thing to work out), or they might even laugh at you thinking how absurd that such a thing bothered you. Whatever the result, it is good to get it off our chests and not let it fester inside.
Thank you, Jon, for your wisdom and for making us laugh for the past 16 years.
I am not sure my parents really prepared me for all the curveballs that life has thrown at me starting at an early age. In some ways the curveballs have made me incredibly agile to which way to swing, when to duck, and when to let the ball pass right by me. That does not mean that all that movement and reaction is not exhausting, and it also does not mean that I have always reacted, or presented myself in the best of ways. I have high standards and expectations at work and in my personal life. Maybe my dad overly ingrained in my head: “Do it right the first time.” Now to me that does not mean only try once and get it right the first time. What it means in my mind is give it your all and keep at it until you get to where you are going.
“We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can control how we react to it. As we do, maybe we come closer to a meaningful life than any plan could ever take us. To do this, though, we have to let go of what we think we deserve and embrace what is, which just might lead to something better than we could have imagined.” Page xxvii
The part I love about the above quote is about letting go and letting ourselves be lead to something better than we could have imagined. While I have high standards I also have witnessed how taking a step back and listening to intuition allows for life to sometimes fall into place.
I will give you a tiny morsel from my day on Monday. All morning things kept changing — meetings moved, deadlines shifted, and when I tried to unravel it all it was just horribly frustrating and time-consuming. I kept (as often happens) getting pulled into other things and dealing with requests and the thought that came to me during it all was: ‘Let it go. you will figure it out later… as messed up as it all happens to feel right now.’ Later in the day when I had a moment to look at the mess, each conflict and deadline had actually all moved again and all the things I would have had to unravel were put in a place that worked out. I did not have to do anything other than respond to a few emails and accept moved meetings. No rearranging needed. Now — that does not mean that I think you should procrastinate or that my morsel of happenstance from Monday will occur all the time. What I honed in on from Monday is that I listened to my intuition to let it go for that time and it all worked out.
That is just a small moment in time. Think about what can happen if we let go more often, for the small and the large events in life, and let things naturally be designed in front of us. Somehow the universe has a way of bringing color, hope, and a graceful design that often surpasses what we can imagine for ourselves.