Modern parenting often gets knocked for being too soft. We hover too much. We reach for the band-aids too quickly. We don’t let kids roam past the electronic surveillance we installed outside. Some of that may be true and kids don’t benefit from much of that. But my challenge has been to recognize that each child is different.
Cecilia is more like me and responds to challenges and toughness. She’d do fine at Catholic school. Ally? Wouldn’t last a week. She needs more of a feather duster approach. And that’s okay.
Tough doesn’t have to mean inflicting pain or declaring martial law over vowel sounds or ten-blocks. I don’t want them to be scared to ask me for help. Or worried that I’ll be disappointed in them. Tough really means resilient and tough means teaching them, in whatever way is necessary, to push past their limits.
I want to create challenges for them, but not be the challenge.
Sun is out. Feel like I’m coming out of a strange fugue state. Could be all the leaf blower fumes or it could be…you know. If I ever get this posted, it will represent perhaps my biggest accomplishment this week. There was a lot of vacuuming and anxiety baking but little else this week. We tried to balance keeping the kids informed about what was happening and keeping our own sanity. It was like trying to tap dance on a single piece of glitter. It was exhausting.
The kids had a lot of questions. We did our best to answer them and not just let Alexa do the parenting. She is great at pretending to be ignorant and deflecting. It was interesting to try to distill down an answer and a viewpoint on a complex topic to something that both kids could understand. I think the debates could have been a lot more useful if they were held in front of a cafeteria of elementary school kids and the candidates had to do the same thing.
Enough politics, on to the couch and transfer station news.
So Cecilia won’t be graded in sixth grade and this makes me… slightly itchy. I actually think it will be very good for her but as someone that was schooled in the 80s and 90s and was pretty good at tests and rule-following it is a very different middle school experience. Add remote learning on top of that and I sometimes find myself a bit adrift as a Dad.
I find myself stuck between chastising and cheering. Yes, they need to do the assignments but if they wander off and get interested in something else along the way? If they try to figure out how to make a quick bread rise with the right leavening ratios? If they do their assignment while pretending to be filmed for their YouTube channel? It’s all good. In fact, maybe it’s better. Maybe this weird school year will let the kids roam and not crush the curiosity out of them.
Even if it makes their conventional Dad uncomfortable.
You pretty much had me at apple but add cider and donut? There was never any doubt I was going to make this recipe. Looking at the tantalizing accompanying photo, I could practically taste the dying leaves, flannel, and wood smoke. I’d likely make a few changes if I make it again but it more than lived up to the hype. Despite the sugar topping, it was not overly sweet and can be eaten throughout the day. As if I needed the excuse!
After a couple of cool weeks, the last few days have brought a bit of Indian summer to late September. Not exactly the perfect weather for apple crisp but is there ever really a bad time to whip up this dessert? It’s a great way to use up some apples when you need a quick fall dessert but don’t feel like making pie dough. It uses mostly pantry ingredients, is very adaptable, tastes great, and comes together quickly enough for a weekday dinner treat. What’s not to like.
Here is my quick, simple, tasty 7-ingredient apple crisp recipe:
School finally started up this week and I was reminded of two important Dad lessons. First, my kids are not me. They might have my genes but that doesn’t mean they love flash cards, enjoy timed multiplication tests, or enjoy the rug patterns a good vacuum session can produce. I might not totally understand my kids (will I ever?) but it’s not really fair to see them as little me’s. They like different things. They are essentially different people.
That’s not their problem. It’s my problem. Not really a terrible problem to have but just something to keep in mind when they roll their eyes at my 76th suggestion about the long term benefits of deliberate practice.
Second lesson: yelling at inanimate objects like Chromebooks or new drop-off traffic patterns is an emotional response and that type of response never made a situation better.
On to a Saturday not filled with Zooms, worksheets, or scavenger hunts during business calls…
I had a business trip this week and someone left a Sports Illustrated in the seat pocket from the previous flight which included this amazing story of Keanon Lowe whose post-playing career appeared to be going nowhere. Turns out he was right where he was supposed to be.
It’s certainly not a direct comparison to Lowe, but I do often find myself lost and befuddled in the thicket of parenting. I thought it might get easier when they could talk or wipe their own butts or take a shower. Nope. Things only get harder, often in more subtle and insidious ways.
I feel stressed, overwhelmed, cranky and lost and that’s just trying to figure out the weekly meal schedule never mind navigating the social norms of fifth grade girls. My kids make me mad and make me melt thirty-six times a days but ultimately that is just being a parent. You gotta embrace both them and the moment no matter how challenging.
The two days of travel and the break from active parenting did offer some perspective. None of us really have any idea what life has in store for us even as it breaks our hearts or keeps kicking us when we are down. We gotta remember that we are not lost, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Not by chance or providence but because by our actions and our choices we make it where we are supposed to be. Parent on, people!