Parenting is tough.
As I typed those words this morning, I recognize that I will likely say them, think them or yes, even write them some seven million times throughout the course of my lifetime.
New parents (those with littles) heed warning; the word “lifetime” is placed there on purpose. As my duo grows older, it becomes more apparent that this parenting deal does not get easier. Equally so, as I watch friends send theirs off to college or move them cross country to seek employment opportunities I see it more and more, they’re always our babies.
Just as I am to my mother, who struggles at times as she watches me parent my own and endure much of what that means.
Truth be told, it is indeed the single most rewarding, yet exhausting job I have ever been gifted and I would not trade that for the world. But again, parenting is tough.
One of my biggest lessons, as of late, is my need to “land the helicopter” so to speak. I’ve always been what I like to call an “involved” or “hands on” parent. Quick to help guide my children on how to be a friend, study habits or life lessons.
What I came to recognize most recently however, as the parent of a 10- and 13-year-old is they can use a little less of this in some areas of their lives. Guidance and advice are never a bad thing, allowing them to navigate a bit of this on their own however is not just good for them, but necessary.
Kids are mean. That has been my mindset since the first grade when my son’s fingers were slammed in a bathroom door intentionally by a couple of “friends.” Being innocent and kindhearted he had no idea it was on purpose. Gratefully his teacher reached out and shared in confidence her concern as she recognized his inability to see what we both knew.
That’s the beauty of the young right? Their zest for life, their trusting and unjaded souls. But kids are mean.
Today they have the ability to take a classmate to their knees with a simple social media post, or quick “snap” as they Snapchat.
But I must land the helicopter.
Even as I type this, it’s hard for me to fathom. What I recognize however is those influences; those tools which can be used for harm as well as good will continue to plague our youth well into their adult years. Heck, even today I see grown women passively aggressively sharing things via these forums to get at people they are at odds with. It’s a crazy time to be a parent, let alone a human, yet here we are.
As I slowly prepare to take my aircraft to the ground, I recognize that communication between my children is more important now than ever before. Doing my best to not be naïve myself, I also recognize said communication is not likely to happen in the traditional sense of a car ride, dinner table or while watching a favorite family show. The real stuff, the stuff which troubles or befuddles them seems to come more freely when sharing space which puts them at ease or free. A simple walk for one, a bike ride or window shopping trip with another and casual conversation. Non-threatening, open-hearted, non-judgmental conversation is perhaps one of the best things I’ve found thus far.
With that said, make no mistake; I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I recognize there are parents of older children reading this, shaking their head and mumbling “good luck with that.” To that I simply say Thank you. I’m upfront and honest with my duo. They know I’m just as clueless on parenting as they are on their current season of childhood, yet together we’ll navigate through it.
Ultimately, helicopter or not, that’s what we recognize and appreciate in our family – we’re a team. We may not be the team to place first, third or even last, we will however, be the team to finish just as we started – arm in arm looking to support one another to the bitter end.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.