Thursday, March 27, 2014

No More Wandering, Cause I'm Not Lost

This piece…

…from the New Yorker has been everywhere this week because it is, you know, perfection.

Having been a parent for exactly five-and-a-half years this week, I've been through countless iterations of the "new must-have parenting system!!!!" 

I've been told:
  • Be a TIGER MOM and your kid can go to Juilliard on a harpsichord scholarship! AT AGE NINE!!!!
  • Don't be a HELICOPTER MOM! Let your kids roam wild like we used to when we were young! You are stifling those young folk through your obnoxious insistence on safety gear!
  • FEAR the unrelenting terror of the BOOMERANG CHILD who moves home after college --- JOBLESS! If this happens it will be YOUR FAULT and society will judge you even as your reprobate offspring steals pieces of that pizza you and your husband thought you ordered JUST FOR YOURSELVES!
  • Practice ATTACHMENT PARENTING and save your offspring from the deep psychological scars that will result from your overwhelming desire to, you know, put them down sometimes!!!
  • CHICKEN NUGGETS??? For God's sake, woman -- are you not aware that at this very moment young children IN FRANCE are sitting down to a delicious 9pm meal of smoked octopus for the simple reason that their parents ESCHEW SNACKING???
It can get a little, you know, overwhelming. 

The truth is that most responsible people want to do important jobs well. It is also true that most of us are responsible people. It is even further true that raising children, as important jobs go, is way up there. But it's not a job quite like becoming a doctor, which takes years of schooling followed by residency training. Or becoming a lawyer, which takes intense study, the results of which must be proven by passing the bar exam. 

Becoming a parent takes, you know, getting laid one time, and then 9-months-later someone hands you a precious infant and tells you to care for it into adulthood. Oh, and please don't have it turn out to be crazy or annoying or a drain on society.

And, having no idea how to do that one is tempted to think,

"OK - there must be someone out there who has already figured this thing out!" 

"Perhaps they have answers for me as to how to stop this creature who has now invaded my peaceful home from doing all this screaming and peeing and tantruming and biting and OMG did you just put my shoes in the toilet????"

Such questions are asked with all good intent, but all too often this proves to be the first step on a road of crazy that finds one attempting to parent like a Maori tribeswoman one week and like an authoritarian Tudor monarch the next. 

So I'm taking a break from all parenting advice which arrives in magazine article/internet-forwarded form. If I need practical help with things like potty training or educational options I may call an experienced mom for advice, but other than that I'm boycotting articles that promise to hold the key to ultimate child development.

More accurately I guess you could say I'm adopting MY OWN parenting philosophy and I invite you to join me. I call it the "Glinda and Dorothy" mode of parenting. 

Sure, I may feel tempted to wander to far off lands to unlock the secrets of how to raise my children best, but the parenting my children actually need from me?

I'm going to try to remember that it's been inside me all along.