There are some days I think I’m wiser than others, when it comes to parenting.
Now, that is a pretty loaded sentence. So, I must follow it by saying I honestly have no clue what I am doing when it comes to ‘parenting’ my children. I’m doing my best and yes, this is probably the last time I can openly admit that in these newspaper pages. My eight-year-old is now an avid reader and it’s just a matter of time before he lays aside the funny pages and actually reads his mother’s words. Truthfully, his sister will probably seek my words first as she is the more ‘inquisitive’ one of my duo.
Often times I laugh off parenting decisions with, “I’m sure they’ll need therapy for that one.”
It’s funny and in some cases probably true. Therapy seems to be very popular among my generation and the ones which follow behind me. When I was younger I knew of ‘Therapist’ as an occupation, but not many of my friends’ parents or mine used one. Sure there were a few, but not nearly as common as today. After all that was Bob Newhart’s job, right?
As I’ve shared here before, I am constantly learning from my children. Parenting them is no picnic, but it’s not supposed to be. I am, however, grateful for the presence of mine enough to often take it all in and learn a lesson or two for myself.
This came most recently at the hands of the Annual Science Fair.
Confession: I hate the Science Fair. Yes, I admitted it. Please pick your chin up and continue reading.
I love that our schools offer this opportunity for our children, be it the science minded or the simply curious pupil. It’s an amazing experience for our students and I am extremely grateful that they still have this opportunity.
With that being said, I must add my degree is in Merchandise Marketing. I’m a Fashion Buyer, turned Newspaper lady. I’m analytical in the way of numbers, I’m far from scientific.
However, since (I believe) God has an amazing sense of humor … he blessed me with a ‘science kid.’
My oldest is in second grade and yes, this was our third year as participants of the OJUSD Science Fair. Notice I used the word ‘our’? Being completely truthful, as much as I look forward to the day that it’s ‘his’ project - we’re just not there yet.
This year, I tried to coax and teach my eight-year-old scientist to do ‘a little extra.’ He was getting older and expectations of the Second Grade scientist would indeed be a bit higher than the previous years.
I am a believer of losing. I think our most valuable lessons come at the hands of a loss. Losing not only keeps us humble, but reminds us that there is always someone out there just as hungry or more so.
So, instead of insisting my son do more I let him make the decision on what would be ‘enough’ in the way of his project. He felt he had completed the check list and the requirements as stated. While I knew better, this needed to be a lesson.
Long story short, this was the first year he did not find the word ‘Award’ on his project on the Night of Scientists.
As his mom, I expected disappointment and being the child he is … he proved me wrong. He admired the work of his fellow second graders. Marveled at the friends chosen for ‘County’ and read each and every second grade entry to his five-year-old sister. He had no desire to journey around and look at others (as much as I tried). He was proud of his work and wanted to share his discovery with interested attendees.
The lesson for me, came later.
What I have come to realize is simple: Every parent should go through therapy before having children. Now, I’m not a professional in human behavior by any stretch of the imagination. However, at the hands of my son I continue to learn more and more not to make my ‘issues’ his issues. In other words, if ‘winning’ was the ‘be all end all’ for me as a child that does not mean it will be the same for him. We are all different and dance to the beat of our own drummer. He just simply loves science as I did dancing in my bedroom or singing to my record player. It’s not about the reward for him, it’s about feeding his curiosity. The rest could just be viewed as a bonus.
As parents, I think the way we may serve our children best is to take introspection at times. It benefits us all, when we take the time, step back and truly think is this ‘their problem?’ or mine.
In the end it’s all about the growth and the learning … for us both.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager 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.