Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dear sons: I wish the middle for your kids

Dear Sons:

(Letter #24)

So I've read a few things recently that reinforce the thought of how my generation and my parents' generation have absolutely hit opposite sides of the pendulum when it comes to parenting. My guess is that my mom and dad parented in a way drastically different than theirs did as well.

A recent article I read suggested that those who parented in the 60's and 70's and even 80's were entirely hands off. Kids left in the morning and didn't come home until mealtime or when the street lights came on. Parents didn't hover. The kids walked to friends houses. They rode bikes around the neighborhood. They sometimes did stupid things -- exploring where they shouldn't have been, but they learned how to problem solve. They were kind of on their own. People really didn't bat an eye when kids were left home alone for hours or sat unattended in a car while parents when in a store to shop. Supervision just wasn't that common.

And it also suggested that today's parents are much the opposite. Helicopter parents they are called. They watch their kids every move. And the moves of everyone else's kids. They call police when they spot a kid unsupervised in a car or in a park or in their own front yard. They don't believe their kids are safe walking to school or riding their bikes to friends' houses. Supervision is paramount.

How we ended up on such opposite sides is perplexing. As we grew up, we had freedom and we had independence and we survived. We didn't have cell phones back then as a means to track where everyone was all the time.

Now that generation is doing the parenting and it's so different than it was back then. As I've moved on in my parenting years, I've learned to hover less but can't imagine a world where I'd send you out to play and tell you to come home hours later when it started to get dark. And I don't necessarily believe that the world is that less safe than it was then. But I know I'd be a nervous wreck, wondering where you were and what you were doing and who you were with and why you were gone so long and if you were getting into trouble or if someone had started trouble with you or if you were lost or if you were hungry or a barrage of other possibilities.

I hope that when you become parents, life will fall somewhere in the middle. Where your kids will be able to learn about the world without you looking over their shoulders and where you'll be connected enough to communicate, yet not so much that the worry takes over the enjoyment. I wish for you that parenting will be middle ground.



Monday, April 13, 2015

Little things that make you fall in love again

We've been married for almost 24 years. It's a long time.

As time passes, the daily grind of keeping things going with work and family and home can sometimes put you in robot mode. You're doing what needs to get done and not fully appreciating everything around you.

I had a moment last night where I just felt a load of gratitude for what I have and felt so appreciative of the hubby I have.

One of our boys - the 11-year-old - is in an upcoming play. He's been on stage before, but will have more lines in this production that he's had in the past. I'd gotten a kind call from the director just letting me know that he's getting stuck during some scenes and could use some extra practice time.

My son's spent a lot of time in his room going over the script on his own and he's been going through scenes at weekly rehearsals. It wasn't quite enough. I tried over and over and over and over to get him to sit down with me and go over lines with him. I suggested that it would really help if I read him the lines of the others in the scenes and we could go back and forth. He just wasn't going for it. He's not a shy kid. I don't know what the deal was. I guess I make him nervous. I can see that. I totally don't want to do that, but I can understand it. I'm sure he'd feel pressure if we sat together to rehearse.

I thought that if he didn't want to rehearse with me there's no way he would want to with his dad. Theatre is my thing, not my husband's. I'd be out at a musical every week if I could spare the time and money. I love going to plays. I love live theatre put on by all ages.

I can't even remember the last time my husband has been to a play that wasn't at one of the kids' schools. The last closest thing we went to may have been Blue Man Group. That was about 15 years ago.

So, it shocked me when I asked my son, "Do you want to go over lines with Dad?' and he answered "yes." And then I was surprised at how well it went.

Like I said, theatre is not my husband's thing, yet he patiently sat down with the script going through scene after scene, making sure he was getting pronunciations correct and adjusting his voice based on the character. He encouraged my son to leave the room for a moment to get into character and to use props to help him recite the scenes. I would have done none of that. I would have focused on memorization. No wonder my son wanted to practice with dad rather than me. The kids have said it before and I wholeheartedly agree that dad is much cooler than I am.

Anyway, seeing the two of them together and listening to them was just so heartwarming and a reminder of what a good father he is. And it just takes me back and makes me fall in love with him all over again.

Back when they were babies and toddlers those tender moments of cuddling and him feeding them and them falling asleep in his arms were constant and easy to recognize. As they get bigger and the cuddling and snuggling is less and less, we tend to forget...at least I do. And that makes a reminder like this just so sweet.