Have you ever tried to raise a child “in the way he or she should go”, as I think the bible puts it? Of course it’s making reference to spiritual things in that context, but it can be applied to the following as well, especially since spiritual things are often mentioned in the form of, “Oh good Lord!” or “For the love of all that is HOLY!”
I’m speaking of the general raising of children to be valuable members of society; independent and strong, cunning and efficient – to make a difference for the American people and a betterment for the human race. I want them to salute the flag and help old ladies across the street. I want them to know I support their right to protest, but would ask them kindly not to do it while wearing a hoo-ha shaped hat.
I have two such projects at the moment for which I, along with my bride, are responsible. One is four and the other is thirteen. I will, therefore, entreat the creator for assistance by a prayerful plea: God help us!
The four year old isn’t necessarily easier in that she’s a four year old and they need a detailed daily strategy in order to handle them without losing your sanity, which will inevitably be written on with magic marker, crumpled, torn, and destroyed by 9 am so that the rest of the day is a flying by the seat of your pants kind of thing. At least with a child that young, there’s plenty of time ahead of her to figure it out. Maybe I’ll be the first parent ever to get into a groove and raise her into adolescence, through the teen years, and right into adulthood with nary a tear nor raised voice. Perhaps we can accomplish the pinnacle of parenthood whereby our daughter will understand early on that wearing clothes that actually cover her body is for her own good and if daddy has to say, “Darling, sweet, cherub dear … would you mind terribly going back to your room to change into something that doesn’t look as if you will soon be performing on a stage where the central set piece is a pole?”, she will smile like the angel that she is and say to me, “Father, whom I love and admire to the apex of my respect, I shall indeed change into the proper attire with the understanding that just because the world says tramp is the new nun, doesn’t mean I must abandon my upbringing and submerge into such a presentation. And should I approach a bridge with my peers and they bid me jump, I shall say nay. NAY, I SHALL TELL THEM!”
Maybe that’s the daughter that will brighten our house. I doubt it.
At the moment, I spend a buttload of time trying to be a good example for a thirteen year old boy who wants desperately for me to realize that he has figured out the world in all its intricacies and knows the ways of it much better than I. He attempts to make this clear by rolling his eyes and offering an exasperated sigh after the tiniest instruction, i.e. “Go feed the dog”, “Stop peeing on the toilet seat”, “Don’t bite the gift horse that feeds you before it hatches.” (And for those incensed by my use of the term buttload at the top of this paragraph, I will direct you to the mighty Google so that you may verify the origin of the term. It’s British, and therefore, admittable. It also has nothing to do with butts, British or otherwise.)
I will say that my son tries, in the way only an early teen knows how, to accomplish a task as requested once the moment of angst has passed. He likes to sleep on the couch in the living room. He insists it’s more comfortable and so we’ve allowed him to sleep there on the condition that he organizes the area when he wakes so that the living room looks like a living room and not the nesting place of a pack of hyenas – hyenas that crave potato chips and microwave popcorn. And tootsie roll pops.
One bright morning not long ago, he woke … well, let’s be honest, it’s summer, so I’ll rephrase that. One hot afternoon not long ago, he woke and left the comforter he’d been sleeping under in a pile on the floor beside the couch, so I called to him and instructed that he fold the comforter as he’d been shown and place it in the designated spot. After all, what if mother showed up unexpectedly and the living room looked lived in?
I left him to the task and when I arrived, I found this.
“Oh good Lord,” I said and shook my head while bending to pick up a naked Barbie doll that had been bound from head to toe in rubber bands. I had no idea where the rubber bands came from and I hoped in the name of my sanity that she’d not gotten her hands on some version of Fifty Shades Of Grey for toddlers. After all, you never know when the preacher is going to show up unexpectedly.
I suppose the verdict at this point is that my kids are progressing in the normal fashion for their ages and I’m aging quickly because of it.
Just keep us in your prayers, if you would. Our pocket books are becoming more feeble as the young ones grow as well and I’m told there’s only more of that to come. The teenager just started marching band.
God help us.