I Should Learn a Lot From My Kid

My children never cease to impress me. Lovely Daughter is, of course, everybody’s Golden Child. One of her professors has called her a “model student for the rest of the campus” and wants to clone her. I have informed Lovely Daughter that all clones of her belong to me, since the original material is mine. Really, I just want all the clones because I can never get enough of LD, and I have a selfish streak when it comes to my kids!

Since Lovely Daughter is 23 months older than her brother, she had my undivided attention for almost two years before Handsome Son made his rather long, protracted, and painful entrance into the world. He was always in her shadow while she was home, and while most of my efforts were on him, Lovely Daughter was always there, attracting attention. Now that his older sister has moved on, Handsome Son now has my complete and undivided attention. His 25-hour-long delivery caused some problems at birth, and then his continual ear infections caused intermittent partial deafness which lasted until he was seven years old. For years I have had to battle first the doctors, then the school district to ensure that my son received the proper treatments and then the proper educational programs (after we figured out what “proper” would be for him). These things still affect him today, and I will never stop worrying about him. Perhaps it is because I had to wage war for so long against so many years that I have a hard time stepping back and seeing him for the near adult that he has become. I joke about the hulking, grunting hairy refrigerator sucking entity in the house, but in my mind he is still the sweet, loving child I used to carry around, attached to his apnea monitor.

Handsome Son is driving now. Even Lovely Daughter has a problem adjusting to that reality. Even with my concerns about his function, he has not had a single accident. (Lovely had two within her first year, and one not long after.) He is actually going on the freeways to get to his basketball practice and tournaments! Although I will never get used to my baby maneuvering his way through freeway traffic, I just put his future into God’s hands (via prayers to his guardian angel – multiple prayers!). Always a cautious kid who never wanted to break any rules, I didn’t worry about him speeding or intentionally breaking any rules; it was the unintentional misunderstanding of road rules or street signage. But he has surprised me and done exceedingly well. So far.

But the most amazing this about my Handsome Son is his attitude. While motivating him to clean up his room has me throwing my hands up in the air, he will do whatever is requested of him without (much) complaint. He accepts his chores and does not shirk them. He is very appreciative when I help him with the dishes. When I help him with his gas money he doesn’t take it as a given, but hugs me and kisses his thanks. He is grateful for what he has. While I worry about him getting into college (his focus on basketball seems to preclude any extra reading I try to get him to do), he keeps plugging away, getting his A’s and B’s and perfect attendance. Testing may be a problem for him, but his teachers all love him.

The varsity basketball coach likes him so much that he moved Handsome Son onto the varsity team even though my kid does not have the athletic grace that most of the other players have. To my surprise, Handsome Son was warmly accepted by the varsity team, and I watched in amazement as the players made very obvious efforts to be sure he handled the ball in the few minutes he had in one game, and then joshed him afterwards when he nervously shot an air ball. Handsome Son sits on the bench, plays his few minutes, but does not let his lack of playing time get him down. When the team scores, he rejoices. When the team is behind, he chews his fingers into bloody nubs. When the team loses, he’s despondent. I would be bitter at my lack of inclusion in the games, but he continues to practice for hours, running, dribbling, and shooting baskets. He has, at least temporarily, the opportunity to go to four practices each week with his summer league – and he goes to them all. He takes advantage of “open gym” time after school to play against his school teammates. He listens to his coaches and works on his footwork. He will never fly like Michael Jordan, but he is learning to use his size as a defensive player. He is making strides in his playing skill with the help of his summer league coaches. He watches basketball on videos on the internet and tries to pick up the moves that make those players successful. Maybe next year he will get more playing time, now that he is being taught what his strengths are and how to use them.

Where I would have given up or gotten angry, my son has focused his energies on his goal of playing college basketball. He thinks he wants to play NBA, but I, again, am trying to manage his expectations. This may be a mistake, because Handsome Son is not giving up. He has never given up, which is why he was able to overcome his language disabilities when he was young. He has never given up, which is how he was able to join mainstream classes when he was nine years old. He has never given up, which is how he was able to join the varsity team when he clearly was not varsity material. He has impressed everyone with his attitude and persistence, while not falling into the traps to which some young men his age have succumbed. And all the while, he smiles and laughs and loves and somehow fits in wherever he goes.

I could learn a lot from my kid.

The Gift of Children

I just returned from a shopping trip at a local department store. I noticed a young – VERY young – girl with a pink shirt in hand go to the self-checkout aisle and start pushing on the screen. I knew this youngster would not be paying for her selection, but her mother was nowhere in sight. She continued to push at the screen until her baby sister approached her, and then the two wandered off behind a display and out of my sight. I brought this event to the attention of the customer service rep who was helping me, and she became very concerned and asked where they were. “They were right there,” I pointed, “but they walked off that way. I just don’t know where there mother is.” “They just announced a lost child,” the rep said. “Really?” I asked, then added, “I think I’d shoot myself if I allowed my kids to run around a store without me.” Right about that time, the shirt girl reappeared and began pushing at the screen again. “There she is!” I said, “and there’s her little sister with her.” The CSR went to the girls and asked where their mother was, and I saw shirt girl point off somewhere. “Then you two need to hold hands and go be with your mother. Go on…go on!” The two girls walked away and the CSR followed them and asked the mother to keep her children with her. As I left, the mother looked at me as if she was angry. Why? Because I’m not comfortable with her children getting carried off by some pervert?

I’ve noticed a gradual loosening of parental control over children over the years. I used to go to PTA meetings but stopped. I quit going not because I was unconcerned about my children’s school, or because I was nonchalant about their future, but because the noise from all of the children playing and carrying on (and the parents talking at the same time as the speaker, by the way) frustrated me to no end. I even saw one child with a toy that his parents had brought for him to play with during the meeting – a toy gun that made noise! I decided it was best for to stop attending before I slapped someone and got sent to jail.

I’ve noticed an increase in rudeness in general, but the lack of parental control truly astounds me. I’ve seen kids careening around stores in grocery carts, banging into the aisles and nearly running over customers, laughing uproariously. I never saw those parents. I wish I had. I would have loved to express my dismay at almost becoming in-store roadkill.

Do parents not care about their children anymore? Are they TRYING to get rid of them? Do they not care about their physical safety, or their future social skills? These kids that today are allowed to eat food in the store as they shop learn that it’s okay to take things without paying for them. Then the parents are upset because their pwecious widdle baby-wabies are prosecuted for shoplifting. Alternatively, their kids-come-grownups have little idea of how to behave in public because Mommy and Daddy were so busy either trying to be their friends or ignoring them that they were never taught social norms. Why don’t they have friends? Why can’t they be successful? Freud had it right – go and look at the mother. Or lack thereof.

Please parents, keep your children with you in the stores! Teach them (and yourselves) to respect others by keeping your mouth shut when the speaker is speaking. By respecting others you provide a role model for your kids. When shopping, don’t allow anyone in your party to open any package until it is paid for. Be responsible. Teach them to be responsible.

Then the perverts will have a harder time getting to your kids.

Then you may be asked back to places you visit.

Then prices in stores may go down because the shrinkage will be less.

Then we may be able to feel more confident about our future, because we can be more confident in our future adults.