The Lydster: are we bad parents?

I came across this article 8 Things Kids Need to Do By Themselves Before They’re 13. The premise is this: “How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids? Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year.”

How did the Daughter’s parents do?

1. Waking them up in the morning

Guilty, and it’s usually me. I think it’s a function of the fact that I HATE waking up to the alarm clock, which I hear every weekday morning, not for MY sake, but for my wife’s. The Daughter DOES wake up occasionally on her own.

It’s been a real change from sixth grade, when she could literally wake up 20 minutes before school started, still getting there before the late bell, and now, which involves taking the bus, which sometimes comes early.

I HAVE stopped repeatedly nudging her, though, because that was too exhausting for ME!

2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch

She usually gets lunch at school, and she could get breakfast if necessary. Still, I’d rather make breakfast, because the cleanup afterwards is much less for me. And left to her own devices, she might just ea that pizza for breakfast that I was planning for lunch.

3. Filling out their paperwork

The only really complicated one involves names and phone numbers of our friends and relatives as emergency contacts. I’m just happy she brings out the paperwork in a more timely fashion, usually.

4. Delivering their forgotten items

I have done that once recently, before a field trip when she needed money to eat lunch on a field trip. I delivered her cash just in time, and I received a rare public hug. OK, I’ll try to do better.

5. Making their failure to plan your emergency

This tends to be more her mother’s failing, getting stuff for her she needs at the last minute, but the Daughter has gotten much better over the school year.

6. Doing all of their laundry

Her mother does do most of the laundry, period. But the summer will be a good opportunity for Clothes Washing 101.

7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches

Interesting, a couple teachers have contacted US, saying the Daughter is doing well.

8. Meddling in their academics

In the first marking period, she was doing less well in her favorite subject, probably because she hadn’t handed in some homework she had actually completed. I know this because I’ve sat with her when she did it. But I never got involved with her teachers, mostly because keeping track of her 12 classes in 8 periods was too complicated for ME. And she’s come to do more of her school work on her own.

I’ll admit, though, that I like knowing what she’s learning. 7th grade math that I wasn’t doing until 9th grade. Manifest Destiny, NOT as a given good. And there’s the occasional exercise I find annoying, such as finding words in a puzzle across, down and diagonally, the learning value of which I found dubious; both her parents helped her find those backwards diagonals.

Boy, are we the terrible parents or what? To be fair, she has learned a lot about self-reliance this year, and I’m guessing next year will be more of the same.

The year after that, she’ll be going to high school, and she’ll be able to walk there, which I am looking forward to, a lot.

March rambling #2: We are never Ivory Coast

Rob Ford died of a more respectable disease.

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Continue reading “March rambling #2: We are never Ivory Coast”

QUESTION: Is parenting a toddler at 50 easier than at 30?

What age do you think it optimal for a parent to be,

father.look up toI see this article in Chicago Now, Six Reasons Parenting a Toddler at 50 is So Much Easier than at 30. Interesting to me because I had my one and only child at 51.

I think, for the most part, the points made in the article are true. I’m more patient and less diaper averse. On the other hand, I have a bit less energy. I’ve almost gotten over being thought of as her grandfather, as there are parents at my daughter’s school young enough to be my children. But in the main, I’m a better dad.

Whether or not you’re a parent, what age do you think is optimal for a parent to be, and why?

P is for (Helicopter) Parenting

There are some parents to deign to raise what have been dubbed free-range kids, children who get around on their own, pretty much as I did when I was eight or nine.

One of the things I want for my daughter is room for her to find her own way, without her mother or me hovering about. Yet I find myself looking out the window of our house, checking our own back yard, making sure she’s OK. I’m trying not to be a helicopter parent, testing the line between consciousness and overparenting.

Here’s a fact: more kids ride to school than ever before. “The most recent data on active transportation among school-age children represent a significant decrease since 1969. The number of students walking and biking to school has decreased more than three-fold over the past few decades, from 41 percent of students in 1969 to only 13 percent of students in 2001.” Surely, part of this is a function of consolidated school districts, which are generally larger. But one parent on our street acknowledges driving her child the few blocks to the school.

I can’t help but think that much of this trend stems from a six-year-old boy named Etan Patz. He walked to school in 1979 in New York City and never came home; it was only in 2012 that someone has confessed to killing the child at that time. Etan Patz was the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. In those days, one had to wait 12 or 24 hours before the police would truly respond to a missing persons report. But after other high-profile crimes, there are amber alerts that take the info about a missing child across the region, or even across the country, almost instantly.

There are some parents to deign to raise what has been dubbed free-range kids, children who get around on their own, pretty much as I did when I was eight or nine, going off to the playground with no parental or other adult supervision. And I did that before the days of cellphones. These current parents have been highly criticized in some circles. What if something happens?

I find myself regularly conflicted between safety and a more laissez-faire attitude.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

P is for Peeved Parent

*to take care of someone’s baby or child while that person is out, usually by going to their home
*a person engaged to care for one or more children in the temporary absence of parents or guardians

I was reading the May 2011 Parenting: School Years magazine that had been abandoned in the common lunchroom, when I came across this advertisement.

Now I’ve been a parent for a while now. And, at least since the latter part of the 20th Century, I’ve noticed that there has been a concerted effort, at least in the United States, for fathers to be treated like parents too. Just this semester, there was an event in Albany, NY for fathers to walk their children to school, and in some schools, to stay for breakfast. This was also a message that had been spread in the Daughter’s preschool.

So messages like the one above, in my opinion, undercut the message. I’ve also been peevish with General Mills for quite a while, with their tag for KIX cereal – “Kid tested, Mother approved,” which you can see in this commercial and this one, among many others. And in these examples, not an adult, of either gender, in sight.
How about “kid tested, parent approved”? Doesn’t even change the scansion.

In that same magazine, an article naming moms in the title, but in the actual article, visits from either or both parents are cited.

Early on in this blog, I noted another pet peeve: when I took off from work to watch my daughter, someone said, “Oh, you’re going to babysit Lydia.” Can you babysit your own child? It didn’t resonate correctly with me. To the dictionaries to look up babysitting/babysitter:

to take care of someone’s baby or child while that person is out, usually by going to their home
a person engaged to care for one or more children in the temporary absence of parents or guardians
*a person who cares for or watches over someone or something that needs attention or guidance
OK, so there’s some wiggle room in the third definition.

But I asked my wife “Has ANYONE EVER said to you, ‘Oh, you need to babysit Lydia [because she’s sick, etc.]?” And the answer, as I suspected, was “No.” SHE watches, SHE tends to, SHE cares for. And I babysit? Nah, I watch, I tend to, I care for. I really believe the linguistic distinction matters. When she’s ready to be in a relationship and have children HUNDREDS of years now, I want her to have a partner who is a caregiver, not a babysitter.

Finally, a song: Be Kind To Your Parents. I had a different recording of this song, on pink vinyl. My sister Leslie and I used to sing it, though we changed the lyrics somewhat…
Be kind to your parents. You know they deserve it. Remember that grownup’s a difficult stage of life… They’re apt to be nervous and overexcited, confused from the daily storm and strife. Just keep in mind, though it sounds odd I know, most parents once were children long ago. INCREDIBLE!!! So treat them with patience and sweet understanding in spite of the foolish things they do. Someday you may wake and find YOU’RE A PARENT, TOO!
[So is THAT how it happens…]

ABC Wednesday – Round 9