A couple days ago I blogged three times in one day. That does not happen unless I am either heartbroken or super-bored. I’m thanking my lucky stars it was the latter and not the former because having a broken heart sucks all.
The kids are back home now and despite struggling with parenting sometimes, something feels right with the world again. I always felt like work came easy to me. Getting things done at work was like a piece of cake. The formula is so tried and true. There is stuff to be done, somebody decides what’s the most important thing, you do that and do it really well, everybody is happy and people think you are great. Rinse and repeat.
Parenting is so different from that. There is no formula that works. Truly. Anyone who writes a book or gives advice or thinks they have it all figured out is completely full of shit. You can be a good person and a do all the “right” things and your kid can still turn out to be an ass or a menace to society or just an oxygen waster. You can do all the “wrong” things, and your kid can turn out to be a hard worker and a dedicated family man, always trying to to better for the world. Sure, odds are these outcomes are less likely statistically, but my point is that every single child is different and every single scenario is complex and there is not a “one size fits all” formula that is going to get you to that finish line feeling like a success.
What is the finish line? Well in truth there isn’t really one, but for me I feel if my kids get to 18 or 20 and are on a good path in life, then I have done OK. If they understand how to navigate difficult things, have some idea what they would like to do with their life and have started doing that, and know how to generate happiness for themselves ; then that is pretty good. If they understand the economy and when to save and when to spend, bonus points. If they don’t know how to live a clean, healthy life with eating and exercise, then that’s an epic fail. Perhaps there is some formula for this but if so, it probably looks a lot like a calculus equation with so many variables that have to be flipped to the other side somehow and the parenting calculator that might tell you what to do in a particular situation just has not been invented yet.
Take video games for example. My son loves them and my daughter likes them too but is not as obsessed as he is. Should I let him play all summer as much as he wants? Should I create rules around that and crack the whip if he does not follow the rules? Should I let him enjoy the summers of his youth on an iPad or PC or 3DS when I think he should be outside riding a bike? The answer is unclear. On one hand, he’s not getting enough activity sitting on his butt all day but on the other hand, that is also what his community of friends are doing. I like that he has his friends (these are his real buddies and not some other unknown voice on the the other side of the internet wires), and they all play too. They are not out riding their bikes either. I think our relationships with people are so important and having a solid group of friends who are good kids is so beneficial, especially at his age.
So I have chosen to try and strike a balance, you know, subscribing to that philosophy for myself has mostly proven to be a good course. Limit the amount of time he gets to play… we’ll call them “working hours”, and I do crack the whip when it comes to eating breakfast and lunch together and of course when we are doing family things like going to the pool (which he also loves to do by the way).
Maybe even with this, he still plays too much, but who is to say? Who is to say that is right or wrong? Am I trying to defend my position a little bit in the face of people who think I’m too soft on my kids?.. perhaps. But until someone who has the formula figured out and invents that calculator which can spit out the right answer after just a few inputs comes to me and shows me the error of my ways, I’m going to keep doing what I am doing.
Anyway, it’s time for me to start my day now and I am finally feeling better after being hit by some nasty summer sickness that zapped my weekend energy away. I was able to get back to 20K steps yesterday so that was really good. Hopefully I can get back into a good routine now that the “big” vacation is over and just settle in and enjoy my time off of work. Perhaps I will even play a video game or two with my son myself. 😃