No, we are not pregnant again! Just wanted to get that out there….
And no one else in the family is pregnant either — at least not that we know of though we have been told that there was a bit of a scare recently. Not “scare” as in unwanted, but “scare” as in surprise-timing.
Still, I can’t help but wonder how parents in 2018 are coping with parenting. The carry over from having a president (lower case intentional) who flaunts all norms of civilized behavior is that other people take their cue from him. Not only other politicians but non-politicians as well copy his bully-tactics, and his bigotry, and his disrespect and who do parents tell their children to behave like? Who is the modern-day hero to a child in 2018.
Incidentally, I should mention that today’s feature photo has nothing to do with the topic. I just burst out laughing when I saw it. I know that might not have been in good taste, but hey, a Wookie with a dog collar IS funny in some universe somewhere!
One of the things about living in a Capitalist society is that the ideas of Capitalism permeate to areas beyond commerce. This idea of making and accumulating capital begins early in life by molding behaviors that are conducive to accumulating wealth. Getting into the right school is important. And we won’t even talk about the cliqued craziness that some parents go through to get their kids registered for a really great school when they are hardly out of diapers — gotta get that “place” for them saved as soon as possible. Then there are the mandatory activities that you need to get a place in the best colleges — so kids are driven all over the place from activity to activity just to make sure their college application ticks enough boxes. I swear, if when Katy was young, we had been forced to do all the “mandatory” parenting behaviors that are common today we might have crashed and burned as parents. I truly don’t know how young parents do it today. And I fear (in a healthy grand-parently-way) for our granddaughter about what burdens she’s going to put on her own shoulders for the sake of her as-yet-unborns.
So much of what children “learn” they learn from their siblings. Parents have their roles to play — sometimes I think parents are more facilitators than parents — but it’s the sibling and contemporaries with whom they spend so much time who have the biggest impact of who our children become. That scares me more than anything else.
I know I was a loner; and I didn’t have a lot to do with my contemporaries. In grade school we moved several times, In Jr. High and High School I was in scouting for a few years — which took up a lot of my time, and then I worked all the way through High School — 5 days a week, right after school — so I didn’t do a lot of high school activities or sports. I never missed all of that. I was in my mid 30’s before I ever went to a football game — it happened to have been a Packer’s game to which I got 2 free tickets so I took my dad who had never been to a professional football game. The temps were -10º F in Green Bay, I got sick as a result and lost a week of work. My boss (who had been the one to give me the tickets) never let me forget that I lost a week’s work because of those tickets either!
My point being that my own experience of childhood cannot have been typical. So, what your “average” child or parent does is completely beyond my ken. Not being a normal child I’m sure I did not raise our daughter to be normal. Signs from that branch of the family tree pretty much affirm that opinion. She is an extraordinary individual. And to be truthful, I never heard the teen-age-horror-stories about our grand-daughter that I get from other families. We truly were lucky not to have had to live through some of the experiences we know to go on. In fact while we were RV’ing some of the saddest conversations we had were with other RV’ing families where grandparents were sitting in as substituted parents for their children who had made a mess out of their own lives and left children in desperate straights. Those grandparents were glad to step in — not a one of them expressed anything but love in spite of having had their own lives turned upside down at a time when they were having enough problems with their own health and finances — but they loved those kids and wanted the best for them so they did what needed doing.
I have not seen a single child in the 24 apartments where we live. There is nothing in our lease about children (just no dogs) so it’s either happenstance that has resulted in 24 couples and singles living in a place where there are no kids or our landlord is skirting the legalities of housing law. Our last owned home, as some of you know, was next to an elementary school and I used to love being outdoors when the kids were on recess or having gym class because there was always some interaction possible with the little ones… You know how it goes… “Hey Mister, whatcha doin’?” and I loved every minute of it. I learned that some of the kids thought our house was haunted. Others wanted to be gardeners. Others told me about all sorts of creepy-crawly things in the ground. It was quite an education for me!
At that last home we realized that 1.) school playgrounds get used at all hours of the day and night (we were routinely awakened in the wee hours of the morning by the sound of basketballs hitting the backboard! 2.) that there’s a lot of booze (whiskey, and vodka, and who knows what all else) that gets drunk on school playgrounds in the middle of the night. It made no difference that we would call the cops on the occasions we saw kids, young kids, out there partying with hard liquor in the middle of the night — by the time the cops showed up the little snots were gone. I never ran away from home, and I wasn’t the kind to try to sneak out of the house at night. I wasn’t raised that way. So I have no idea how kids manage to sneak or steal hard liquor out of the house to take to the playground in the middle of the night to drink with their friends. But they do it. Out of the 6 or 7 years we spent there it was never a homeless bum that I saw out there on the playground. It was always kids of some age (from pre-teens to probably early 20’s); not always the same ages; not always the same kids. This was a decent, middle class neighborhood. Working class I’m I’m sure. The Patrick Cudahy packing plant was a mile up the road. There were two heavy machinery manufacturing plants nearby. There were decent jobs and decent families. But there were also un-parented children who were toying with undesirable lifestyles and bad-life-choices.
I laughed that any politician would suggest that violent video games would be the reason for school shootings in this country. Yeah, yeah, I don’t like violence myself. I think violent video games are stupid and a waste of time. But violent video games are available in nations around the world and if they are causative then why aren’t school shootings happening all around the world in every place where they are available? I don’t buy such simple solutions.
But I do buy the idea that handing a kid a video game takes a lot of responsibility off the parents’ shoulders. Those things are great baby-sitter-alternates. No — they are not great baby-sitters. Only humans are good at that. But they take the place of a baby sitter so that mom & dad can do what they want to do instead of parenting their children.
I guess that’s my big gripe with the anti-abortion gang. And with unplanned parenting in general. If children are born into homes where they aren’t wanted, or are merely tolerated, or where the parent “wanted the experience of having children” then the children don’t get the love or attention they deserve. They end up being ‘preoccupied’ by software, or ignored by parents who still want to party like college kids. It’s not fair to the children. It’s not good for the country. And you end up with bits of broken booze bottles mixed into the sand on the kids school playground!
I would not want to be a parent today. I have tremendous empathy for those who are doing the job to the best of their ability. I just with more people did. And I have no idea who a parent tells their kids to emulate because we’re hard pressed to find heros in 2018.