Mom! I brought home a book for you from the library today. You are going to LOOOOOOve it!
When your six-year-old daughter says something like this to you, many thoughts go through my mind. Things like, “Holy shit, this book is going to have three hundred pages and no pictures and she is going to want to read it in its entirety this weekend”, or “NOT ANOTHER DAMN BARBIE BOOK!”. Just judging by her uncontrollable giggles, I did not have a good feeling about the book that I was going to be forced to read over and over and over again all. weekend. long. I love reading to my kids. I do not enjoy some of their choices. Unsupervised book selection has a tendency to not go well for my kids, so you can imagine how nervous I become when they start using their funny voices telling me how much I am going to LOOOOOve this book. Never in a million years did I expect her to pull this out of her backpack:
At first I couldn’t help but giggle, but as I listened to her talk my heart melted into her filthy, germ infested, beautiful little hands. “I was looking for a different book, but saw this one and just knew you would like it so I got it so we could read it together”. I don’t know if it is because of the raging PMS, or the fact that I have been trapped in the house for four days with a sick two-year old, but this one, selfish little act caused my eyes to overflow just a bit. I tried to tell myself that it is just a book. How in the hell can one little library book turn me into mush? Then I realized that it wasn’t the book that did it to me, it was the selfless act of my six-year-old that helped me forget about the armageddon about to break out in my uterus.
As parents, we often dream of what kind of adults our children will grow up to be. Will they be kind? Will they be thoughtful? Will they be total assholes? While we always hope that the latter doesn’t occur, we all know that these days it seems to happen more often than it should. Shall we all take a moment and just imagine what a world this would be without them? Ahhhhhh, how delightful and amazing. Since we all know that an asshole free world will never exist, maybe it is time to concentrate on where we are going astray as parents and what we can do to change it.
This current generation we are raising scares the living crap out of me and we are left to point the finger at ourselves. Why are we as parents are more concerned about becoming their friends and by what kind of parent we appear to be in a public setting instead of actually being their parents? I can admit that I am just as guilty as the next person. While I may not be so concerned about being their friend, I already have plenty of friends, I know I am more concerned with public appearances than I should be. Maybe it is the desire to be accepted by others, maybe it is the desire look like we know what we are doing, maybe it is some deeper issue that I have locked away deep down in my emotional vault. What I do know is that I am mortified of the thought of my kids becoming one of those assholes and if I succeed in nothing else in life, as long as I prevent that from happening, I will die an old, extremely happy, woman.
This one little book left me asking myself if I am the kind of parent that my own parents hoped I would be. What a mind-blowing thought. One that I am hoping I know the answer to. Now as parents ourselves, we often joke with each other that we will never say and do the things that our parents did. You know what I mean, the “well shit, I just sounded like my mother” moments, but when you really think about it and take a good long look in the mirror, we seem to have turned out pretty good so are those oddities that we tried to fight for so long really that bad? I suppose it is time to accept the fact that our parents really did know what they were talking about all those years. Damn, that was really hard to type.
What I do know is that little miss Mouse gave me hope last night. Hope that Farmer Bob and I are on the right path. Hope that we are raising the kinds of kids that we can be proud of. Hope that kindness and love can overtake the assholes and the hate. Hope that our kids will grow up to the be the kind of parents that we hope they can be. This journey that we are on as mothers, as fathers, as parents, is without a doubt the most difficult thing we have ever done. Harder than college algebra or writing that thesis. Harder than perfecting that recipe or choosing a paint color for the living room. Harder because there isn’t a textbook. There isn’t a recipe. We can’t pick out the “perfect” child from a paint chip. They are put into our lives for us to nurture and develop into the kind adults that we can be proud of. Maybe if we all agreed to be the kind of parents that we hope our own kids will be, we can have a little bit more hope for our future. In the meantime, sit down and enjoy a book with them and don’t be afraid to look at the pictures.