written by the North County Dad Blog
After taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog world, I have returned with a renewed determination to provide my slightly skewed vision of parenting to the world. A special thanks to those who asked about the absence of my posts and therefore encouraged me to return. At the start of September, I took on a long term substitute job for the Science teacher at the school where I once taught. Being the good English major that I am, I abhorred the sciences as a college and high school student, but would not dream of letting my complete and utter lack of scientific knowledge stand in the way of sounding smarter than my students. So in lieu of late nights and nap times spent hunched over a keyboard writing about the highs and lows of parenting, I “enjoyed” six weeks dissecting the Hardy-Weinberg Principle for AP Biology, cursing at missed calculations for Chemistry, and revisiting acronyms for memorizing the Earth’s biomes. I also spent it missing the valuable time I got to spend with my boys. However, now that the dust of that experience and the holiday season has settled, it seems that normalcy, opportunity and the creative juices have returned.
In the spirit of the new year, I thought I would use this return post to share my parenting goals for 2015. I have seen many headlines fluttering about the internet that list the “worst mistakes every parent makes” or some other such generic, but ultimately eye-catching statements, only to find them to be less useful than one might imagine. This list is not an attempt to condemn others or encourage one way of thinking, but purely one man’s attempts to hopefully not mess up as often this year. I find small goals are a key to a happy life. So here’s the ten parenting mistakes I hope to do less often this year:
1) Be in a hurry – I have formulated an opinion after six years of parenting that the job is really not that difficult as long as one can avoid having to do it while hungry, tired, or in a hurry. Unfortunately, in a great twist of cosmic irony, it appears to be the undeniable primary goal of young children to prevent their parents from properly eating, sleeping, or being punctual for at least the first eight to ten years of their lives. When the clocks were set back an hour in early November, I greatly bemoaned the pre-dawn wake up times my boys were now greeting so happily. However, after the first couple of days, I began to notice that mornings were far less stressful and that the extra thirty to forty-five minutes of sleep I once enjoyed paled in comparison to having ample time to get everybody ready. In addition, much like electronic devices (particularly copiers or printers), children have an innate ability to sense when you may be in a hurry and will either shut down entirely or instantly need to spend the next ten minutes going to the bathroom (probably less applicable in the case of electronic devices, but one does wonder what Error 205 really does mean). Our fast-paced modern lives dictate a degree of hustle and bustle, but this year I am vowing to just leave five minutes earlier than planned and seeing if a more peaceful existence results.
2) Care about the opinions of others – I love sports and was moderately good enough as a younger man to enjoy pickup games of football, basketball, softball, etc. and often be one of the better players on whatever team I was a member. However, when it came time to play varsity sports at the very small school I attended, I would frequently become athletically useless. The extra scrutiny of fans, strangers on the other team, and even referees would shift my attention away from playing the game to win, and focusing instead on not making a mistake or looking foolish. As a parent I often find myself falling into the same trap of making decisions about my children based on what the “spectators” around me may think. This is probably even greater augmented by my role as a stay-at-home dad amongst a sea of women. I strive to prove myself as not weak or incompetent or unprepared or whatever ridiculous worry I may have about the thoughts of others and make a choice in public that might be completely different than the one I would do in the comfort of my own home. Making good decisions in parenting is hard enough, so this year I aim to not handicap myself even further by being concerned with what the mom next to me thinks of my son’s unkempt hair or mismatched clothes.
3) Mention plans in the future – One of my favorite comedians is Jim Gaffigan, and he has a short bit about how children are so obsessed with ice cream that you cannot even say the words without getting an immediate response of “I’d like some ice cream. Now, please.”, followed by a request for chocolate. Despite hearing this joke multiple times on Pandora Radio, I still manage to forget the instant gratification mindset of young children and think it will be fun to see my boys get excited about some upcoming event. However, the initial fun of mentioning visiting my parents or in-laws the next day and hearing my two-year-old gleefully chant “gamma, gampas” wears off after about fifty or sixty times. Although there is obvious value in teaching children to wait for the good things in life (such as the next Star Wars movie or a Disney Cruise to Iceland), this year I vow to wait until we pull into the parking spot of our destination before telling my children where we are going a little more often.
4) Don’t follow my own advice – I knew that the apple did not fall very far from the tree when it came to my oldest son and I when we arrived at our local park one day, and upon exiting the car he exclaimed, “yay, there’s no one here!”. This declaration served as both a moment of pride and disappointment for me. Deep down, I believe we all want miniature versions of ourselves to pass on to future generations, but I also had high hopes that my children would not share in my misanthropic behaviors and attitudes. I realized later that despite encouraging my son to be social and play with the other kids, I completely failed to model that behavior myself….. finish this hilarious article and find more by the North County San Diego Dad Blog by clicking HERE!