In a world where “parent shaming” is an actual, and pathetic, thing that’s sadly been given a title (and more power than it deserves…but that’s for a whole other article) we have more and more pressure to be, or at least appear to be, the “perfect” parent.
I might ask, “Who’s writing the rules to what ‘perfect’ parenting means?” but in full disclosure I don’t give a shit because that’s not what matters. Besides doing all that we can to not only sculpt and mold our children into the adults they’re going to be, what matters, and a crucial question we should be asking ourselves is, “Am I enjoying this exact moment in time with my child?”
Sure, we’re not here to be our kid’s best friend. I get that. If they like us at the end of it all, that’s great, not only did we do our job, they appreciated it, too. But it’s vital we recognize that this exact moment in time will pass faster than any of us can comprehend.
Yeah, I know, you see how fast they’re growing so you’ve convinced yourself you can comprehend the speed in which your kids will become adults but let me ask you this…have you been eighty-years-old and reflected back on your life yet? I didn’t think so. Give the elderly something they can 1-up you on and just chill for a minute.
Ok, so assuming we can all accept that time is going to fly by at a speed in which we’re not prepared for, it’s only safe to also assume that we don’t want to look back at it all and have any regrets with how we parented. Just be aware, there’s one thing that’s indeed worse than regrets of what we did? And that’s regrets of what we didn’t do.
I’m sure we’ve all heard, and used to our advantage when needed, the old saying, “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.” However, even in a million years we wouldn’t think we should apply that to parenting, because heaven forbid we risked not looking perfect and ended up needing to apologize for something.
Nevertheless sometimes we need to go against the “popular” opinion and do what we think is best in the moment for our kids because even if in the end we did need to apologize for that decision it’s better we attempted something rather than regretted doing nothing.
So, what rules are being broken, who exactly are we apologizing to, and what are we apologizing for in these attempts at building memories? I always love that you, our loyal readers, have such great questions at the perfect timing within these articles. Because of such astuteness I will bravely (and obviously humbly) open myself up for attacks by lowlife parent-shamers and share with you a personal example of where I risked not only making a poor decision but needing to admit fault.
The most prominent scenario that comes to mind when I had to break the ‘social norm’ rules was on the eve of my son’s third birthday we took him to his first concert. Let’s stop there and put this in its proper context before the judging becomes too blatant.
Ever since my son was a newborn we’ve played Rockabye Baby! lullaby CD’s of some of our favorite groups like Coldplay, Radiohead, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd (I’m just now noticing, while writing that last sentence, my perhaps unhealthy love for British rock). Not only would we play those lullaby albums while he slept but he initially fell asleep while listening to us sing the lyrics of each of the songs to him.
The older our son got the more he learned some of the lyrics himself. Eventually he was singing us to sleep after we had a long day of running around trying to keep up with a rambunctious two-year-old. Because of that those said rock groups, by default, became some of his favorite artists.
Soon after all of this, we heard that Coldplay was going on tour but I was ready to pass on it because we’d already seen them in concert prior to our parenting days and I didn’t feel the need to go feel young again (Who am I kidding? I feel embarrassingly young with my immature sense of humor and youthful hobbies).
The problem occurred when we thought about how Coldplay always seems to allude that this will be their last tour. We felt like, “Why the hell not take him to see them?” Well, there were a ton of reasons why the hell not but we bought the tickets for hundreds of dollars anyways.
And that’s where the rules need to go out the window. Could the show have started long after his bedtime that he would grow tired and cranky, risking ruining the concert for those around us? Could it have been too crowded for his comfort? Could it have been too loud that it scared him? Could the lasers and wrist-worn-LED’s given him epilepsy? Yes, all of those were viable chances, albeit some slimmer than others, but that’s why we went prepared.
We knew there was a great chance we were just throwing that money away, so we bought nosebleed section tickets, and we knew we might have to leave before the headline act even started; we sat in the back section on the end in case he freaked out; we brought earplugs and earmuffs in case it was too loud; and if he had epilepsy and this was the first we were learning of it at least it was in a place that had professional medical crews and was located right next to a major hospital.
But guess what? None of that happened and we didn’t need to apologize to him or those around us. Instead he had the night of his life. He sang into the LED-filled night at the top of his lungs. He danced with us. He laughed in our arms. He smiled at those around him infecting them with his innocent joy. So much so that we were complemented, by a much older couple, about how well behaved and sincerely excited he was to be there that they loved seeing it. And now we have that priceless moment on video and film to last a lifetime.
Take your kids to Nintendo midnight releases. Teach them how to build arcade machines when they’re toddlers so they can grow up playing games that you played. Give them cookies when they don’t deserve them. Keep them out of school to take them to a baseball game. Just break the damn rules once and a while! It only amplifies the awesomeness in the moment that a specific reminiscence is attached to.
See, that’s what this whole parenting thing is about. If it was only about raising kids to be amazing adults then we’re only building armies instead of building memories.