A couple of days ago, Caleb asked when he would be an adult. It was probably close to the four thousandth question that day, so my first response was the quickest answer, “Your an adult when you turn 18”. It quieted him down for a second while he worked the math, “So in 12 years then?”. Talk about a FAST way to pull a mama up short… I’m a THIRD of the way there with him?!? It necessitated a slightly longer answer.
“It’s true that you’ll be an adult when you’re 18, but did you know that there is a big difference between an adult and a grown-up?”…. Silence…. “The thing of it is, anybody can be an adult, it doesn’t really mean all that much. A grown-up is someone that is able to manage the responsibilities of life, working hard to meet their own needs, while still being able to care for and help others around them. There are some kids that grow-up before they ever turn 18, and there are also many adults that never actually grow up.”
“So how can I be a grown-up?”
“That all depends on you buddy, and how hard your willing to work. Even though it looks like grown-ups get to do what ever they want, that’s not actually the case. A grown up looks at the world around them, and wonders what they can do to try and make it better, and then does that…. even when its not always what they WANT to do.”
“Like cleaning up someone else’s mess?”
“Yeah, bud…. it looks a lot like that most days. Mama’s just trying her best to turn you into a really awesome grown-up.”
That was the end of our conversation, but it got me thinking how REALLY tough it can be to be a grown-up these days…. More than that… how to PARENT someone into being a grown-up. Then I stumbled across this article yesterday, “How Baby Boomers Ruined Parenting Forever“. I wanted to stand up and give the author a slow clap. Then I wanted to line the Baby Boomer generation up and smack the majority of them upside the head for trying their damndest to ‘keep up with the Jones’, cause its got me up to my eyeballs in ways to ‘provide’ for my children. I say majority because, thankfully, upon entering adulthood and witnessing the mass floundering of my generations inability to balance a budget or live within their means, I was able to graduate college and get married without going into debt…. WITHOUT financial assistance from my parents. I attribute this, in large part, to my parents wholly refusing the idea it was their responsibility to ‘provide’ for my enRICHment at every turn.
For the record I hated this as a child/young adult. I was convinced they were the meanest ever. They couldn’t possibly CARE about me, let alone LOVE me when they so happily withheld all the material possessions I thought I needed! Wanna know how this played out? At 17 I moved out…. well actually THEY moved out. They moved to a city about an hour away from my High School and wanted me to come with, but I refused, wanting to graduate with my friends. See, what MEAN parents I had, they didn’t plan the ENTIRE families well being around ME or my social life. Jerks. Yet another lesson where I learned the world didn’t actually revolve around me…. bummer.
Presently, my own kids are 6, 4, 1, and t-24wks and I can attest to having spent a disproportionate amount of time worrying whether or not I was ‘providing’ adequately for their needs. Then I stopped to think…. What do I remember from when I was 6 years old or younger??? You guys…. I couldn’t come up with more than FIVE memories that I could recall clearly. FIVE. Here I am fretting whether or not my four year old will need therapy because we let his six year old brother take Fall soccer for the first time, and didn’t sign him up because we weren’t ready to give up our Saturdays carting from one game to the next. Odds are in my favor he didn’t give it a second thought after the one fit he pitched on the first day of practice.
All the time we fret over making every detail of childhood perfect is in vain. We barely remember it anyway, not the daily details anyway. The question is, what WILL they remember? What will be their handful of memories that shape how they remember their childhood? I hope they remember the times of fun we have together. If I had to guess, my parental experience will likely evolve much like most of those that have gone before me…. which is explained most concisely like this:
Sure, there may be some deviation on years, but in my personal experience it rings pretty true. This makes my job a little easier. Rather than worrying about the trivial details surrounding whether or not we got to make the perfect holiday traditions, and scheduling us all to within an inch of our sanity, I wanna have faith that for now I’m their whole world, and spend more of my time training them for those years when they WON’T listen to me.
Apparently faith based parenting, has been replaced by fear based parenting. Rather than trying our best and trusting in faith that in our weaknesses, God’s strength will be made perfect, and at the end of the day He is sovereign. We teach our kids to recite that, while monitoring their every move, lest they fall victim to some predator, a freak act of nature, the judgmental eye of passerby’s we could give two hoots about, or their own inclination toward disaster. It’s exhausting, and while I’d like to say I’m over it, people are getting ARRESTED for not keeping up. Should the unfortunate disaster happen, during ANY mother’s darkest hour, let’s just go ahead and add insult to injury and tell her it was HER fault. Had she been a better mother, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s disgusting.
I wish I could tell you I had some master plan to right the wrongs of the helicopter parent. I don’t. Basically it comes down to this….. Train your kids up so THEY don’t get arrested, while trying your best not to get arrested yourself. This will clearly be a challenge for the Alspaugh’s, who view summertime as an opportunity to shower outdoors….. Though our memories will hopefully be plentiful, and rather colorful!
(The risk is apparently real enough, that I had to ask Kevin like 7 times if he was SURE I could post this picture to the internet, or if I should cover their WHOLE bodies in black boxes 😉