There are moments when I’d really appreciate an Interim report on my parenting skills.
Then I think what my G.P.A. might be and I’m grateful that for all known purposes, there is no public record that can be seized upon in a court of law. Unless you count this blog. Hmmmm.
I imagine a grid with each child on the left hand side listed separately as though a subject, Music, Spanish, Chemistry, English, Math, Art, PE, Religion, Social Studies and History. Naturally, I’m better at some subjects than others, and while I’m great on the homework front for several of them, the pop quizzes they keep throwing at me kill my average and sometimes I forget to study or turn in things late. I’ve done extra credit on every child, but the value and weight of that extra stuff varies. In some cases, it may even be sinking my cumulative average.
The end objective in parenting and education is the picture you have in your head, the vision of your child adult, active, engaged in life, emotionally stable, intellectually curious and spiritually grounded in the reality that we are not here for ourselves, and everything we say, do and don’t say and don’t do, reflects who we are and how much we love. But often those visions get added onto, with clattery bells and whistles of aspirations whispered, crazy dreams, ambitions that are the result of competitive parenting, pressures from the outside, and even just today I’m feeling peevish and thus persnickety about you in particular goals.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the muck of silliness, where our children become the sum of our aspirations, rather than the product of our love and their labor. It’s my son the doctor lawyer priest varsity football player concert pianist who is trilingual and grows heirloom tomatoes. It’s my artist Senator Olympic medalist Pulitzer prize winning former CEO who travels to far away places to give important speeches on how to change the world. Condensing all they are into what they do is the fastest way to kill the joy of raising human beings.
It isn’t all real, it isn’t all necessary, but it’s a dream scape version of our idealized offspring, fisked clean of all those foibles and flaws that get in the way, like the fact that a child can be a neat freak but not in any functional way, meaning all clothing he wears must be fresh out of the dryer, but he doesn’t have to make his bed or shut his drawers. Or how she is a literal brainiac who can produce pages of complex Chemistry and mathematics equations, but fears cooking anything that doesn’t come out of a toaster or microwave. Another kid can remember everything anyone ever said, unless it was in class and about a subject.
So as I consider child 1, child 2, child 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9 and 10 and the fact that one went to school today with his hair doing a fair imitation of a cockatoo and another wrecked because she had a hot dog for lunch but I was out of ketchup and a third who stayed up late doing homework she should have done over spring break and a fourth bragging about how she studied for the state capital test by using the computer (I worry), and an email about a child freaking over a poster he has to do on Italy which is due tomorrow and which he brought in early but wasn’t finished —because he brought it in early, I’m thinking, okay I don’t really need grades. I just need a gut check to make sure I’m not auditing any of these classes.
Image Credit: http://photodaisy.blogspot.com/
Copyright 2012 Sherry Antonetti