Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bitten


        Has anything you believed about parenting before you had children come back and taken a giant bite out of your back-side? It's been happening to me pretty regularly for the last twelve years. I'm beginning to think it's the only predictable thing about parenting.
        I worked at my college library as a student, and I remember having a conversation with the library secretary about being a working mother. She had two or three school aged kids and I was taking a psychology class. So, naturally, I thought we were equally knowledgeable on the subject. I talked about how important it was for an infant to bond with his parents in the first few months of life. She said, “I guess. But, sometimes I think they need you more when they get to middle school.” That sounded like crazy talk to nineteen-year-old me. After all, the Psych 101 textbook didn't say anything about that.
        Those bite-marks are really starting to sting.
        My kids can bathe and dress themselves. I don't have to ask them if they need to go to the bathroom any more. They know where the food is and are capable of making a sandwich or pouring milk into a bowl of cereal. My older son has been certified by the Boy Scouts of America in first aid. He's even received credentials to use a pocket knife and start a campfire safely.
        But with all of their knowledge and skills, there is no substitute for having time to talk to Mom or Dad about what is on their mind. And there is SO much on their minds. Between the things they hear on the bus and the news on the radio and TV, these years are a minefield of awkward conversations. In the past few weeks my husband and I have fielded questions about bullies, heroin, alcohol, mass shootings, French kissing, twerking, suicide, genocide, terrorism, theology and measles.
        But we do it. Maybe not joyfully, but willingly. Just like the thousands of diapers changed, and lullabies sung, and late-night feedings, it's part of parenting. Parenting a middle-schooler isn't much easier than parenting an infant. It's just different. And it isn't any less important. Back then the focus was on keeping their bodies nourished. As they become older, we focus on nourishing their brains and souls. Today after school my son just wanted to talk to me about the latest Lego sets that are coming out. So I sat with him flipping through the catalog feeling relieved it wasn't a “big” topic. But he's going to need the talk about all those “big” questions. Maybe if I give him my full attention when the topic is Legos, he'll continue to seek me out when the topic gets a lot more complicated.

Hi there! I know I've been a very sporadic blogger lately. So thanks for stopping by! Be sure and check out my next post. I have an exciting give-away coming soon.